Obrazy na stronie

Fair eyes, and tempting looks, (which yet I view !) Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu !

296 Oh Grace serene! oh Virtue heav'nly fair ! Divine oblivion of low-thoughted Care! Fresh-blooming Hope, gay daughter of the sky! And Faith, our early immortality !

300 Enter each mild, each amicable guest; Receive, and wrap me, in eternal rest !

See in her cell sad Eloïsa spread, Propt on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead. In each low wind methinks a spirit calls, 305 And more than echoes talk along the walls. Here as I watch'd the dying lamps around, From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound. “ Come, sister, come! (it said, or seem'd to say) Thy place is here, sad sister, come away;

310 Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd, Love's victim then, tho' now a sainted maid; But all is calm in this eternal sleep; Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep, Ev’n superstition loses every fear :

315 For God, not man, absolves our frailties here." I come, I come! prepare your roseate bow'rs, Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flow'rs.


Ver. 298. Low-thoughted Care !] An epithet from Milton's Comus.

Ver. 303. See in her cell] It certainly should be near, not in her cell. The doors of all cells open into the common cloister, where are often many tombs.

Ver. 308. a hollow sound.] Though Virgil evidently gave the hint : Hinc exaudiri voces et verba vocantis visa viri, l. 4. p. 460 ; yet this call of some sister, that had been involved in a similar distress, appears more solemn and interesting.

my lifted

Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow : 320
Thou, Abelard ! the last sad office pay,
And smooth my passage to the realms of day:
See my lips tremble, and my eyeballs roll,

my last breath, and catch my flying soul !
Ah no-in sacred vestments mayst thou stand, 325
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the Cross before

Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloïsa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me.

330 See from my cheek the transient roses fly! See the last sparkle languish in my eye! 'Till every motion, pulse, and breath, be o’er ; And ev'n my Abelard be lov'd no more. Oh Death, all-eloquent ! you only prove

335 What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.

Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy (That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy), In trance extatic may thy pangs be drown'd, Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round, From op'ning skies may streaming glories shine, 341 And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.

May one kind grave unite each hapless name, And graft my love immortal on thy fame!


Ver. 339.] These circumstances are conformable to the notions of mystic devotions. The death of St. Jerome is finely and forcibly painted by Dominichino, with such attendant particulars.

Ver. 343. May one kind grave] This wish was fulfilled. The body of Abelard, who died twenty years before Eloisa, was sent

Then ages hence, when all my woes are o'er. 345
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more :
If ever chance two wand'ring lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,


to Eloïsa, who interred it in the monastery of the Paraclete; and it was accompanied with a very extraordinary form of absolution, from the famous Peter de Clugny : “ Ego Petrus Cluniacensis abbas, qui Petrum Abelardum in monachum Cluniacensem recepi, et corpus ejus furtim delatum Heloissæ Abbatissæ et monialibus Paracleti concessi, auctoritate omnipotentis Dei, et omnium sanctorum, absolvo eum, pro officio, ab omnibus peccatis suis.” (Epist. Abæl. et Heloiss. p. 238.) “Eloïsa herself (says Vigneul Marville, Melanges, t. ii. p. 55) solicited for this absolution; and Peter de Clugny willingly granted it. On what it could be founded, I leave to our learned theologists to determine. In certain ages opinions have prevailed for which no solid reason can be given.” When Eloisa died in 1163, she was interred by the side of her beloved husband. I must not forget to mention, for the sake of those who are fond of modern miracles, that when she was put into the grave, Abelard stretched out his arms to receive her, and closely embraced her.

Madam de Rochefaucault, the late abbess of Paraclete, requested an inscription from the Parisian Academy of Belles Lettres in the year 1766 for the tomb of these celebrated lovers, which has been since put up by Madame de Roucy, her suc

cessor :

Sub eodem marmore jacent

Hujus Monasterii
Conditor Petrus Abelardus

Et Abbatissa prima Heloissa.
Olim studiis, amore, infaustis nuptiis,

Et penitentia;
Nunc æterna, ut speramus, felicitate conjuncti.
Petrus Abelardus ob. 21 Aprilis

Anno 1142.
Heloissa 17 Maiæ 1163.
Curis Carolæ de Rouci
Paracleti Abbatissæ

O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds; 350
Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov'd,
“Oh may we never love as these have lov'd !"
From the full choir when loud hosannas rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene if some relenting eye

355 Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie, Devotion's self shall steal a thought from heav'n, One human tear shall drop, and be forgiv'n.


Ver. 358. and be forgiv'n. With this line it appears, at first sight, that the poem should have ended; for the eight additional verses, concerning some poet that might arise to sing their misfortunes, are rather languid and flat, and might stand, it should seem, for the conclusion of almost any story, were we not informed, as I have credibly been, that they were added by the poet in allusion to his own case, and the state of his own mind. For what determined him in the choice of the subject of this epistle, was the retreat of that lady into a nunnery, whose death he had so pathetically lamented in the foregoing elegy.

Dr. Johnson's assertion does not seem to be true, that Eloïsa and Abelard found quiet and consolation in retirement and piety,

I will just add, that many lines in this epistle are taken from various parts of Dryden, particularly the following ones:

A day for ever sad, for ever dear-
Now warm in love, now withering in the grave-
And own no laws but those which love ordains -
And Paradise was open'd in his face-

a venerable grace-
She huggʻd th' offender, and forgave th' offence--

I come without delay; I come”-
And the two fine verses, 323 and 324, are certainly taken from
Oldham on the death of Adonis :

Kiss, while I watch thy swimming eye-balls roll,
Watch thy last gasp, and catch thy springing soul !

And sure if fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine,

Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well ;
Let him our sad, our tender story tell;

364 The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost; He best can paint 'em who shall feel 'em most.

« PoprzedniaDalej »