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A RG v M E N T.
ABELARD and Eloisa flourished in the twelfth
Century; they were two of the most distinguished persons of their age in learning and beauty, but for nothing more famous than for their unfortunate paffion. After a long course of calamities, they retired each to a several Convent, and consecrated the remainder 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 misfortune, 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,
E L L 0 I
A B E
A R R D.
N these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heavenly pensive contemplation dwells, And ever-musing melancholy reigns; What means this tumult in a Vestal's veins? Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat? 5 Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat ? Yet, yet I love!_From Abelard it came, And Eloïsa yet must kiss the name.
Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd, Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'd :
10 Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise, Where, mix'd with God's, his lov'd idea lies : O write it not, my hand-the name appears . Already written-wash it out, my tears! In vain loft Eloïsa weeps
Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
grown, I have not yet forgot myself to stone.
All is not Heaven's while Abelard has part,
Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
30 Oh name for ever fad! for ever dear! Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear. I tremble too, where'er my own I find, Some dire misfortune follows close behind. Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
Then share thy pain, allow that fad relief; Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief. 50 Heaven first taught letters for some wretch's aid, Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid ; They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires, Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart, 55
Thou know'ít how guiltless first I met thy flame,
70 Dim and remote the joys of saints I see; Nor envy them that heaven I lose for thee.
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,
75 Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies. Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame, August her deed, and sacred be her fame; Before true passion all those views remove, Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love? 80 The jealous God, when we prophane his fires, Those restless passions in revenge inspires, And bids them make mistaken mortals groan, Who seek in love for aught but love alone.