Who died on the 5th of June, 1797.
Awake, O Gratitude! nor let the tears
Of selfish Sorrow smother up thy voice,
When it should speak of a departed friend.
A tender friend, the first I ever lost!
For Destiny till now was merciful,
And though I oft have felt a transient pang,
For worth unknown, and wept awhile for those,
Whom long acquaintance only made me love,
No keen regret laid pining at my heart,
Nor Memory in the solitary hour,
Would sting with grief, as when she speaks
Thy virtue, knowledge, wisdom, gentleness,
Thy venerable age, and says that I
Had once the happiness to call thee friend.
Yes! I once bore that title, and my heart
Thought nobler of itself, that one so good,
So honor’d, so rever’d, should give it me.
O Isola! when that glad season comes,
Which brought redemption to a ruin’d world,
And, like thee, hides beneath the snow of age,
A gay, benevolent, and feeling heart,
I hop’d again to hear thy tongue repeat,
With youthful warmth and zealous energy,
Those passages, where Poetry assumes
An air divine, and wakes th’ attentive soul
To holy rapture! Then you promis’d me
The luxury to weep o’er Dante’s muse,
And fair Italia’s loftier poets hail.
I have often heard
That years would blunt the feelings of the soul,
And apathy ice the once-glowing heart.
Injurious prejudice! Dear, guileless friend!
Thou read’st mankind, but saw not, or forgot
Their faults and vices; for thy breast was still
The residence of sweet Simplicity,
Daughter of letter’d Wisdom, and the friend
Of Love and Pity. Happy soul, farewell!
Long shall we mourn thee! longer will it be,
“Ere we shall look upon thy like again!”
* * * * *
This humble tribute to the memory of my venerated friend, was written in the first impulse of my sorrow for his loss, and though unworthy of his virtues, is still a small memorial of my respect for a man, on whose tomb might justly be inscribed, as I have seen on an old monument:
“Heven hath his soule.
He fruits of Pietie,
This Towne his want.
Our hearts his Memorie.”
Ye holy women, say! will ye accept
The passing tribute of a humble friend?
Stranger indeed to you and to your faith,
But O! I hope not stranger to the zeal,
Which warm’d your bosoms in Religion’s cause.
When impious men commanded you to break
The vow which bound your souls, and which in youth
Warm Piety’s emphatic lips had made.
Say! will ye suffer me on that rude tomb,
Where she reposes (whose benignant smile,
Whose animated, life-inspiring eye,
And faded form, majestic, still appears
In Thought’s delusive hour) to shed a tear?
On her, whose sainted look, though seen but once,