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THEAGENES TO SYLVIA.

The argument. Theagenes, son of Hieron, the priest of Pan, having fallen in

love, at an annual festival in the temple of that god, with Sylvia, a votress to Diana, finds means to seduce her. After some time, the nymph, being struck with horror at her guilt, in the utmost despair and contrition makes a vow that she would endeavour to expiate her offence by a life of religious solitude: apon which occasion Theagenes

writes the following epistle. N. B. Several hints in the following epistle were taken from

the celebrated Lord Gray's Love Letters.

SAY, dearest object of my broken heart,
Must we for e'er, like and soul body, part?
Must I be doom'd whole ages to deplore
And think of transports I must taste no more?
O dreadful thought! whose endless view contains
Grief following grief, and pains succeeding pains!
Each joy is blasted and each comfort fled!
Ye dreary sisters, cut the fatal thread!

Ah! whither fliest thou? to some dreary plain,
Where frozen Chastity and Horror reign;
And Melancholy, daughter of Despair,
With pale Contrition and with gloomy Care;
To spend thy youth in superstitious fears,
In needless penance, penitence, and tears!
Let those dwell there whose bosoms guilt reprove,
But thou hast none, if 'tis no sin to love.
For what is deem'd a half extorted vow
Too dull for lovers, and forgotten now?

Religious cheat! imposed by fear on man,
And priests continue what the fool began.

O stay, for absence never can destroy,
No distance quell my visionary joy;
In vain you still endeavour to remove
The beauteous cause of my unhappy love:
Imagination, following close behind,
Presents afresh past pleasures to my mind;
The rebel mind forbidden passion knows,
With welcome flames the guilty bosom glows,
Again the ecstatic soul dissolves away,
In brightest visions of eternal day;
There sees thy fatal form, or seems to see,
For heaven it loses when it loses thee.

Worn by my sorrows, see this wretched frame; Innocent object of thy fatal flame! See! round my lips a deadly paleness spread; Where roses bloom’d, the canker grief has fed; From my cold cheeks the withering lily flies, And light extinguish'd leaves my weeping eyes.

O count again the pleasures we have proved, Promoting mutual what the other loved; Recall in thought each amorous moment gone, Think each soft circumstance, and still think on; But chief that day destructive to my rest, For ever fatal, yet for ever bless'd, When I, assisting at the sacred shrine My aged father in the rites divine, Beheld thee first, celestial as thou art, And felt thy image sink into

my

heart; Ere I could think I found myself undone, For but to see thee and to love are one. No more the pomp and solemn splendour pleased, Devotion's flames within my bosom ceased;

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Thy fairer form expell’d the Deity,
And all the mighty space was fill’d with thee.

I fear'd 'twas error, and to Wisdom fed
To call her rigid doctrine to my aid:
But such the passion Wisdom must approve,
She saw the object, and she bade me love.

The pleasing paths of Venus I retrod,
No more a mortal, but an amorous god.
O powerful weakness of the ecstatic mind!
Celestial gleams to human failings join'd!
Love wafts our thoughts, when fancy spreads her

sails,
To lands of Paradise with gentle gales,
Love makes the sister soul for ever even;
Love can do all, for love itself is heaven.

The tedious business of the day was done;
Our offerings ended with the parting sun;
The night advanced, the shepherds homeward

sped To the sweet comforts of the nuptial bed; But me, alas! far other cares employ, To reap

the harvest of unlawful joy; Pensive I wanderd on the lonely shore, Where breaking billows at a distance roar; The sighs that issued from my labouring breast Woke Echo from her inmost cave of rest; On thee I thought, on thee I call'd alone, The soften’d rocks reecho'd to my moan, The sympathizing streams ran mournful by, And tuned their plaintive bubblings to my cry.

Thrice had the moon her silver mantle spread; As oft I wander'd from my sleepless bed, As oft I traversed o'er the neighbouring plain, As oft I sought thee, but I sought in vain;

At last arrived the long-expected hour,
I found thee musing in a lonely bower;
The time and place invited to impart
The faithful language of my lovesick heart;
With agonizing sighs I gain'd belief,
And each pathetic circumstance of grief;
A war unequal in thy breast ensued,
Stern duty fail'd and gentle pity woo’d,
Pity admitted, all disdain removed,
And soon what mercy spared the woman loved.
A crimson blush o'er all thy face was spread,
Then lilies pale, and all the roses fled;
Each look more faithful, to thy heart reveald
The fatal secret that thy tongue conceald.
The happy omen of success I view'd,
Embraced the’advantage, and the’attack pursued.
Honour's first guard of wakeful scruples o’er,
Love found a breach, and fears contend no more;
Each other's arms each other's body press’d,
We spoke much pleasure and we felt the rest;
The rest, which only can the faithful feel;
The rest, which none had ever power to tell;
The rest, which feels unutterably sweet,
In the first intercourse when lovers meet;
The modest diffidence and bold desires,
Soft thrilling cold and quick-returning fires,
The glowing blushes and the joyful tears,
The flattering wishes and the alarming fears,
The gentle breathings and the mutual sighs,
And all the silent eloquence of eyes.

Pleased with the first delight, my raptures rove
To seize at once the last recess of love;
Till, flying swiftly on from joy to joy,
I sunk at last in heavenly ecstasy.

The secret progress thus we first began, Then soon round pleasure's flowery circle ran; How oft we met, dull reason frown'd in vain, How oft we parted but to meet again! O blessed moments and divinest dreams! Enchanting transports and celestial gleams! Fly quick, my fancy, bring them back to view, In retrospection let me love anew; And once in thought enjoy the bliss again, E'en cheaply purchased by an age of pain.

O sacred queen of silent night, advance, And cast thy sable mantle o'er the expanse, Come, gentle Sleep, and close my wearied eyes, Give to my arms what hateful day denies; For vain, alas! those dulcet wishes roll, When sovereig

LON Reason awes the wakeful soul; Sleep sets it free to all its native fires, And gives a grateful loose to soft desires. At that calm hour, when Peace her requiem sings, And pleasing slumbers spread their airy wings; Thy beauteous image comes before my sight (My theme by day, my constant dream by night); Fancy not fairer paints those heaven-born maids, In fair Elysium under myrtle shades, Who ever blooming, ever young appear, To drive from happy shades intruding fear. My ravish'd thoughts on plumes angelic soar, And feel within a heaven or somewhat more. Straight on thy oft repeated name I call, Then wake and sigh and find it vanish'd all. Thus erst when Orpheus from the Stygian shore Had won his youthful bride by music's power, Impatient to behold her, ere he pass'd The pool Cocytus and the infernal waste,

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