Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Argument. Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfılı certury; they were

two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each 10 a several convent, and consecrated the remainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this, separation, that a letter of Abelard's to a friend, which contained the history of his misfortune, fell into ile hands of Eloisa. This awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebra

*) Eine splendide Ausgabe dieser Epistel erschien 1803 unter dem Titel: Eloisa to Abelard, printed for Orell. Fussly and Comp., 26. und 51 s. in klein Folić. Der Herausgeber dieses Prachtabdrucks ist Herr Rochstein, Kaufinann in Erfurt, welcher auch Verfasser der, dem Englischen Original beigefügten, in ungebundener Rede abgefassten, Übersetzung ist. Letztere ise treu und fliessend. Diese Ausgabe ist übrigens mit vier, von Herrn Catel in Berlin gezeichneten, und ron Caroline Watson, Kupferstecherin der Königin von England, gostochenen meisterhaften Blättern geziert.

fed letters (out of which the following is parily extracted) which give so lively a picture of the struggle of grace and nature, virtue and passion. Pope.

In

these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever- musing 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 Eloisa yet must kiss the name.
Dear, fatal name! rest ever unrev

reveal'd,
Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'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.

ihe name appears
Already written wash it out, my tears!
In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays,
Her heart still dicjates, and her hand obeys.

Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains :-
Ye rugged rocks, which holy knees bave worn;
Ye grots and cavervs shage'd with Lorrid thorn!
Shrines ! ,where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
I'have not yet forgot myself to stone.
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 unelose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Olr, name for ever sad! for ever' dear!
Suill breath'd in sighs, 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 sad variety of woe:
Now warm in love, now with’ring in my

bloem, Lost in a couvent's solitary gloom !

There stern religion quench'd th' unwilling fame,
There dy'd the best of passions, love and fame.

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

'Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.
'Heav'n first tauglit letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banisb'd lover, or some captive maid;
They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires,
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her tears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the soft intercourse from soul io soul,
And waft a sigh from lodus to the pole.

Thou know'st 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 ih all - beauteous mind. Those smiling eyes, attempering ev'ry ray, Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day. Guiltless I gaz'd; heav'n listen'd while you sung; And truths divine came mended from that tongue *). From lips like those what precept fail'd to move? . Too soon they taught ine 'twas no sin to love: Back through the paths of pleasing sense I ran, Nor wish'd an angel whom I lov'd a man. Dim and remote the joys of saints I see; Nor envy them that heav'n I lose for thee.

How oft, when press'd to marriage, linve I said, Curse on all laws but those which love has made! Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, Spreads his light wings, and in a moinent Nies. Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dani,

[ocr errors]

*) Ho was her preceptor in philosophy and fri?

possest,

August her deed, and sacred be her fame;
Before true passion all those views remove;
Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to love?
The jealous God, when we profane his fires,
Those restless passions in revenge inspires,
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 scorn them all:
Not Cæsar's empress 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!
Oh, happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature law:
All then' is full,

possessing and
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 sure is bliss (if bliss on earth there be).
And once the lot of Abelard and me.

Alas, how chang'd! what sudden horror's rise!
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloise? her voice, lier hand,
Her poniard had oppos'd the dire command.
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by shamie, by rage suppress'd,
Let tears, and burning blushes speak the rest.

Caust thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When , warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil,
The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale:
Heav'n scarce believ'd the conquest it survey'd,
And Saints with wonder heard the vows I made.
Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,
Not on the cross my eyes were fix'd, but

you: Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call, And if I lose thy love, I lose my

all. Come! with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Those still at least are left thee to bestow.
Siill on that breast enamourd let me lie,
Still drink delicious poison from thy eye.
Pant on thy lip, and to 'thy heart be press'd;
Give all thou canst and let me dream the rest.
Ah, no! instruct me other joys to prize,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes,
Full in my slew set all the bright abode,
Apd make my soul quit Abelard for God.

Ah, think at least thy flock deserves thy care,
Plants of thy hand, and children of thiy pray’r.
From the false world in early youth they fled,
By ibee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led.
You rais'd these hallow'd walls *); the desert smil'd,
And paradise was open'd in the wild.
No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors;
No silver saints, by dying misers giv'n,
Here bribe the rage of ill - requited heav'n:
But such plain roofs as piety could raise,
And only vocal with the Maker's praise.
In these lone walls (their days eternal bound)
These moss

ss - grown domes with spiry turrets crown'd,
Where awful arches make a noon- -day night,
And the dim windows shed a solemn light;
Thy eyes diffus'd a reconciling ray,
And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day.
But now no face divine contentment wears,
"Tis all blank sadness, or continual fears.
See how the force of others pray'rs I try,
(O pious fraud of amorous charity!)
But why should I on others pray’rs depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend!
Ah, let thy handmaid, sister, daughter, inove.
And all those tender names in one, thy love!
The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks reclin'd
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
The wand'rivg streams that shine between the hills,
The grots that echo to the tinkling rills,

*) He founded the Monastery. Pope,

« PreviousContinue »