Evening. An Elegy.
Written on reading the melancholy Separation of the Dauphin
from the Queen of France
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXIII (November 1793), pp. 1037-1038
The Sun receding with his scorching beams
Tinges the Western skies with streaks of gold,
The hinds now whistle homeward with their teams,
And shepherds penn with care the distant fold.
Lo! from the verge of yon retiring cloud,
Bright Cynthia pours her silver light along,
See, to yon grove the feather'd songsters croud,
And, for awhile, forget their tuneful song.
Now flies the timid bat across the glade.
The beetle slowly winds his drowsy horn,
The night-bird hoots from yonder distant plat,
The cricket chirps beneath the scatter'd corn.
Now glows the pure expanse a beauteous veil,
Glitt'ring with gems, to crown departing day,
The Southern breeze just whispers through the dale,
And Philomel bewails her mournful lay.
Hail hour serene! thy calmness suits my mind,
Attunes my soul ere while too deep imprest,
Nature's still voice, by Providence design'd
To sooth each sorrow, lull each eye to rest.
Each eye, Eliza!—Ah! thou little know'st,
How many sobs this moment rend the air,
How many signs, by various passions lost,
Rife from the gloomy gulph of black despair;—
And, soft! what ghastly shade attracts my sight!
Skims o'er the glade with looks of wild affright!
What wailing phantom shrieks with fix'd despair,
Glares wildly round, and frantic tears her hair!
Oh! my full heart; 'tis Gallia's hopeless Queen!
Distraction, grief, and horror, in her mien!
Shrinking impatient from commission'd slaves,
She spurns their wily plea, and loudly raves.—
"Traitors, avaunt!—ye can no more deceive,
"No more betray, or wretched I believe!
"Will ye my murder'd lord, my child, restore?
"Then may I perish ere I trust ye more;
"The rack, suspence, no more with hope can twine,
"For, certainty and fix'd despair are mine!
"Peace from this tortur'd bosom's ever flown,
"Hail, meagre mis'ry, I am all thine own!"
See on the earth, the last retreat of all,
Pierc'd with her woes, a Queen, a mother, fail,
No broider'd tap'stry o'er the floor is spread,
No purple canopy enfolds her head,
Those amber tresses twin'd with so much care,
Neglected now, and silver'd by despair,
Those eyes which open'd only to be bless'd,
That form which only to be seen—caress'd.
Ah! what avails her splendid house's pride,
To whom affianc'd—or to whom allied!
Bereft of every tie the heart holds dear,
No friend that durst disclose one pitying tear.
Hurl'd from her throne, from all the soul prefers,
Did ever Misery spread so wide as hers!
Her matchless woes each error will atone!
He, he, that's faultless, cast the wond'rous stone.
See the poor mourner wildly stare around,
Talk to the walls, and madly strike the ground!
Ye flinty hearts, hear her; her anguish tell,
"Here is my Court!—here I and Misery dwell:
"Supreme in woe as glory heretofore,
"This is my throne! let Kings bow down before."
See, wildly wand'ring in the viewless air,
The glaring eye with soul distressing stare,
The quiv'ring lip, short breath, and stretch'd-out arm
Starting convulsive at each dread alarm,
View in terrific forms before her eyes
A headless group of shrieking ghosts arise!
And see the last sad scene reacted o'er;
See the grim gaoler ope the ponderous door,
See him with sturdy stride unmov'd advance,
And of his Mother urge the Heir of France.
View the poor frighted victim round her fling
His little arms, and to her bosom cling.
"And dost thou think I'll ever freely give
"My child!—my all!—no never whilst I live;
"These arms shall shield him, we will never part,
"Thus will I clasp him to my bursting heart.
"Away! Away! ye need no more explain,
"Touch him not, monsters, lest ye fire my brain!—
"Hark!—the dread word! the dire command is given,
"Oh! spare him!—spare him!—mercy, mercy, heaven!—
"Hast thou no bowels?—not one pretty child,
"Dear as thy life that in thy face has smil'd?
"And dost thou grudge me,—me that gave him birth,
The veriest wretch that ever crawl'd on earth,
"Of all but this—this little good beguil'd!
"And canst thou part us!—Oh my child,—my child!—
"See, see, they seize him!—bear him from my view!
"Barbarians, stop!—O Gods!—one last adieu!
"He shrieks!—he struggles!—O! restore! restore!
"And by the Gods I'll never curse ye more.
"Leave—leave my little bird within his cage
"To sooth his mother's premature old age!
"Let me but see him, while I yet have breath,
"And I will bless you, though convuls'd with death.
"Oh I am sick!—sick!—sick!—and worn with grief;
"These trembling arms deny the wish'd relief,
"Oh earth!—earth!—earth!—I come! I come!—I come;
"And thus!—and thus, I dig my infant's tomb.
"But, soft!—'tis he!—my child escap'd the snare;
"Oh! all ye powers! he mounts!—he skims in air!
"Off! Off!—I'll meet him;—hark!—my cherub calls!
"He smiles!—he points!—down, down, ye ruthless walls!
"These hands shall do a deed to strike ye dumb!
"Shade of my angel Boy,—I come!—I come!"
August 6th, 1793.