“How perish’d is the joy that’s
The present how unsteady!
What comfort can be great and last,
When this is gone already;”
And close by it is another, written, perhaps, by some adventurous lover, who had stolen into the lady’s chamber during her absence:
“Theodosius to Camilla.
I’d rather in your favour live,
Than in a lasting name;
And much a greater rate would give
For happiness than fame.
When I look at these faint records of gallantry and tenderness; when I contemplate the fading portraits of these beautiful girls, and think, too, that they have long since bloomed, reigned, grown old, died, and passed away, and with them all their graces, their triumphs, their rivalries, their admirers; the whole empire of love and pleasure in which they ruled—“all dead, all buried, all forgotten,” I find a cloud of melancholy stealing over the present gayeties around me. I was gazing, in a musing mood, this very morning, at the portrait of the lady whose husband was killed abroad, when the fair Julia entered the gallery, leaning on the arm of the captain. The sun shone through the row of windows on her as she passed along, and she seemed to beam out each time into brightness, and relapse into shade, until the door at the bottom of the gallery closed after her. I felt a sadness of heart at the idea, that this was an emblem of her lot: a few more years of sunshine and shade, and all this life and loveliness, and enjoyment, will have ceased, and nothing be left to commemorate this beautiful being but one more perishable portrait; to awaken, perhaps, the trite speculations of some future loiterer, like myself, when I and my scribblings shall have lived through our brief existence, and been forgotten.
AN OLD SOLDIER
I’ve worn some leather out abroad;
let out a heathen soul or two; fed
this good sword with the black blood of pagan Christians; converted
a few infidels with it.—But let that pass.