« PreviousContinue »
May view with envy; these, Iberian dames
Survey with fix'd esteem and fond defire.
Haplefs Elvira! thy disast'rous fate
May well this truth explain; nor ill adorn
The British lyre: then chiefly, if the Mufe,
Nor vain, nor partial, from the fimple guife
Of ancient record catch the penfive lay;
And in lefs grov'ling accents give to fame.
Elvira lovelieft maid! th' Iberian realm
Could boast no purer breast, no sprightlier mind,
No race more fplendent, and no form so fair.
Such was the chance of war; this peerless maid,
In life's luxuriant bloom, enrich'd the spoil
Of British victors, victory's nobleft pride!
She, fhe alone, amid the wailful train
Of captive maids, affign'd to Henry's care;
Lord of her life, her fortune, and her fame!
He, gen'rous youth, with no penurious hand,
The tedious moments that unjoyous roll
Where freedom's chearful radiance fhines no more,
Effay'd to foften; confcious of the pang
That beauty feels, to wafte it's fleeting hours
In fome dim fort, by foreign rule restrain’d,
Far from the haunts of men or eye of day!
Sometimes, to cheat her bofom of it's cares,
Her kind protector number'd o'er the toils
Himself had worn: the frowns of angry feas,
Or hoftile rage, or faithlefs friend, more fell
Than ftorm or foe; if haply she might find
Her cares diminish'd; fruitlefs, fond effay!
Now to her lovely hand, with modest awe
The tender lute he gave: fhe, not averse
Nor deftitute of skill, with willing hand
Call'd forth angelick ftrains; the facred debt
Of gratitude, fhe faid; whofe juft commands
Still might her hand with equal pride obey!
Nor to the melting founds the nymph refus'd
Her vocal art; harmonious, as the strain
Of fome imprison'd lark, who daily chear'd
By guardian cares, repays them with a song:
Nor droops, nor deems sweet liberty refign'd.
The fong, not artless, had she fram'd to paint
Difaftrous paffion; how, by tyrant laws
Of idiot custom fway'd, fome foft-ey'd fair
Lov'd only one; nor dar'd that love reveal!
How the foft anguish banish'd from her cheek
The damafk rofe full blown! a fever came;
And from her bofom forc'd the plaintive tale.
Then, fwift as light, he fought the love-lorn maid,
But vainly fought her; torn by fwifter fate
To join the tenants of the myrtle shade,
Love's mournful victims on the plains below.
Sometimes, as Fancy fpoke the pleafing task,
She taught her artful needle to display
The various pride of fpring; then fwift up-fprung
Thickets of myrtle, eglantine, and rofe:
There might you fee, on gentle toils intent,
A train of bufy loves; fome pluck the flow'r,
Some twine the garland, fome with grave grimace,
Around a vacant warrior caft the wreath.
'Twas paint, 'twas life! and fure, to piercing eyes,
The warrior's face depictur'd Henry's mien.
Now had the gen'rous chief with joy perus'd
The royal fcroll, which to their native home
Their ancient rights, uninjur'd, unredeem'd,
Reftor'd the captives. Forth with rapid haste
To glad his fair Elvira's ear, he sprung;
Fir'd by the bliss he panted to convey:
But fir'd in vain! Ah, what was his amaze,
His fond diftrefs, when o'er her pallid face
Dejection reign'd, and from her lifeless hand
Down dropp'd the myrtle's fair, unfinish'd flow'r !
Speechlefs fhe ftood; at length, with accents faint, Well may my native fhore,' fhe faid,
Thy monarch's praife; and ere Elvira prove
Of thine forgetful, flow'rs fhall cease to feel
The foft'ring breeze, and Nature change her laws!'
And now the grateful edict wide alarm'd
The British hoft. Around the fmiling youths
Call'd to their native scenes, with willing hafte
Their fleet unmoor, impatient of the love
That weds each bofom to it's native foil.
The patriot paffion ftrong in ev'ry clime,
How juftly theirs, who find no foreign sweets
To diffipate their loves, or match their own.
Not fo Elvira! fhe, difaft'rous maid!
Was doubly captive; pow'r nor chance could loofe
The fubtle bands; fhe lov'd her gen'rous foe.
She, where her Henry dwelt, her Henry fmil'd,
Could term her native fhore; her native fhore
By him deferted, fome unfriendly ftrand,
Strange, bleak, forlorn! a defart waste and wild,
The fleet careen'd, the wind propitious fill'd
The fwelling fails, the glitt'ring transports wav'd
'Their pennants gay, and halcyon's azure wing
With flight aufpicious fkimm'd the placid main.
On her lone couch in tears Elvira lay,
And chid th' officious wind, the tempting fea,
And wifh'd a torm as mercile fs, as tore
Her labouring bofom. Fondly now the ftrove
To banish paffion; now the vaffal days,
The captive moments that fo fmoothly pafs'd,
By many an art recall'd; now from her lute
With trembling fingers call'd the fav'rite founds
Which Henry deign'd to praife; and now effay'd
With mimick chains of filken fillets wove
To paint her captive ftate; if any fraud
Published as the Act directs, by Harrifon and Co Feb 1,1782.