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Who pourM her sorrows on Horatia's bier,
But a mere sister, whom he lov'd—to take
Org. How nobly does this venerable wood, Gilt with the glories of the orient sun, Embosom yon fair mansion I The soft air Salutes me with most cool and temp'rate breath; And, as I tread the flow'r-besprinkled lawn, Sends up a gale of fragrance. I should guess. If e'er Content deign'd visit mortal clime, This was her place of dearest residence. Grant, Heav*n, I find it such! 'Tis now three
months, Since first earl Athelwold espous'd my daughter. He then besought me, for some little space, The nuptials might be secret: many reasons, He said, indue'd to this: I made no pause, But, resting on his prudence, to his will Gave absolute concurrence. Soon as married, He to this secret seat conveyM Elfrida; Convey'd her as by stealth, enjoy 'd, and left her: Yet not without I know not what excuse Of call to court, of Edgar's royal friendship, And England's welfare. To his prince he went: And since, as by intelligence I gather, He oft returns to this his cloister'd wife; But ever with a privacy most studied, Borrowing disguises till inventive art Can scarce supply him with variety. His visits, as they're stol'n, are also short; Seldom beyond the circuit of one sun; Then back to court, while she his absence mourns
Full many a lonely hour. I brook not this.
durst not! My former feats in arms must have inform'd
him, That Orgar, while he liv'd, would never prove A traitor to his honour. If he has— This aged arm is not so much unstrung By slack'ning years, but just revenge will brace it. And, by yon awful heav'n—But hold, my rage! I came to search into this matter coolly. Hence, to conceal the father and the earl, This pilgrim's statf, and scrip, and all these marks Of vagrant poverty.
Cho. [within.] Hail to thy living light, ambrosial morn! All hail thy roseat ray! Org. But hark, the sound of sweetest minstrelsy Breaks on mine car. The females, I suppose, Whom Athelwold has left my child's attendants; That, when she wails the absence of her lord, Their lenient airs, and sprightly-fancied songs, May steal away her woes. See, they approach: This grove shall shroud me till they cease their
strain; Then I'll address them with some feigned tale.
Cho. Hail to thy living light,
In varied beauty bright;
And dart around its vermeil dies;
Away, ye goblins all,
Beside some lonely wall,
Where at pale midnight's stillest hour, Through each rough chink the solemn orb of night Pours momentary gleams of trembling light.
Away, ye elves, away:
That living ray, whose pow'r benign
Where, thron'd in artless majesty, The cherub Beauty sits on nature s rustic shrine.—
Cho. Silence, my sisters.—Whence this rudeness, stranger, That thus has prompted thiue unbidden ear To listen to our strains?
Org. Youf pardon, virgins:
Cho. Thy mean garb,
Org. Virgins, know
Cho. May we ask
What cruel cause—
Ore. No! let this hapless breast
Cho. We know,
Org. Ah! ill would it become ye,
Org. Know, virgins, I was born To ample property of lands and flocks, On this side Tweeda's stream. My youth arid
vigour Atchicv'd full many a feat of martial prowess: Nor was my skill in chivalry unnoted In the fair volume of my sov'reign's love; Who ever held me in his best esteem, Anil closest to his person. When he paid, What all must pay, to fate; and short-liv'd
Have entrance at these gates.
Must greatly fear.
Cho. Yet whence the cause? Your earl Has ever yet (this little breach excepted) Been punctual to appointment. Did his eye Glow with less ardent passion when he left you, Than at the first blest meeting? No! I marked
him, His parting glance was that of fervent love, And constancy unalter'il. Do not fear him. Elf. I should not fear him, were his present stay The only cause. Alas, it is not so! Why comes my earl so secret to these arms! Why, but because he dreads the just reproach Of some deluded fair one i Why am I Here shrouded up, like the pale votarist, Who knows no visitant, save the lone owl, That nightly leaves his ivy-shrouded cell. And sails on slow wing through the cloister'd isles, Listening her saintly orisons! Why am I Deny'd to follow my departed lord Whene'er his duty calls him to the palace?
Cho. Covet not that; the noblest proof of love That Athelwold can give, is still to guard Your beauties from the blast of courtly gales. The crimson blush of virgin modesty, The delicate soft tints of innocence There all fly of£ and leave no boast behind, But well-rang'd, faded features. Ah, Elfrida, Should you be doom'd, which happier fate forbid! To drag your hours through ail that nauseous
scene Of pageantry and vice; your purer breast, True to its virtuous relish, soon would heave A fervent sigh for innocence and Harewood. Elf. You much mistake me, virgins; the throng'd palace Were undesired by me, did not that palace Detain my Athelwold. If he were here, His presence would convert this range of oaks To stately columns; these gay-liv'ried flowers To troops of gallant ladies: and yon deer, That jut their antlers forth in sportive fray, To armed knights at joust or tournament. If Athelwold dwelt here, if no ambition Could lure his steps from love, and this still forest; If I might never moan his time of absence, Longer than that which serv'd him for the chase, Or of ttf wolf, or stag; or when he bore The hood-wink'd falcon forth; might these, my
virgins, And these alone, be love's short intervals, I should not have one thought remote from Harewood. Cho. And would you wish that Athelwold should slight The weal of England, and on these light toys Waste his unvalued hours? No, fond Elfrida; His active soul is wing'd for nobler flights. Elf. What then, must England's welfare hold my earl For ever from these shades! Cho. We say not that.
The youth, who bathes in pleasure's tempting
stream At well-judg'd intervals, feels all his soul Nerv'd with recruited strength; but if too oft He swims in sportive mazes through the flood, It chills his languid virtue. For this cause Your earl forbids, that these enchanting groves, And their fair mistress should possess him wholly. He knows he has a country and a king, That claim his first attention; yet be sure, 'Twill not be long, ere his unbending mind Shall lose in sweet oblivion every care, Among th' embow'ring shades that veil Elfrida. Elf. O be that speech prophetic; may he soon Seek these embowering shades! Meanwhile, my
friends, Sooth me with harmony. I know full well That ye were nurs'd in Cornwall's wizard caves, And oft have pae'd the fairy-peopled voles Of Devon, where posterity retains Some vein of that old minstrelsy, which breath'd" Through each time-honour" d grove of British oak. There, where the spreading consecrated boughs Fed the sage rnisletoc, the holy druids Lay wrapt in moral musings; while the bards Call'd from their solemn harps such lofty airs, As drew down fancy from the realms oflight To paint some radiant vision on their minds, Of high mysterious import. But on me Such strains sublime were wasted: I but ask A sprightly song to speed the lazy flight Of these dull hours. And music sure can find A magic spell to make them skim their round, Swift as the swallow circles. Try its power: While I, from yonder hillock, watch his coming.
Cho. The turtle tells her plaintive tale,
Sweet bird! like thine our Jay shall flow