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ABELARD and Eloifa flourished in the twelfth Century; they were two of the most distinguished perfons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate paffion. After a long courfe of calamities, they retired each to a feveral Convent, and confecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this feparation, that a letter of Abelard's to a Friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into the hands of Eloifa. This awakening all her tenderness, occafioned thofe celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted) which give fo lively a picture of the ftruggles of grace and nature, virtue and paffion.





N these deep folitudes and awful cells,

Where heavenly penfive contemplation dwells, And ever-mufing melancholy reigns;

What means this tumult in a Vestal's veins?

Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love!-From Abelard it came,
And Eloïfa yet must kiss the name.

Dear fatal name! reft ever unreveal'd,

Nor pafs thefe lips in holy filence feal'd :
Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise,
Where, mix'd with God's, his lov'd idea lies:
O write it not, my hand-the name appears
Already written-wash it out, my tears!
In vain loft Eloïfa weeps and prays,
Her heart ftill dictates, and her hand obeys.

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Relentless walls! whofe darkfome round contains

Repentant fighs, and voluntary pains :

Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns fhagg'd with horrid thorn!
Shrines! where their vigils pale-eyed virgins keep,
And pitying faints, whofe statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmov'd and filent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.

N 4



All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part,
Still rebel Nature holds out half my heart;

Nor prayers nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears for ages taught to flow in vain.

Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,


That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh name for ever fad! for ever dear!


Still breath'd in fighs, still usher'd with a tear.

I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a fad variety of woe:


Now warm in love, now withering in my bloom,
Loft in a convent's folitary gloom!

There ftern Religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,

There dy'd the best of paffions, Love and Fame.

Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo fighs to thine,
Nor foes nor fortune take this power away;
And is my Abelard less kind than they?
Tears ftill are mine, and those I need not spare,
Love but demands what else were shed in prayer;
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;
To read and weep is all they now can do.

Then fhare thy pain,

Ah, more than share it,

allow that fad relief;

give me all thy grief,

Heaven first taught letters for fome wretch's aid,

Some banish'd lover, or fome captive maid;




They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires, Warm from the foul, and faithful to its fires,


The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excufe the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the foft intercourfe from foul to foul,
And waft a figh from Indus to the Pole.

Thou know'ft how guiltless first I met thy flame, When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name; My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind,

Some emanation of th' All-beauteous Mind.

Those smiling eyes, attempering every ray,

Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day.


Guiltless I gaz'd; heaven liften'd while you fung;, 65.
And truths divine came mended from that tongue.
From lips like those what precept fail'd to move?
Too foon they taught me 'twas no fin to love:
Back through the paths of pleafing sense I ran,
Nor wish'd an Angel whom I lov'd a Man.
Dim and remote the joys of faints I fee;-
Nor envy them that heaven I lofe for thee.

How oft, when prefs'd to marriage, have I said,
Curfe on all laws but thofe which love has made!
Love, free as air, at fight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame,
August her deed, and facred be her fame;

Before true paffion all those views remove,



Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love? 80
The jealous God, when we prophane his fires,
Those restless paffions in revenge infpires,
And bids them make mistaken mortals groan,
Who seek in love for aught but love alone.


Should at my feet the world's great master fall,

Himself, his throne, his world, I'd fcorn them all:
Not Cæfar's emprefs would I deign to prove ;
No, make me mistress to the man I love.

If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
O! happy ftate! when fouls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature law:
All then is full, poffeffing, and poffefs'd,
No craving void left aching in the breast:

Ev'n thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part,
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
This fure is blifs (if blifs on earth there be)
And once the lot of Abelard and me.

Alas, how chang'd! what fudden horrors rife !
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloïfe? her voice, her hand,
Her poynard had oppos'd the dire command.
Barbarian, ftay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by fhame, by rage suppress'd,
Let tears and burning blushes speak the rest.





Canft thou forget that fad, that folemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canft thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell? 110
As with cold lips I kifs'd the facred veil,

The fhrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale:
Heaven scarce believ'd the Conqueft it furvey'd,
And Saints with wonder heard the vows I made.


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