Imagens das páginas
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"Pardon (said Silvio with a gushing tear),

"'Tis spring, sweet nymph, but Laura is not here.”

In sending these verses to Mrs. Sheridan, he had also written her a description of some splendid party, at which he had lately been present, where all the finest women of the world of fashion were assembled. His praises of their beauty, as well as his account of their flattering attentions to himself, awakened a feeling of at least poetical jealousy in Mrs. Sheridan, which she expressed in the following answer to his verses -taking occasion, at the same time, to pay some generous compliments to the most brilliant among his new fashionable friends. Though her verses are of that kind which we read more with interest than admiration, they have quite enough of talent for the gentle themes to which she aspired; and there is, besides, a charm about them, as coming from Mrs. Sheridan, to which far better poetry could not pretend.

To Silvio.

"Soft flow'd the lay by Avon's sedgy side,

While o'er its streams the drooping willow hung,
Beneath whose shadow Silvio fondly tried

To check the opening roses as they sprung.

In vain he bade them cease to court the gale,
That wanton'd balmy on the zephyr's wing;
In vain, when Philomel renew'd her tale,

He chid her song, and said " It was not Spring."

For still they bloom'd, tho' Silvio's heart was sad,
Nor did sweet Philomel neglect to sing;
The zephyrs scorned them not, tho' Silvio had,
For love and nature told them it was Spring.*

To other scenes doth Silvio now repair,

To nobler themes his daring Muse aspires;
Around him throng the gay, the young, the fair,
His lively wit the listening crowd admires.

And see, where radiant Beauty smiling stands,
With gentle voice and soft beseeching eyes,
To gain the laurel from his willing hands,
Her every art the fond enchantress tries.

What various charms the admiring youth surround,
How shall he sing, or how attempt to praise ?
So lovely all-where shall the bard be found,
Who can to one alone attune his lays?

Behold with graceful step and smile sevene,
Majestic Stellat moves to claim the prize,

""Tis thine," he cries, "for thou art beauty's queen."
Mistaken youth! and sees't thou Myra's‡ eyes?

With beaming lustre see they dart at thee;

Ah! dread their vengeance-yet withhold thy hand,-
That deep'ning blush upbraids thy rash decree;

Hers is the wreath-obey the just demand.

* As the poem altogether would be too long, I have here omitted five or

six stanzas.

According to the Key which has been given me, the name of Stella was meant to designate the Duchess of Rutland.

The Duchess of Devonshire.

"Pardon, bright nymph," (the wond'ring Silvio cries)
"And oh, receive the wreath thy beauty's due"-
His voice awards what still his hand denies,

For beauteous Amoret* now his eyes pursue.

With gentle step and hesitating grace,

Unconscious of her pow'r the fair one came;
If, while he view'd the glories of that face,
Poor Silvio doubted,-who shall dare to blame?

A rosy blush his ardent gaze reprov'd,

The offer'd wreath she modestly declined;-
"If sprightly wit and dimpled smiles are lov'd,
"My brow," said Flavia,† "shall that garland bind."

With wanton gaiety the prize she seized-
Silvio in vain her snowy hand repell'd;
The fickle youth unwillingly was pleas'd,
Reluctantly the wreath he yet withheld.

But Jessie's all seducing form appears,
Nor more the playful Flavia could delight;
Lovely in smiles, more lovely still in tears,
Her every glance shone eloquently bright.

Those radiant eyes in safety none could view,
Did not those fringed lids their brightness shade-
Mistaken youths! their beams, too late ye knew,
Are by that soft defence more fatal made.

"O God of Love!" with transport Silvio cries,
"Assist me thou, this contest to decide;
"And since to one I cannot yield the prize,
"Permit thy slave the garland to divide.

On Myra's breast the opening rose shall blow, "Reflecting from her cheek a livelier bloom; "For Stella shall the bright carnation glow"Beneath her eyes' bright radiance meet its doom.

"Smart pinks and daffodils shall Flavia grace,
"The modest eglantine and violet blue
"On gentle Amoret's placid brow I'll place—
"Of elegance and love an emblem true."

* Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Crewe.

Lady Craven, afterwards Margravine of Anspach.
The late Countess of Jersey.

In gardens oft a beauteous flow'r there grows,
By vulgar eyes unnotic'd and unseen;
In sweet security it humbly blows,

And rears its purple head to deck the green.

This flower, as nature's poet sweetly sings,

Was once milk-white, and heart's-ease was its name, Till wanton Cupid pois'd his roseate wings,

A vestal's sacred bosom to inflame.

With treacherous aim the god his arrow drew,
Which she with icy coldness did repel;
Rebounding thence with feathery speed it flew,
Till on this lonely flow'r at last it fell.

Heart's-ease no more the wandering shepherds found,
No more the nymphs its snowy form possess,
Its white now chang'd to purple by Love's wound,
Heart's-ease no more, 'tis "Love in Idleness."

"This flow'r with sweet-brier join'd, shall thee adorn, "Sweet Jessie, fairest 'mid ten thousand fair!

"But guard thy gentle bosom from the thorn,

"Which, tho' conceal'd, the sweet-brier still must bear.

"And place not Love, tho' idle, in thy breast,

"Tho' bright its hues, it boasts no other charm--

"So may thy future days be ever blest,

"And friendship's calmer joys thy bosom warm!"

But where does Laura pass her lonely hours?

Does she still haunt the grot and willow-tree? Shall Silvio from his wreath of various flow'rs Neglect to cull one simple sweet for thee?

"Ah Laura, no," the constant Silvio cries,

[ocr errors]

"For thee a never-fading wreath I'll twine,

'Though bright the rose, its bloom too swiftly flies,

"No emblem meet for love so true as mine.

"For thee, my love, the myrtle, ever-green,
"Shall every year its blossom sweet disclose,

"Which, when our spring of youth no more is seen,
"Shall still appear more lovely than the rose."

"Forgive, dear youth," the happy Laura said,
"Forgive each doubt, each fondly anxious fear,
"Which from my heart for ever now is fled—
"Thy love and truth, thus tried, are doubly dear

"With pain I mark'd the various passions rise,
"When beauty so divine before thee mov'd;
"With trembling doubt beheld thy wandering eyes,
"For still I fear'd;-alas! because I lov'd.

"Each anxious doubt shall Laura now forego,
"No more regret those joys so lately known,
"Conscious, that tho' thy breast to all may glow,
"Thy faithful heart shall beat for her alone.

"Then, Silvio, seize again thy tuneful lyre,


"Nor yet sweet Beauty's power forbear to praise;

Again let charms divine thy strains inspire,

"And Laura's voice shall aid the poet's lays."




MR. SHERIDAN was now approaching the summit of his dramatic fame ;-he had already produced the best opera the language, and there now remained for him the glory of writing also the best comedy. As this species of composition seems, more, perhaps, than any other, to require, that knowledge of human nature and the world which experience alone can give, it seems not a little extraordinary that nearly all our first-rate comedies should have been the productions of very young men. Those of Congreve were all written before he was five-and-twenty. Farquhar produced the Constant Couple in his two-and-twentieth year, and died at thirty. Vanbrugh was a young ensign when he sketched out the Relapse and the Provoked Wife, and Sheridan crowned his reputation with the School for Scandal at six-and-twenty.

It is, perhaps, still more remarkable to find, as in the instance before us, that works which, at this period of life, we might suppose to have been the rapid offspring of a careless, but vigorous fancy,-anticipating the results of experience by

« AnteriorContinuar »