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May view with envy; these, Iberian dames
Survey with fixt esteem and fond desire.
Hapless Elvira! thy disastrous fate
May well this truth explain ; nor ill adorn
The British lyre ; then chiefly, if the muse,
Nor vain nor partial, from the simple guise
Of ancient record catch the penfive lay;
And in less groveling accents give to fame.
ELVIRA ! loveliest maid ! th' Iberian realm
Could boast no purer breast, no sprightlier mind,
No race more splendent, and no form fo fair.
Such was the chance of war, this peerless maid
In life's luxuriant bloom, enrich'd the spoil
Of British victors, vict'ry's noblest pride!.
She, she alone, amid the wailful train,
Of captive maids, assign’d to Henry's care;
Lord of her life, her fortune, and her fame!
He, gen’rous youth, with no penurious hand,
The tedious moments that unjoyous roll
Where freedom's chearful radiance shines no more,
Effay'd to foften; conscious of the pang
That beauty feels, to waste its fleeting hours
In some dim fort, by foreign rule restrain'd,
Far from the haunts of men, or eye of day!
Sometimes, to cheat her bofom of its cares, Her kind protector number'd o'er the toils Himself had worn : the frowns of angry seas, Or hostile rage, or faithless friend, more fell Than storm or foe : if haply she might find
Her cares diminish'd ; fruitless fond essay!
Now to her lovely hand, with modest awe .
The tender lute he gave: fhe not averse
Nor destitute of skill, with willing hand
Calld forth angelic strains ; the sacred debt
Of gratitude, she said; whose just commands
Still might her hand with equal pride obey !
Nor to the melting sounds the nymph refus'd
Her vocal art; harmonious, as the strain
Of some imprison’d lark, who daily cheard
By guardian cares, repays them with a song :
Nor droops, nor deems sweet liberty resign’d.
The song, not artless, had she fram’d to paint
Disastrous pasion; how, by tyrant laws
Of idiot custom sway'd, some soft-ey'd fair
Lov'd only one ; nor dar'd their love reveal !
How the soft anguish banish'd from her cheek
The damask rose full-blown; a fever came ;
And from her bosom forc'd the plaintive tale.
Then, swift as light, he fought the love-lorn maid,
But vainly fought her; torn by swifter fate
To join the tenants of the myrtle shade,
Love's mournful victims on the plains below.
Sometimes, as fancy spoke the pleasing tasks
She taught her artful needle to display
The various pride of spring : then swift upsprung
Thickets of myrtle, eglantine, and rose :
There might you see, on gentle toils intent,
A train of busy loves; some pluck the flow'r,
Some twine the garland, some with grave grimace
Around a vacant warrior cast the wreath.
'Twas paint, 'twas life! and sure to piercing eyes
The warrior's face depictur'd Henry's mien.
Now had the gen'rous chief with joy perus’d The royal fcroll, which to their native home, Their ancient rights, uninjur'd, unredeemid, Restor'd the captives. Forth with rapid hafte To glad his fair Elvira's ear, he sprung; Fir'd by the bliss he panted to convey ; But fir'd in vain! Ah! what was his amaze, His fond distress, when o'er her pallid face Dejection reign'd, and from her lifeless hand Down dropt the myrtle's fair unfinish'd flow'r ! Speechless she stood; at length with accents faint, “ Well may my native ff ore, she said, refound “ Thy monarch's praise ; and ere ELVIRA prove “Of thine forgetful, Aow'rs shall cease to feel “ The fostring breeze, and nature change her laws."
And now the grateful edict wide alarm’d
The British hoft. Around the smiling youths
Calld to their native scenes, with willing haste
Their feet unmoor ; impatient of the love
That weds each bosom to its native soil.
The patriot passion! strong in ev'ry clime,
How justly theirs, who find no foreign sweets
To dissipate their loves, or match their own.
Not so Elvira! she, disastrous maid,
Was doubly captive ! pow'r nor chance cou'd loose
] The subtle bands ; she lov'd her gen'rous foe. She, where her Henry dwelt, her Henry (mild, Could term her native shore ; her native shore By him deserted, fome unfriendly strand, Strange, bleak, forlorn! a desert waste and wild.
The fleet careen'd, the wind propitious fillid
The swelling fails, the glitering transports wav'd
Their pennants gay, and halcyons azure wing
With fight aufpicious skim'd the placid main.
On her lone couch in tears Elvira lay,
And chid thr' officious wind, the tempting fea,
And wish'd a storm as merciless, as tore
Her lab’ring bosom. Fondly now she strove
To banish passion; now the vassal days,
The captive moments that so smoothly past,
By many an art recall’d; now from her lute
With trembling fingers call'd the fav'rite sounds
Which Henry deign’d to praise; and now essay'd
With mimic chains of filken fillets wove
To paint her captive state ; if any fraud
Might to her love the pleasing scenes prolong,
And with the dear idea feast the soul.
But now the chief rețurn'd; prepar'd to launch
On ocean's willing breast, and bid adieu
To his fair pris'ner. She, foon as she heard
His hated errand, now no more conceald
The raging flame; but with a spreading blush,
And rising sigh, the latent pang disclos’d.
“ Yes, gen’rous youth! I see thy bosom glow
With virtuous transport, that the task is thine
To solve my chains; and to my weeping friends,
And every longing relative, restore
A soft-ey'd maid, a mild offenceless prey !
But know, my soldier, never youthful mind,
Torn from the ļavish joys of wild expence
By him he loath'd, and in a dungeon bound
To languish out his bloom, could match the pains
This ill-star'd freedom gives my tortur'd mind.
What call I freedom ? is it that these limbs
From rigid bolts secure, may wander far
From him I love ? Alas, ere I may boast
That sacred blessing, some superior pow'r
To mortal kings, to sublunary thrones,
Must loose my passion, must unchain my soul.
Ev’n that I loath; all liberty I loath!
But most the joyless privilege to gaze
With cold indifference, where desert is love.
True, I was born an alien to those eyes
I ask alone to please; my fortune's crime!
And ah! this flatter'd form, by dress endear'd
To Spanish eyes, by dress may thine offend. .
Whilft I, ill-fated maid ! ordain'd to strive
With custom's load, beneath its weight expire.
Yet Henry's beauties knew in foreign garb
To vanquish me; his form, howe’er disguis’d,
To me were fatal ! no fantastic robe
That e'er caprice invented, custom wore,
Or folly finild on, cou'd eclipse thy sway.