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The dying gales that pant upon the trees, The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze; No more thefe fcenes my meditation aid, 935Or lull to reft the vifionary maid. 1 to reft
The effect an influence of MELANCHOLY, who is beautifully perfonified, on every object that occurs, and on every part of the convent, cannot be too much applauded, or too often read, as it is founded on nature and experience. That temper of mind cafts a gloom on all things.
But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves
The figurative expreffions, throws, and breathes, and browner horror, are, I verily believe, fome of the strongest and boldest in the English language. The IMAGE of the
Goddess MELANCHOLY fitting over the convent, and as it were expanding her dreadful wings over its whole circuit, and diffufing her gloom all around it, is truly fublime, and strongly conceived.
ELOISA proceeds to give an account of the oppofite fentiments, that divide and disturb her foul; these are hinted in the Letters alfo.
Ah wretch! believ'd the fpoufe of God in vain *,
This however is improved greatly on the ori ginal. "Caftam me prædicant, qui non deprehenderunt hypocritam."-" Quomodo etiam pænitentia peccatorum dicitur, quantacunque fit corporis afflictio, fi mens adhuc ipfam peccandi retinet voluntatem, & priftinis æftuat defideriist?" She then fondly calls on Abelard for affiftance,
O come! O teach me nature to fubdue §,
• V. 190.
+ Epift. p. 68.
+ Ibid. 66.
§ V. 206.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Fired with this idea of religion, fhe takes occafion to dwell on the happiness of a BLAMELESS veftal, one who has no fuch fin on her confcience, as fhe has, to bemoan. The life of fuch an one is described at length by fuch forts of pleasure, as none but a spotlefs nun can partake of; the climax of her happiness is finely conducted;
For her the SPOUSE prepares the bridal ring *,
What a judicious and poetical use hath POPE here made of the opinions of the mystics and quietifts: how would Fenelon have been delighted with these lines! True poetry, after all, cannot well fubfift, at least is never fo ftriking, without a tincture of enthusiasm. The fudden tranfition has a fine effect;
• V. 215.
Far other dreams my erring foul employ *,
Which raptures are painted with much fenfibility, and in very animating colours, "Nec etiam dormienti fuis illufionibus parcuntt.
O curft dear horrors of all-conscious night ||;
+ V. 123.
It is partly from Dido's dream.
This is very forcibly expreffed. She proceeds to recount a dream; in which I was always heavily disappointed, because the imagined distress is fuch, as might attend the dreams of any perfon whatever ‡.
-Methinks we wand'ring go §
Thro' dreary waftes, and weep each other's woe,
§ V. 242.
These are, indifputably, picturefque lines but what we want is a VISION of fome fuch. appropriated, and peculiar distress, as could be incident to none but Eloifa; and which fhould be drawn from, and have reference to, her fingle ftory. What diftinguishes Homer and Shakespear from all other poets, is, that they do not give their readers GENERAL ideas: every image is the particular and unalienable property of the perfon who uses it is fuited to no other; it is made for him
or her alone. Even Virgil himself is not free from this fault; but is frequently general and indiscriminating, where Homer is minutely circumftantial. She next compares his fituation with her own:
For thee the fates, feverely kind, ordain
No pulfe that riots, and no blood that glows f.
†The four fimilies that follow, drawn from religion, are admirable.