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ELOISA TO ABELARD.
ARGUMENT. Abelard and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth century: thty were two of the most distinguished perrons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate passion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a separate conveut, and cousecrated the re* mainder of their days to religion. It was many years after this separation that a letter of Abelard's to a friend, which contained the history of his mis. fortune, fell into the hands of Eloisa, This awakening all her tenderness, occasioned those celebrated letters (out of which the following is partly extracted), which give so lively a picture of the struggles of grace and nature, virtue and passion. P.
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name,
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise,
0 write it not, my hand—the name appears
In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays, 15
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains: Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn; Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn! 20 Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep, And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep! Though cold like you, unmov'd and silent grown,
1 have not yet forgot myself to stone.
All is not Heav'n's while Abelard has part, 2$
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor pray'rs nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
Oh name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Led through a sad variety of woe:
Yet write, O write me all, that I may join
Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Heav'n first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame, When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name; My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind, 61
Some emanation of th' all-beauteous Mind.
Guiltless I gay VI; Heav'n listen'd while You sung; 6£
Dim and remote the joys of saints I see;
How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said, Curse on all laws but those which Love has made! Love, free as air, at sight of human ties, IS
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
Alas, how chang'd! what sudden horrors rise!
Where, where was Eloi'se? her voice, her hand,
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
The shrines all trembled, and the lamps grew pale:
Not on the cross my eyes were fix' d, but you:
Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes;
Ah think at least thy flock deserves thy care,
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors;
In these lone walls (their day's eternal bound),
Where awful arches make a noon-day night;
And the dim windows shed a solemn light;
Thy eyes diffus'd a reconciling ray, 145
And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day.
But now no face divine contentment wears,
'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears.
See how the force of others' pray'rs I try,
(O pious fraud of amorous charity!) 150
But why should I on others' pray'rs depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend!
Ah let thy handmaid, sister, daughter, move,
And all those tender names in one, thy love!
The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks recliu'd 155
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
The wandering streams that shine between the hills,
The grots that echo to the tinkling rills,
The dying gales that pant upon the trees,
The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze; ICO
No more these scenes my meditation aid,
Or lull to rest the visionary maid:
But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves,
Long-sounding isles and intermingled graves,
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws 16$
A death-like silence, and a dread repose:
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
Shades every flow'r, and darkens every green,
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
And breathes a browner horror on the woods. 170
Yet here for ever, ever must I stay; Sad proof how well a lover can obey! Death, only death, can break the lasting chain; And here, ev'n then, shall my cold dust remain; Here all its frailties, all its flames resign, 175
And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.
Ah wretch! believ'd the spouse of God in vain,
Ev'n here, where frozen chastity retires,