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Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode ;
300 Enter, each mild, each amicable guest : Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!
See in her cell sad Eloisa 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
Ver. 298. low-thoughted care!) An epithet from Milton's Comus,
IVarton. Ver. 308. a hollow sound.] Though Virgil evidently gave the hint: (Hinc exaudiri voces et verba vocantis visa viri. 1. 4. p. 460.) yet this call of some sister, that had been involved in a similar distress, appears more solemn and interesting.
“ Once like thyself, I trembl’d, 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; 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 eye-balls roll, Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul ! Ah no—in sacred vestments may'st thou stand, 325 The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand, Present the Cross before my lifted eye, , Teach me at once, and learn of me to die. Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloisa 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 doat 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,
340 From op'ning skies my streaming glories shine, 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! 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, 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 !”
Ver. 339.] These circumstances are conformable to the notions of mystic devotion. The death of St. Jerome is finely and forcibly painted by Dominichino, with such attendant particulars.
Warton. Ver. 343. May one kind grave] This wish was fulfilled. The body of Abelard, who died twenty years before Eloisa, was sent to Eloisa, 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. Abel, et Heloiss. p. 238.) “ Eloisa 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,
From the full choir when loud Hosannas rise,
360 Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore, And image charms he must behold no more;
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 misfortune, 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.
I will just add, that many lines in this epistle are taken from various parts of Dryden, particularly the following:
“ A day for ever sad, for ever dear—"
“ I come without delay; I comeAnd 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,
Warton. No one that has a heart to feel, but must acknowledge the singular beauties of this finished composition. The inherent inde
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well;
licacy of the subject is one objection to it, and who but must lament its immoral effect; for of its beauty there can be but one sentiment.
It may be said of it with truth, in the language of its author :
“ 'It lives, it breathes, it speaks what love inspires,
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires !" and, as long as the English language remains, it will 6 Call down tears thro' every age.