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The following was suggested by reading a whimsical description, given by Scarron, of the deformity of his person, contrasted with its former elegance, in the Curiosities of Literature, vol. 2, page 247.
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Ye blooming youth, possest of every grace,
Which can delight the eye, or please the ear,
Who boast a polish’d mind and faultless face,
Awhile the councils of Philemon hear!
Let not pride lift the thoughtless head too high,
Temerity arch o’er the scornful brow,
Contemptuous glances arm the sparkling eye,
Or the high heart with self-complacence glow!
Alas! full soon the eve of life arrives,
Though pale Disease’s train approach not nigh;
Short is the summer of the happiest lives,
If no rude storm disturbs the smiling sky.
This wretched body, bending to the earth,
Once, on the wings of health, alert and gay,
Shone forth the foremost in the train of mirth,
And cloudless skies announc’d a beauteous day.
My parents oft, with fond complacence view’d,
The elegance of my external form;
And thought my mind with excellence endued,
Bright as my genius, as my fancy warm.
There was a time, poor as I now appear,
I admiration met in every look;
And, harsh as now my words may grate your ear,
Each tongue was silent when Philemon spoke.
Once could this voice make every bosom thrill,
As it pour’d forth the light or plaintive lay;
And once these fingers, with superior skill,
Upon the lute could eloquently play.
By partial friendship sooth’d, by flattery fann’d,
I learnt with conscious grace the dance to lead,
To guide the Phaeton with careless hand,
And rule, with flowing rein, the prancing steed.
Sick with the glory of a trifler’s fame,
By folly nurtur’d, I was proud and vain;
Till Chastisement in kindest mercy came,
Though then her just decrees I dar’d arraign.
The form that sought so late the public view,
That glow’d with transport, as the world admir’d,
Fill’d with false shame, from every eye withdrew,
And to the shades of solitude retir’d.
Consum’d by fevers, spiritless, forlorn,
Blasted by apoplexy’s dreadful rage,
My bleeding heart by keen remembrance torn,
I past my prime in premature old age.
I heard my parent’s ill-suppressed sighs,
And wish’d myself upon the peaceful bier;
I saw the anguish of their sleepless eyes,
The smile dissembled, and the secret tear.
Oft, with a kind of gratifying woe,
I recollected every former charm,
And, with the spleen of a malicious foe,
Delighted still to keep my sorrows warm.
“Where is the lustre of the gladsome eye,
The airy smile, the animated mien,
The rounding lip of liveliest crimson dye,
So lately envied, now no longer seen.