Hic pietatis honos? sic nos in sceptra reponis!


Her Guilford clasps her, beautiful in death,
And with a kiss recalls her fleeting breath,
To tapers thus, which by a blast expire,
A lighted taper, touch'd, restores the fire:
She rear'd her swimming eye, and saw the light,
And Guilford too, or she had loath'd the sight:
Her father's death she bore, despis'd her own,
But now she must, she will, have leave to groan:
Ah! Guilford, she began, and would have spoke;
But sobs rush'd in, and ev'ry accent broke:
Reason itself, as gusts of passion blew,
Was ruffled in the tempest, and withdrew.
So the youth lost his image in the well,
When tears upon the yielding surface fell.
The scatter'd features slid into decay,
And spreading circles drove his face away.
To touch the soft affections, and control
The manly temper of the bravest soul,
What with afflicted beauty can compare,
And drops of love distilling from the fair?
It melts us down; our pains delight bestow;
And we with fondness languish o'er our woe.
This Guilford prov'd; and, with excess of pain,
And pleasure too, did to his bosom strain
The weeping fair: sunk deep in soft desire,
Indulg'd his love, and nurs'd the raging fire:
Then tore himself away; and, standing wide,
As fearing a relapse of fondness, cried,
With ill-dissembled grief; "My life, forbear!
You wound your Guilford with each cruel tear:
Did you not chide my grief? repress your own;
Nor want compassion for yourself alone:
Have you beheld, how, from the distant main,
The thronging waves roll on, a num'rous train,
And foam, and bellow, till they reach the shore;
There burst their noisy pride, and are no more?
Thus the successive flows of human race,
Chas'd by the coming, the preceding, chase;
They sound, and swell, their haughty heads they rear;
Then fall, and flatten, break, and disappear.
Life is a forfeit we must shortly pay;
And where's the mighty lucre of a day?
Why should you mourn my fate? 'tis most unkind;
Your own you bore with an unshaken mind:
And which, can you imagine, was the dart
That drank most blood, sunk deepest in my heart?
I cannot live without you; and my doom
I meet with joy, to share one common tomb.--
And are again your tears profusely spilt!
Oh! then, my kindness blackens to my guilt;
It foils itself, if it recall your pain;--
Life of my life, I beg you to refrain!
The load which fate imposes, you increase;
And help Maria to destroy my peace."
But, oh! against himself his labour turn'd;
The more he comforted, the more she mourn'd:
Compassion swells our grief; words soft and kind
But soothe our weakness, and dissolve the mind:
Her sorrow flow'd in streams; nor hers alone,
While that he blam'd, he yielded to his own.
Where are the smiles she wore, when she, so late,
Hail'd him great partner of the regal state;
When orient gems around her temples blaz'd,
And bending nations on the glory gaz'd?
'Tis now the queen's command, they both retreat,
To weep with dignity, and mourn in state:
She forms the decent misery with joy,
And loads with pomp the wretch she would destroy.
A spacious hall is hung with black; all light
Shut out, and noon-day darken'd into night.
From the mid-roof a lamp depends on high,
Like a dim crescent in a clouded sky:
It sheds a quiv'ring melancholy gloom,
Which only shows the darkness of the room.
A shining axe is on the table laid;
A dreadful sight! and glitters through the shade.
In this sad scene the lovers are confin'd;
A scene of terrors, to a guilty mind!
A scene, that would have damp'd with rising cares,
And quite extinguish'd every love but theirs.
What can they do? They fix their mournful eyes----
Then Guilford, thus abruptly; "I despise
An empire lost; I fling away the crown;
Numbers have laid that bright delusion down;
But where's the Charles, or Dioclesian where,
Could quit the blooming, wedded, weeping fair?
Oh! to dwell ever on thy lip! to stand
In full possession of thy snowy hand!
And, thro' th' unclouded crystal of thine eye,
The heavenly treasures of thy mind to spy!
Till rapture reason happily destroys,
And my soul wanders through immortal joys!
Give me the world, and ask me, where's my bliss?
I clasp thee to my breast, and answer, this.
And shall the grave"--He groans, and can no more;
But all her charms in silence traces o'er;
Her lip, her cheek, and eye, to wonder wrought;
And, wond'ring, sees, in sad presaging thought,
From that fair neck, that world of beauty fall,
And roll along the dust, a ghastly ball!
Oh! let those tremble, who are greatly bless'd!
For who, but Guilford, could be thus distress'd?
Come hither, all you happy, all you great,
From flowery meadows, and from rooms of state;
Nor think I call, your pleasures to destroy,
But to refine, and to exalt your joy:
Weep not; but, smiling, fix your ardent care
On nobler titles than the brave or fair.
Was ever such a mournful, moving sight?
See, if you can, by that dull, trembling light:
Now they embrace; and, mix'd with bitter woe,
Like Isis and her Thames, one stream they flow:
Now they start wide; fix'd in benumbing care,
They stiffen into statues of despair:
Now, tenderly severe, and fiercely kind,
They rush at once; they fling their cares behind,
And clasp, as if to death; new vows repeat;
And, quite wrapp'd up in love, forget their fate.
A short delusion! for the raging pain
Returns; and their poor hearts must bleed again.
Meantime, the queen new cruelty decreed;
But, ill content that they should only bleed,
A priest is sent; who, with insidious art,
Instills his poison into Suffolk's heart;
And Guilford drank it: banging on the breast,
He from his childhood was with Rome possest.
When now the ministers of death draw nigh,
And in her dearest lord she first must die,
The subtle priest, who long had watch'd to find
The most unguarded passes of her mind,
Bespoke her thus: "Grieve not; 'tis in your power
Your lord to rescue from this fatal hour."
Her bosom pants; she draws her breath with pain;
A sudden horror thrills through every vein;
Life seems suspended, on his words intent;
And her soul trembles for the great event.
The priest proceeds: "Embrace the faith of Rome,
And ward your own, your lord's, and father's doom."
Ye blessed spirits! now your charge sustain;
The past was ease; now first she suffers pain.
Must she pronounce her father's death? must she
Bid Guilford bleed?--It must not, cannot, be.
It cannot be! But 'tis the Christian's praise,
Above impossibilities to raise
The weakness of our nature; and deride
Of vain philosophy the boasted pride.
What though our feeble sinews scarce impart
A moment's swiftness to the feather'd dart;
Though tainted air our vig'rous youth can break,
And a chill blast the hardy warrior shake,
Yet are we strong: hear the loud tempest roar
From east to west, and call us weak no more;
The lightning's unresisted force proclaims
Our might; and thunders raise our humble names;
'Tis our Jehovah fills the heavens; as long
As he shall reign Almighty, we are strong:
We, by devotion, borrow from his throne;
And almost make Omnipotence our own:
We force the gates of heaven, by fervent prayer;
And call forth triumph out of man's despair.
Our lovely mourner, kneeling, lifts her eyes
And bleeding heart, in silence, to the skies,
Devoutly sad--then, bright'ning, like the day,
When sudden winds sweep scatter'd clouds away,
Shining in majesty, till now unknown,
And breathing life and spirit scarce her own;
She, rising, speaks: "If these the terms----"
Here, Guilford, cruel Guilford, (barb'rous man!
Is this thy love?) as swift as lightning ran;
O'erwhelm'd her with tempestuous sorrow fraught,
And stifled, in its birth, the mighty thought;
Then bursting fresh into a flood of tears,
Fierce, resolute, delirious with his fears;
His fears for her alone: he beat his breast,
And thus the fervour of his soul exprest:
"Oh! let thy thought o'er our past converse rove,
And show one moment uninflam'd with love!
Oh! if thy kindness can no longer last,
In pity to thyself, forget the past!
Else wilt thou never, void of shame and fear,
Pronounce his doom, whom thou hast held so dear:
Thou who hast took me to thy arms, and swore
Empires were vile, and fate could give no more:
That to continue, was its utmost power,
And make the future like the present hour.
Now call a ruffian; bid his cruel sword
Lay wide the bosom of thy worthless lord;
Transfix his heart (since you its love disclaim),
And stain his honour with a traitor's name.
This might perhaps be borne without remorse;
But sure a father's pangs will have their force!
Shall his good age, so near its journey's end,
Through cruel torment to the grave descend?
His shallow blood all issue at a wound,
Wash a slave's feet, and smoke upon the ground?
But he to you has ever been severe;
Then take your vengeance"--Suffolk now drew near;
Bending beneath the burden of his care;
His robes neglected, and his head was bare;
Decrepid winter, in the yearly ring,
Thus slowly creeps, to meet the blooming spring:
Downward he cast a melancholy look;
Thrice turn'd, to hide his grief; then faintly spoke:
"Now deep in years, and forward in decay,
That axe can only rob me of a day;
For thee, my soul's desire! I can't refrain;
And shall my tears, my last tears, flow in vain?
When you shall know a mother's tender name,
My heart's distress no longer will you blame."
At this, afar his bursting groans were heard;
The tears ran trickling down his silver beard:
He snatch'd her hand, which to his lips he prest,
And bid her plant a dagger in his breast;
Then, sinking, call'd her piety unjust,
And soil'd his hoary temples in the dust.
Hard-hearted men! will you no mercy know?
Has the queen brib'd you to distress her foe?
O weak deserters to misfortune's part,
By false affection thus to pierce her heart!
When she had soar'd, to let your arrows fly,
And fetch her bleeding from the middle sky!
And can her virtue, springing from the ground,
Her flight recover, and disdain the wound,
When cleaving love, and human interest, bind
The broken force of her aspiring mind;
As round the gen'rous eagle, which in vain
Exerts her strength, the serpent wreaths his train,
Her struggling wings entangles, curling plies
His pois'nous tail, and stings her as she flies!
While yet the blow's first dreadful weight she feels,
And with its force her resolution reels;
Large doors, unfolding with a mournful sound,
To view discover, welt'ring on the ground,
Three headless trunks, of those whose arms maintain'd,
And in her wars immortal glory gain'd:
The lifted axe assur'd her ready doom,
And silent mourners sadden'd all the room.
Shall I proceed; or here break off my tale;
Nor truths, to stagger human faith, reveal?
She met this utmost malice of her fate
With Christian dignity, and pious state:
The beating storm's propitious rage she blest,
And all the martyr triumph'd in her breast:
Her lord and father, for a moment's space,
She strictly folded in her soft embrace!
Then thus she spoke, while angels heard on high,
And sudden gladness smil'd along the sky:
"Your over fondness has not mov'd my hate;
I am well pleas'd you make my death so great;
I joy I cannot save you; and have giv'n
Two lives, much dearer than my own, to heaven,
If so the queen decrees:(4)--But I have cause
To hope my blood will satisfy the laws;
And there is mercy still, for you, in store:
With me the bitterness of death is o'er.
He shot his sting in that farewell embrace;
And all, that is to come, is joy and peace.
Then let mistaken sorrow be supprest,
Nor seem to envy my approaching rest."
Then, turning to the ministers of fate,
She, smiling, says, "My victory complete:
And tell your queen, I thank her for the blow,
And grieve my gratitude I cannot show:
A poor return I leave in England's crown,
For everlasting pleasure, and renown:
Her guilt alone allays this happy hour;
Her guilt,--the only vengeance in her power."
Not Rome, untouch'd with sorrow, heard her fate;
And fierce Maria pitied her too late.