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exhaustless,—and you first kindled in me, if not the power, yet the love of poetry, and beauty, and kindliness.
“ What words have I heard
Spoke at the Mermaid !”
The world has given you many a shrewd nip and gird since that time, but either my eyes an grown dimmer, or my old friend is the same who stood before me three-and-twenty years ago bis hair a little confessing the hand of Time, but still shrouding the same capacious brain,-his heart not altered, scarcely where it" alteration finds."
One piece, Coleridge, I have ventured to publish in its original form, though I have heard yon complain of a certain over-imitation of the antique in the style. If I could see any way of getting rid of the objection, without re-writing it entirely, I would make some sacrifices. But when I wrote John Woodvil, I never proposed to myself any distinct deviation from common English. I had been newly initiated in the writings of our elder dramatists : Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger, vere then a first love ; and from what I was so freshly conversant in, what wonder if my language imperceptibly took a tinge ? The very time which I had chosen for my story, that which immediately followed the Restoration, seemed to require, in an English play, that the English should be of rather an older cast than that of the precise year in which it happened to be written. I wish it had not some faults, which I can less vindicate than the language.
THE THREE FRIENDS.
THREE young maids in friendship met;
To her friend, was, by occasion
Fortune upon each one smiled, As upon a fav'rite child; Well to do and well to see Were the parents of all three; Till on Martha's father crosses Brought a flood of worldly losses, And his fortunes rich and great Changed at once to low estate; Under which o'erwhelming blow Martha's mother was laid low; She a hapless orphan left, Of maternal care bereft, Trouble following trouble fast, Lay in a sick bed at last.
Mary, who had quick suspicion Of her alter'd friend's condition, Seeing Martha's convalescence Less demanded now her presence, With a goodness, built on reason, Changed her measures with the season Turn'd her steps from Martha's door, Went where she was wanted more; All her care and thoughts were set Now to tend on Margaret. Mary living 'twixt the two, From her home could oft'ner go, Either of her friends to see, Than they could together be.
Truth explain'd is to suspicion Evermore the best physician. Soon her visits had the effect; All that Margaret did suspect, From her fancy vanish'd clean; She was soon what she had been, And the colour she did lack To her faded cheek came back. Wounds which love had made her feel, Love alone had power to heal.
In the depth of her affliction Martha now receiv'd conviction, That a true and faithful friend Can the surest comfort lend. Night and day, with friendship tried, Ever constant by her side Was her gentle Mary found, With a love that knew no bound; And the solace she imparted Saved her dying broken-hearted.
In this scene of earthly things Not one good unmixed springs. That which had to Martha proved A sweet consolation, moved Different feelings of regret In the mind of Margaret. She, whose love was not less dear, Nor affection less sincere
Martha, who the frequent visit Now had lost, and sore did miss it, With impatience waxed cross, Counted Margaret's gain her loss : All that Mary did confer On her friend, thought due to her. In her girlish bosom rise Little foolish jealousies, Which into such rancour wrought, She one day for Margaret sought; Finding her by chance alone, She began, with reasons shown, To insinuate a fear Whether Mary was sincere;
Wish'd that Margaret would take heed
Two long years did intervene Since they'd either of them seen, Or, by letter, any word Of their old companion heard, — When, upon a day once walking, Of indifferent matters talking, They a female figure met; Martha said to Margaret, “ That young maid in face does carry A resemblance strong of Mary." Margaret, at nearer sight, Own'd her observation right; But they did not far proceed Ere they knew 'twas she indeed. She--but, ah ! how changed they view her From that person which they knew her ! Her fine face disease had scarr'd, And its matchless beauty marrd :But enough was left to trace Mary's sweetness—Mary's grace. When her eye did first behold them, How they blush'd !-but, when she told them, How on a sick bed she lay Months, while they had kept away, And had no inquiries made If she were alive or dead; How, for want of a true friend, She was brought near to her end, And was like so to have died, With no friend at her bed-side ;How the constant irritation, Caused by fruitless expectation Of their coming, had extended The illness, when she might have mended, Then, O then, how did reflection Come on them with recollection ! All that she had done for them, How it did their fault condemn !
With such speeches, smoothly made, She found methods to persuade Margaret (who being sore From the doubts she'd felt before, Was prepared for mistrust) To believe her reasons just; Quite destroy'd that comfort glad, Which in Mary late she had ; Made her, in experience' spite, Think her friend a hypocrite, And resolve, with cruel scoff, To renounce and cast her off.
See how good turns are rewarded ! She of both is now discarded, Who to both had been so late Their support in low estate, All their comfort, and their stayNow of both is cast away. But the league her presence cherish'd, Losing its best prop, soon perish'd; She, that was a link to either, To keep them and it together, Being gone, the two (no wonder) That were left, soon fell asunder;Some civilities were kept, But the heart of friendship slept; Love with hollow forms was fed, But the life of love lay dead :A cold intercourse they held, After Mary was expell’d.
But sweet Mary, still the same, Kindly eased them of their shame; Spoke to them with accents bland, Took them friendly by the hand; Bound them both with promise fast, Not to speak of troubles past; Made them on the spot declare A new league of friendship there; Which, without a word of strife, Lasted thenceforth long as life. Martha now and Margaret Strove who most should pay the debt Which they owed her, nor did vary Ever after from their Mary,
Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my child. The place was such, that whoso enter'd in, hood.
Disrobèd was of every earthly thought, Earth seem'd a desert I was bound to traverse, And straight became as one that knew not sin, Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Or to the world's first innocence was brought;
Enseem'd it now, he stood on holy ground, Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother, In sweet and tender melancholy wrapt around. Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling? So might we talk of the old familiar faces A most strange calm stole o'er my soothèd sprite;
Long time I stood, and longer had I staid, How some they have died, and some they have When lo ! I saw, saw by the sweet moon-light,
Which came in silence o'er that silent shade, And some are taken from me; all are departed; 'Where, near the fountain, SOMETHING like DESPAIR All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
Made, of that weeping willow, garlands for her hair.