Anna Seward Poems >>
Louisa: A Poetical Novel. First Epsitle.

LOUISA
TO
EMMA,
HER FRIEND IN THE EAST-INDIES.


THEE EMMA , four slow-circling years have seen
Press, with thy pensive foot, Savannas green;
Seen thee, with fond Affection's moisten'd gaze,
And the low-warbled song of former days,
Wind round the shadowy Rock, and shelving Glade,
Where broad Bananas stretch their grateful shade;
Bend o'er the West thy longing eyes, and chide
The tardy Breeze that fans th'unfreighted Tide.


    Now, as with filial care thy light step roves,
Through India's palmy plains, and spicy groves,
To bless thee, exil'd thus in Youth's gay prime,
May sprightly Health resist the torrid clime,
Temper the sickly blast, the fever'd ray,
And Peace, and Pleasure, lead the shining Day!
Yet, when thou know'st for me, that Sorrow shrouds
Hope's crystal mirror with impervious clouds,
The sighs, and tears, that tenderest pity speak,
Shall swell thy breast, and chill thy glowing cheek;
Since one have been our pleasures, one our cares,
From the first dawn of those delicious years,
What time, inspir'd by joy's enlivening powers,
We chas'd the gilded Insect through the bowers;
And oh! I fondly tell my anxious heart,
The dearest truth experience can impart,
That yet, to quench this sympathy of soul,
Time, and the world of waters, vainly roll.


    O'er this deep Glen, departing Autumn throws,
With kind reverted glance, a short repose,
Ere yet she leaves her ENGLAND'S fading scene,
Where sickly yellow stains the vivid green,
And many an icy morn, and stormy gale,
Embrown the pathway of the winding vale.


    Now, while I seek the bosom of the Glade,
And the thin shelter of th' impoverish'd Shade,
Unequal steps, and rising sighs, disclose
The thorny pressure of tyrannic woes;
And where th' incumbent Rock, with awful face,
Bends o'er the fountain, gurgling from its base,
And marks the limit of the silent Dell,
Sadly I sit, my bosom'd griefs to tell;
Invoke thy Spirit, those fond griefs to sooth,
And bid, alas! their surging tide be smooth.


    It will not be;--since here, with yearning thought,
By weak, involuntary impulse brought,
Where Love and Memory bear resistless sway,
And all the weakness of the Soul betray!


    O ye known objects!--how ye strike my heart!
And vain regrets, with keener force, impart!
Slow, through the faded grove, past Pleasures glide,
Or sadly linger by the fountain's side.


    Dear, awful witness of a broken vow,
Steep Rock, how sternly frowns thy rugged brow!
But, if the frequent blast shall bend thy pines,
Clear at thy foot the crystal water shines!
Though drizzling Clouds the misty Mountains veil,
Yet the mild Sun-beam gilds the narrow Dale!
Though vernal flow'rs this bank no more adorn,
Nor Summer's wild rose blushes on its thorn,
Yet shelter'd, mossy, dry, and warm, it draws
The heedless roving step to quiet pause.


    Thus the pale Year, though Nature's edicts urge
Her step to Winter's desolating verge,
Sedately passes to the drear domain,
And breathes, e'en yet, soft comforts o'er the plain;
But oh! for me, in Youth's luxuriant glow,
Hope's lovely florets wither as they blow!
 
 
    No grief my bosom at our parting knew,
But that of bidding thee a long adieu;
And the sweet tears, that such soft sorrows bring,
Fall, as light rain-drops in the sunny Spring;
For youthful Hope, subduing tender Fears,
Bounds o'er the gulf of interposing Years;
While, through their course, her airy hands avert
Misfortune's arrow from the Wanderer's heart.


    Soon then did Cheerfulness the morn illume,
And Peace descend with Evening's grateful gloom;
They saw my breast in that clear spirit gay,
Which speeds the social hour so fast away.


    Now Expectation's fervour rose, to hail
The youthful Master of this quiet Vale,
My blooming Brother--from Oxonia's towers,
Who fought, with tender haste, his native bowers.


    'Twas Noon, and ripen'd Summer's fervid ray
From cloudless Ether shed oppressive day.
As on this shady bank I sat reclin'd,
My voice, that floated on the waving wind,
Taught the soft echos of the neighboring plains
Milton's sweet lays, in Handel's matchless strains.
Presaging notes my lips unconscious try,
And murmur-- " Hide me from Day's garish eye!"
Ah! blest, had Death beneath his sable shrine
Hid me from all the woes that since were mine!


    Beneath my trembling fingers lightly rung
The Lute's sweet chords, responsive while I sung.
Faint in the yellow broom the Oxen lay,
And the mute Birds sat languid on the spray;
And nought was heard, around the noon-tide bower,
Save, that the mountain Bee, from flower to flower,
Seem'd to prolong, with her assiduous wing,
The soft vibration of the tuneful string;
While the fierce Skies flam'd on the shrinking Rills,
And sultry Silence brooded o'er the Hills!


    As on my lip the lingering cadence play'd,
My Brother gaily bounded down the glade,
And, while my looks the fire of gladness dart,
With ardor press'd me to his throbbing heart;
Then to a graceful Stranger turn'd, whose feet,
With steps less swift, my coyer welcome meet.
O'er his fine form, and o'er his glowing face,
Youth's ripen'd bloom had shed its richest grace;
Tall as the Pine, amidst inferior Trees,
With all the bending Osier's pliant ease.
O'er his fair brow, the fairer for their shade,
Locks of the warmest brown luxuriant play'd.
Blushing he bows!--and gentle awe supplies
Each flattering meaning to his downcast eyes;
Sweet, serious, tender, those blue eyes impart
A thousand dear sensations to the heart;
Mild as the Evening Star, whose shining ray
Soft in th' unruffled Water seems to play;
And when he speaks--not Music's thrilling pow'r,
No, not the vocal Mistress of the bow'r,
When slow she warbles from the blossom'd spray,
In liquid blandishment, her evening lay,
Such soft insinuating sweetness knows,
As from that voice in melting accent flows!


    Yet why, fond Memory! why, in tints so warm,
Paint'st thou each beauty of that faultless Form?
His specious virtues surely might impart
Excuse more just for this devoted heart.
Oh! how each noble passion's seeming trace,
Threw transient glories o'er his youthful face!
How rose, with sudden impulse, swift, and strong,
For ev'ry secret fraud, and open wrong
Th' Oppressor acts, the Helpless feel, or fear,
Disdain's quick throb, and Pity's melting tear!
So well its part each ductile feature play'd,
Of worth, such firm, though silent promise made,
That to have doubted its well painted truth,
Had been to want the primal grace of youth
Credulity, that scorns, with gen'rous heat,
Alike to practise, or suspect deceit.


    Cease, vain Regrets; excursive Fancy, cease!
Ye only wound afresh my bleeding peace,
And keep from gentle EMMA'S anxious ear
Th' event she longs, yet kindly dreads, to hear;
But ah! nor singular, nor strange the tale,
My Sister-Sufferers mourn in every vale;
For gold, and dazzling state, incessant prove,
In Man's hard heart, the Murderers of Love.


    While many a Sun in Summer-glory rose,
EUGENIO'S lip no softer accent knows
Than Friendship dictates--but disorder'd praise,
Scarce half-express'd; the musing ardent gaze;
The varying cheek; the frequent smother'd sigh,
Reveal the latent meaning of his eye;
Plain, and yet plainer ev'ry hour, declare
The shining secrecies, that languish there.


These are the days that fly on Rapture's wing,
Empurpling ev'ry flower that decks the Spring;
For when delicious Hope, with whisper bland,
Wakes the dear magic of her potent wand,
More vivid colours paint the rising Morn,
And clearer crystal gems the silver thorn;
On more luxuriant shade the Noon-beam plays,
And richer gold the Evening-Sun arrays;
Stars seem to glitter with enamour'd fire,
And shadowy Hills in statelier grace aspire;
More subtle sweetness scents the passing gales,
And softer beauty decks the moon-light Vales;
All Nature smiles! nor e'en the jocund Day,
When festive roses strew the bridal way,
Darts through the Virgin breast such keen delight,
As when soft Fears with gay Belief unite;
As Hope, sweet, warm, seducing Hope inspires,
Which somewhat questions, what it most desires;
Reads latent meaning in a Lover's eye,
Thrills at his glance, and trembles at his sigh;
As o'er the Frame disorder'd transport pours,
When only less than Certainty is ours.


    At length, that rosy Certainty appears,
With faithless promises of golden years.
Here, by this fountain side, EUGENIO strove
To trace the tender progress of his love;
'Twas on the Evening of a splendid Day;--
Calm on the gilded grass the fountain lay!
But oh! when doubt, in that dear moment, fled,
A calm more sunny o'er my bosom spread!


    As the gay Lark his last clear carol sung,
And on a slanting Sun-beam warbling hung,
With sweeter music trill'd the vesper lay,
Than when he soar'd amid the blaze of Day;
But yet a thousand times more sweet the sound,
In which my Soul its dearest blessing found!


    Slow on the Sun had stol'n the sailing Cloud,
And drawn o'er his gay fires the purple shroud,
Then roll'd away!--till, by no shade represt,
Afar the setting Orb emblaz'd the West;
Lighted with arrowy beams the Ocean caves,
And sunk with splendor in th' illumin'd waves!


    Thus oft would Modesty her blush employ,
Coyly to veil the radiance of my joy;
But from these eyes the sun-bright gladness beam'd,
And all the triumph of my bosom stream'd!


    'Twas here,--e'en here!--where now I sit reclin'd,
And Winter's sighs sound hollow in the Wind;
Loud, and more loud the blast of Evening raves,
And strips the Oaks of their last, lingering leaves;
The eddying foliage in the tempest flies,
And fills with duskier gloom the thick'ning Skies.
Red sinks the Sun, behind the howling Hill,
And rushes, with hoarse stream, the mountain Rill,
And now, with ruffling billow, cold, and pale,
Runs, swoln, and dashing, down the lonely Vale;
While, to these tear-full eyes, Grief's faded form
Sits on the Cloud, and sighs amid the Storm!


    Yet, dreary Vale! detain thy pensive Guest,
Though drizzling sleet beats cold upon her breast!
To this sad Soul more welcome are thy glooms,
Than Spring's green bowers, or Summer's gaudy blooms;
Nor asks an Heart, that only breathes to sigh,
A warmer mansion, or a kinder Sky!


    And still that destin'd Heart, so fond to mourn,
And dwell on scenes, which never can return,
Shrinks, e'en as guilty bosoms shrink from shame,
To join with Perfidy EUGENIO'S name;
Feels its soft streams in ev'ry pulse recede
From the pain'd mention of one barbarous deed,
That kills my hopes, like Eurus' fierce career
On the bright foliage of the early year;
Which turns, while premature its buds disclose,
To livid yellowness the damask Rose.


    Thou see'st, my EMMA , with what fond delay
Th' unwilling Spirit loiters on her way;
Clings to past scenes that wore gay Summer's form;
Clings to the wildness of the wint'ry Storm,
To stop the sad narration, e'er it throw,
Dark on my fate, the long, long night of Woe.


    Yet, O my Soul! resume it, ere the power
Of wasting Sickness brings the fever'd Hour,
That stops th' ill-guided pen in the weak hand,
And shakes from Life's dim glass the ebbing sand!


    Thou, EMMA , wilt not blame my easy youth,
That soon this Heart declar'd its tenderest truth.
Ah! could I dream he feign'd, whose glances warm
With ceaseless ardor wander'd o'er my form?
And as gay smiles, and youthful graces fair,
Shone in my eyes, and harmoniz'd my air,
Not one unheeded pass'd his eager gaze,
His fervent, yet discriminating praise;
Though oft he swore, amid the fond survey,
The Mind they grac'd was lovelier far than they;
Protected oft, that Mind was form'd to share
Each high-soul'd purpose, and each virtuous care;
Catch ev'ry new idea, as it rose,
Partake his joys, and melt with all its woes;
False could I think that vow, whose starting tear
Sprung, the warm witness of a faith sincere?


    Now daw'nd th' appointed, but unwelcome Day,
That bore my dearest Brother far away,
Where foreign Climes might store his ripening Youth,
With Observation, Science, Taste, and Truth.


    The same sad Day my lov'd EUGENIO sigh'd
Adieus impassion'd to his promis'd Bride;
Yet often urg'd, inspiring faithless ease,
That between us Fate spread no cruel Seas ;
Alas! in his chang'd Heart my eyes explore,
Of Falsehood's waves,--a Sea,--without a Shore!


    Where Thames expands with Freedom's wealthy pride,
Attractive Commerce calls him to her Tide;
As with firm step she runs along the Strand,
And points to the tall Ship, the distant Land.
His rising interests on the call attend,
For with a Father's prosperous fate they blend.
Thus, with these interests, Duty's filial power
Unites to tear him from LOUISA'S bower;
But parting Sorrows yield them to the force
Of strong Necessity's resistless course,
By generous Confidence when lull'd to rest,
That broods, on dove-like pinion, o'er the breast;
While, from kind letters, rays of joy pervade
The gloomy moments of the love-sick Maid;
And oh! how warm, how bright those letters glow'd,
What ardent Love, in melting language flow'd,
My dearest EMMA , thou wilt ne'er explore;
The brilliant Talismans are mine no more!
Pride, Virgin-Pride, pronounc'd the stern behest,
And tore the faithless Scriptures from my breast!


    Through four sweet months, to my delighted eyes
These precious tablets of my bliss arise!
At length, dread Silence,--torturing Doubt, and Fear,
Prompt the pang'd sigh--but check the softer tear;
Through the lone Day, and lonelier Night, impart
"The Hope deferr'd, that maketh sick the Heart."
Wish'd Morning comes!--and Hour succeeds to Hour!
But still, Suspense, and Terror, o'er me lower;
Chace each conjecture kind, with fierce controul,
And send their cruel ice-bolt through my soul.


    Three wretched weeks my throbbing bosom bears
The wounding conflict of its various fears,
While Rumour's voice inflames my grief, and pride,
And gives EUGENIO to a wealthier Bride.
My trembling hands, the sick suspense to ease,
From Day to Day the public records seize;
While glances, rapid as the meteor's ray,
Eager amidst the crowded columns stray;
Snatch at sad Certainty from busy Fame,
Yet dread to meet my dear EUGENIO'S Name.


    Now glooms on the stain'd page the barbarous Truth,
And blights each blooming promise of my youth!
EUGENIO married! --Anguish, and Despair,
In ev'ry pompous killing letter glare!
Thy Love, a Sacrifice to glut thy Pride!--
Ah! what avail the riches of thy Bride!
Can they avail, remorseless as thou art,
To tear the wrong'd LOUISA from thy heart?


    Gold, and ye Gems, that lurk in Eastern Cave,
Or to the Sun your gay resplendence wave,
Can joys sincere, one heart-felt transport live
In ought ye purchase, or in ought ye give?
A Bliss, to rival those thy avarice lost,
Insolvent INDIA shall but vainly boast!


    Was it for this my gentle Brother's heart
Bore in our growing loves so warm a part!
That soft Indulgence deck'd his open brows,
That Smiles fraternal hail'd our mutual vows!
And, as he kindly breath'd the parting sigh,
Love's crystal fluid rushing to his eye,
Was it for this our blooming Hopes he blest,
Seiz'd our twin'd hands, and clasp'd them to his breast?
Ah! did he know his lov'd LOUISA'S fate,
What Energy would nerve his rising Hate!
Haste, my LORENZO , to thy Sister's aid!
With thy swift vengeance be her wrongs repaid!
Ye rising Winds, his wandering Sails restore!
Ye refluent Waters, bear him to the Shore!


    And thou, vain Bride! enjoy the Meteor-ray,
The fancied sun-beam of thy nuptial Day!
Stern Fury waits, to quench its transient light,
In deep, ensanguin'd, everlasting Night!
Bleed, Faithless, bleed!--LOUISA'S Wrongs explor'd,
Shall frown relentless on her Brother's sword!
--Rash, lost LOUISA !--could'st thou bear the strife?
Throw on a fatal chance thy Brother's life?
Or stretch, a victim to thy proud disdain,
EUGENIO , pale, and bleeding, on the plain?
Endure that from a bosom, once so dear,
Convulsive pangs the trembling Life should tear?
Oh! should'st thou, certain of the cruel truth,
Behold, in Fancy's eye, the slaughter'd Youth,
Could'st thou that lov'd, that lovely Form survey,
And see it faded to insensate Clay?
Eternal silence stiffen on that tongue?
No! wildly from the bare surmise, I start,
And treble fondness rushes through my heart;
Live!--live, EUGENIO !--free from fierce alarms,
Blest, if thou canst, e'en in my Rival's arms!
O! safe, through lengthen'd years, may'st thou remain
From all the varied forms of deathful Pain!
From injur'd Honor's unrelenting ire,
The blast of Accident, the Fever's fire!
Soft may those dangerous graces melt away,
And gently sink in scarce perceiv'd decay!


    For this my breast its cureless woes shall hide,
Nor sting fraternal Love, nor generous Pride.
Yes, dear LORENZO ! thou shalt still believe,
Though much the thought thy gentle breast will grieve,
LOUISA , lost to tenderness, and truth,
In the vain levity of thoughtless Youth,
Prov'd to EUGENIO'S love a cold Ingrate,
And lightly splenetic deserv'd her fate.


    Cruel Remembrance! how shall I assuage
The yearning pangs of thy incessant rage?
What balmy comfort can the Heart pervade,
When bitter tears his broken faith upbraid,
Whose hand, we fondly hop'd, should wipe away
Their flowing sorrows through each future Day?
Since in Reflection's grasp each Blessing dies,
When the forc'd struggling Spirit must despise
Him who, encircled with Perfection's zone,
Long in our sight scarce less than Angel shone.
For if Credulity her warmth impart,
With veils of Light she screens the selfish Heart;
But barbarous Perfidy's severe extreme,
In shades eternal, shrouds each gorgeous beam.


    On the arch'd windows thus, that proudly grace
An high majestic Temple's awful face,
When pours the setting Sun its darting rays,
An hundred solar Orbs appear to blaze;
But when th' incumbent shades of lowering Night
Curtain the source of this illusive light,
Its evanescent fires no more remain,
But Horrors gather round the darken'd Fane;
The lofty Turrets, desolately grand,
In dreary state, and lonely silence stand;
Through the dim Ailes pale Spectres seem to fleet,
And hollow groans the whispering Walls repeat.


    So, round EUGENIO'S form, that rises yet,
'Mid Pride's cold frown, and Passion's warm regret,
Depriv'd of all the lustre it retain'd,
When gay Belief with sunny hue remain'd,
Incessant now the Fiends of avarice glide,
With dark Ambition scowling at their side.


    Detested impotence of flatter'd charms,
That could not bind my Wanderer to my arms!
Ah! what avail'd your beauties, but to lure
That fleeting Love, ye knew not to secure!


    Like opening flow'rs, that deck the desert Glade
Fair to no purpose, flatter'd Graces fade!--
One healing draught--and all shall yet be well!
"Peace is the pale-ey'd Sister of the Cell,"
The cell of DEATH--where Misery only knows
The soft exemption,--and the long repose.


    Ah no!--a guardian Spirit seems to say,
"Stay thee, LOUISA , yet a little stay!
"Awake not righteous Heaven's avenging Hate,
"By rashly plunging in the waves of Fate!
"Though Time, for woes like thine, admits no cure,
"Yet learn its hardest lesson, to endure!
"Not long shall life her torturing sense impart
"Of the barb'd shaft, that rankles in thy heart.
"Thou shalt not need to stain thy spotless Soul,
"Nor want th' ensanguin'd knife, th' envenom'd bowl;
"Thy Soul's Belov'd, by vain ambition fir'd,
"Deaf, as the Grave, to all that once inspir'd,
"To Love's soft voice,--to Honor's awful plea,
"Lives to another!--and is lost to thee!"


    EUGENIO married! --Oh!--yon Village-bell,
That flings on the cold Gale its mournful knell!
The solemn pause,--the loud repeated toll,
Calling the pale Corse to its darksome goal,
Not plainer there the tale of Death relate,
Than these deterred words pronounce my fate!
EUGENIO married , seals LOUISA'S doom,
Her sure, though lingering passport to the tomb!


    And thou, soft Mourner o'er my bosom's smart!
Friend of my Soul, and Sister of my Heart!
A fallen Blossom while thy tears embalm,
Regrets that Fondness prompts, let Fondness calm;
Since though this mortal Frame, Affection's slave,
Wastes by th' envenom'd wound that Falsehood gave,
I still possess, thus withering in my youth,
The peace of Innocence, the pride of Truth;
My Soul is conscious of its heavenly Sire,
The Cherub Faith has lent her wings of fire;
Man, the base object of my scorn, it leaves,
To join that gracious Power, that ne'er deceives!


    When busy Rumours to thy ear disclose
The long enfranchisement of all my woes,
Oh! let thy Mind's pure eye behoId me soar
Where Light, and Life, from Springs unfailing pour!
Mark the bright circlets of th' eternal Morn,
In radiant points, my smiling brows adorn!
By kindred Seraphs see thy Friend embrac'd,
Not one slight thought on false EUGENIO waste!
Yet, though from Pain and Grief for ever free,
Throw back soft Pity's tender glance on thee!
Smile at the human weakness of thy tears,
And long to welcome thee to HAPPIER SPHERES!