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And damask cheek there dwelt a grace retired,
A prophecy of pensive womanhood.
And yet, in sooth, she was a happy child;
And, though the single treasure of her house,
She neither miss'd a brother's love, nor lack'd
The blest emotions of a sister's soul.
She thought no sister loved a brother more
Than she her brother Leonard-him who show'd
The strawberry lurking in the mossy shade,
The nest, in leafy thicket dark embower'd,
The squirrel's airy bound. No bliss he knew,
No toy had he—no pretty property-
No dog—no bird-no fit of childish wrath,
That was not hers. The wild and terrible tales
His garrulous old nurse o’ernight had told,
He duly in the morning told to her,
With comments manifold ; and when seven years
Made him a student of learn'd Lilly's page,
With simple, earnest, kindly vanity,
He fill’d her wondering ear with all his lore
Of tense, and conjugation, noun, and verb;
Searching the word-book for all pretty names,
All dainty, doating, dear diminutives
Which the old Romans used to woo withal.
So pass'd those happy seasons, when no law Of jealous custom, no suspected harm Bids fresh virginity beware of man; And, like two sexless bees, from flower to flower, They wander'd unreproved. But soon an age Of fearful wishes found the spotless pair, And Susan felt, unprompted, that the name
Of sister was not hers by right of kind.
Reserv'd she grew, and though she thought no ill,
She sigh’d in fear, and strove to frame her speech
To formal phrase of maiden courtesy.
Sore wonder'd Leonard at her mien constrain'd,
Her fitting blush, her intermitted words,
That seem'd unwelcome strangers to her lips,
And to her thought unknown. Why thus withdrawn
Her trembling hand, that wont in his to lie,
Still as the brooding warbler in her nest,
Close as the soft leaves of the rose unblown ?-
Why shrinks she from his kiss, his watchful gaze,
With such a faint and half-reproachful smile-
Nor longer may permit her flowing hair
To seek the pillow of his breast? Ah! why
Is he no more her brother ? But, ere long,
New passion budding in his vernal soul,
Fill’d him with joy to think no kindred tie,
No common blood forbade the current free
Of his warm wistful sighs.
The tale is old
Of “passionate first love” with all its dreams
Sleeping and waking—all its cherish'd pains,
Uneasy raptures, quarrels, fantasies,
Quaint wiles, and riddles read by lovers' eyes,
And bland deceptions meant not to deceive.
Though wooing well might seem a useless toil,
When Love, a goodly plant, in cradle sown,
Shot forth its leaves spontaneous to the warmth
Of genial youth, yet Leonard duly paid
The appointed duty of an amorous swain,
“ With adorations and with fertile tears,"
And “ loyal cantos of contemned love,"
As if in truth his Susan were a dame
Haughty and fierce, as Lady of Romance,
That must be woo'd with blows, and won with scars
And homicide. Sometimes a shepherd he,
And soft and silly as his fancied flock:
Anon an arm’d and errant Paladin,
He talk'd of forests dark, and deserts drear,
And foes defied, and giants huge o'erthrown,-
And all for Susan's sake. Young love is still,
Like Eastern sages, parabolical ;
And bliss, unearn'd, scarce knows itself to be,
But by the contrast of imagined woe.
What more of patient suit and coy delay,
Or passion paid, or maiden pride required,
I pause not to relate; nor how, at last,
The seemly ceremonial courtship done,
With interchange of braided locks and rings,
And holy kiss, they seald their plighted troth,
In their glad parents' sight. Unskill'd am I
Such scenes to paint—to me, alas ! unknown.
Unmeet historian of a golden time,
I cannot give the charm of life renew'd
To pleasures long forgot; for happy days,
Unvaried save by sun, or sunny shower,
Are bare of incident as dreamless sleep,
Or sweet existence of a flower unseen.
Suffice to say, that Leonard and his maid
Grew up to man's estate and womanhood.
Their pure affection, ripening with their years,
Like a bright angel's broad o'ershadowing wings,
Guarded their spirits, kept their inmost thoughts
All lovely, pure, and beautiful. Secure
In the assurance of an authorized pledge,
They, unrepining, brook'd their bliss deferr'd
By charge parental, till maturer years
Should fit them for the cares of wedded life.
Alas! too wisely spake the poet wise“ The course of true love never did run smooth,” How clear soe'er the stream. Though like estate, Congenial birth, affection tried and true, Taste, tempers, studies, finely harmonized By sympathy in dissimilitudeDivided excellence, that sought and found Its full perfection in the bond of love, Decreed the union of the happy pair, Whose mutual passion was obedience To those beloved parents, who had wish'd Their offspring blended in a common stock Ere either babe was born; yet eyeless Fate And human baseness wrought the righteous will Of fate-controlling Heaven. The lovely maid Was doom’d on earth to droop, a virgin flower, Unsoil'd of earth, to bloom in Paradise.
Accursed faction poisons e’en the fount Of household amity. A man there came Of dubious honour, and of race unknown, Deep laden with the plunder'd wealth of Ind; And he, forsooth, must shine a rising star In Britain's senate, make and unmake laws He learn'd but late to keep ; beat down prerogative,
“ And make bold power look pale”-a patriot he, Profound economist, the people's friend, And champion of reform. Now Leonard's sire Was one of ancient lineage, and estate For many generations handed down, Without an acre added or impair’d— He counted a long line of senators Among his ancestry, and ill could brook The lineal honours of his house usurp'd By the ill-gotten purse of yesterday. And now the day of license was at hand, Britain's septennial Saturnalia, When the soft palm of nice nobility, Ungloved, solicits the Herculean gripe Of hands with bestial slaughter newly stain'd; When ladies stoop their coroneted brows, And patriotic kisses deal to churls A gipsy would refuse; and, reeling ripe, Big Independence, reeking as he goes Through the rank toll-booth, works his burly way To hiccup perjury.-0 Mountain Nymph! -O Virgin Liberty! behold thy shrine, And send a snow-blast from thy native hills, Or thy fat offerings will all dissolve And choke the world with incense. Plutus now, And roaring Bacchus, are thy ministers, While swoln Corruption, like a toad, half-hid Beneath the purple trappings of the throne, Distends her bloated features with a laugh, To hear the many take thy name in vain.
Unequal strife had Leonard's sire to wage