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The lovely young Lavinia once had friends; And fortune smil'd, deceitful, on her birth. For, in her helpless years depriv'd of ail, Of every stay, save innocence and Heaven, She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old, And poor, liv'd in a cottage, far retir'd Among the windings of a woody vale; By solitude and deep surrounding shades, But more by bashful modesty, conceal'd. Together thus they fhunn'd the cruel scorn Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet From giddy passion and low-minded pride: Almost on nature's common bounty fed; Like the gay birds that fung them to repose, Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare. Her form was frestier than the morning rose, When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd and pure, As is the lily, or the mountain snow. The modest virtues mingled in her eyes, Still on the ground. dejected, darting all Their humid beams into the blooming flowers: ■ Or when the mournful tale her mother told, Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once, Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace Sat fair-proportion'd on her poliih'd limbs, ■ Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire, Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, But is when unadorn'd adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
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«« What pity! that so delicate a form, "By beauty kindled where enlivening sense "And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell, "Should be devoted to the rude embrace "Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks, . "Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind "Recalls that patron of my happy life, "From whom my liberal fortune took its rise; "Now to the dust gone down-; his houses, lands, "And once fair-spreading family, dissolv'd. "'Tis said that in some lone obscure retreat, "Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride, "Far from those scenes which knew their better
days, "His aged widow and his daughter live, "Whom vet my fruitless search could never find. "Romantic wiih! would this the daughter were!"
When, strict enquiring, from herself he found She was the fame, the daughter of his friend, Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak The mingled passions that surpriz'd his heart, And thro' his nerves in shivering transport ran? Then blaz'd his sinother'd flame, avow'd and bold; And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er, Love, gratitude, and pity wept at once. Confus'd and frightened at his sudden tears,. Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom, As thus Palemon, passionate, and just, Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.
"And art thou then Acasto's dear remains? "She, whom my restless gratitude has sought, "So long in vain? O heavens! the very fame, "The softened image of my noble friend, "Alive his every look, his every feature, "More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than spring I "Thou sole surviving blossom from the root "That nourisl\'d up my fortune! Say, ah where, "In what sequester'd desart, hast thou drawn *' The kindest aspect of delighted Heaven? "Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair! "Tho' poverty's cold wind, and crushing rain, "Beat keen, and heavy, on thy tender years 1 "O let me now, into a richer foil, "Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns,-and
mowers, "Diffuse their warmest, largest influence; "And of my garden be the pride, and joy! "111 it befits thee, oh it ill befits "Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores, "Tho' vast, were little to his ampler heart, "The father of a country, thus to pick "The very refuse of those harvest-fields, "Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. "Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand, "But ill apply'd to such a rugged taskj"The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine; "If to the various blessings which thy house "Has on me lavifh'd, thou wilt add tliat bliss, "That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee!"'
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Here ceas'd the youth: yet still his speaking eye Express'd the sacred triumph of his foul, With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love, Above the vulgar joy divinely rais'd. Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm Of goodness irresistible, and all In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent. The news immediate to her mother brought, While, pierc'd with anxious thought, sliepin'd away The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate; Amaz'd and scarce believing what she heard, Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam Of setting life shone on her evening-hours: , Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair; Who flourish'd long in tender bliss, and rear'd A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves, And good, the grace of all the country round.