« ZurückWeiter »
appears a Poet, in which he has displayed more imagination than in all his other works taken together. It should, however, be remembered, that he was not the First former and creator of those beautiful machines, the sylphs, on which his claim to imagination is chiefly founded. He found them existing ready to his hand; but has, indeed, employed them with singular judgment and artifice.
SECTION SECTION V.
OF THE ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN
The Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, which is next to be spoken of, as it came from the heart, is veryj£ndfj„ajid^patheticj_more so, I think, than any other copy of verses of our author. We are unacquainted with the whole of her history, and with that series of misfortunes which seems to have drawn on the melancholy catastrophe alluded to in the beginning of this Elegy. She is said to be the same person to whom the Duke of Buckingham has addressed some lines, viz. "To a Lady designing to retire into a Monastery." This design is also hinted at in Pope's Letters,* where he says, in a letter
R 3 addressed,
* Vol. vii. p. 193. Octavo Edition.
addressed, I presume, to this very person, "If you are resolved, in revenge, to rob the world of so much example as you may afford it, I believe your design will be vain: for even iu a monastery, your devotions cannot carry you so far towards, the next world, as to make this lose sight of you: but you will be like a star, that, Avhile it is fixed in heaven, shines over all the earth. Wheresoever Providence shall dispose of the most valuable thing I know, I shall ever follow you with my sincerest wishes; and my best thoughts will be perpetually waiting upon you, when you never hear of me or them. Your own guardian angels cannot be more constant, nor more silent."
This Elegt opens with a striking abruptness, yand a strong image; the poet fancies he beholds suddenly the phantom of his murdered friend:
What beck'ning ghost along the moonlight shade,
This This question alarms the reader, and puts one in mind of that lively and affecting image in the prophecy of Isaiah, so vigorously conceived, that it places the object full in one's eyes: "Who is this that cometh from Edom r with dyed garments from Bosra ?"* Akenside has begun one of his odes in the like manner;
O fly! 'tis dire Suspicion's mien;
The sorc'ress hither bends!
Of lovers and of friends!
The execrations on the cruelties of this lady's relations, which had driven her to this deplorable extremity, are very spirited and forcible; especially where the poet says emphatically,
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall.
He describes afterwards the desolation of this family, by the following lively circumstance and prosopopoeia:
R 4 There
* Chap, lxiii. ver. 1.
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
The incident of her dying in a country remote from her relations and acquaintance, is touched with great tenderness, and introduced with propriety, to aggravate and heighten her lamentable fate:
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear,*
Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier;
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
The force of the repetition of the significant epithet foreign, need not be pointed out to any reader of sensibility. The right of sepulture, of which she was deprived from the manner of her
* Something like that pathetic stroke in the Philoctetes of Sophocles, who, among other heavy circumstances of distress, is said not to have near him, any ntlgotpot o/^a. Ver. 171..— Not. to be translated.