[Page 350]


1 GIFTED of Heaven! who hast, in days gone by,
2 Moved every heart delighted every eye;
3 While age and youth, of high and low degree,
4 In sympathy were joined, beholding thee,
5 As in the Drama's ever changing scene,
6 Thou held'st thy splendid state, our tragic queen!
7 No barriers there thy fair domains confined,
8 Thy sovereign sway was o'er the human mind;
9 And, in the triumph of that witching hour,
10 Thy lofty bearing well became thy power.
11 The impassioned changes of thy beauteous face,
12 Thy stately form, and high imperial grace;
13 Thine arms impetuous tossed, thy robe's wide flow,
14 And the dark tempest gathered on thy brow;
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15 What time thy flashing eye and lip of scorn,
16 Down to the dust thy mimic foes have borne;
17 Remorseful musings, sunk to deep dejection,
18 The fixed and yearning looks of strong affection;
19 The active turmoil of a bosom rending,
20 When pity, love, and honour, are contending:
21 They who beheld all this, right well, I ween,
22 A lovely, grand, and wondrous sight have seen.
23 Thy varied accents, rapid, fitful, slow,
24 Loud rage, and fear's snatched whisper, quick and low;
25 The burst of stifled love, the wail of grief,
26 And tones of high command, full, solemn, brief;
27 The change of voice, and emphasis that threw
28 Light on obscurity, and brought to view
29 Distinctions nice, when grave or comic mood,
* Those who have been happy enough to hear Mrs. Siddons read will readily acknowledge that the discrimination and power with which she gave effect to the comic passages of Shakspeare, were nearly as remarkable and delightful as those which she displayed in passages of a grave or tragic character. It is to be regretted that only those who have heard her read, are aware of the extent or variety of her genius, which has on the stage been confined almost entirely to Tragedy; partly, I believe, from a kind of bigotry on the side of the public, which inclines it to confine poet, painter, or actor, to that department of their art in which they have first been acknowledged to excel, and partly from the cast of her features, and the majesty of her figure being peculiarly suited to Tragedy.
30 Or mingled humours, terse and new, elude
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31 Common perception, as earth's smallest things
32 To size and form, the vesting hoar-frost brings,
33 That seemed as if some secret voice, to clear
34 The ravelled meaning, whispered in thine ear,
35 And thou hadst even with him communion kept,
36 Who hath so long in Stratford's chancel slept;
37 Whose lines, where nature's brightest traces shine,
38 Alone were worthy deemed of powers like thine:
39 They who have heard all this, have proved full well
40 Of soul-exciting sound, the mightiest spell.
41 But though time's lengthened shadows o'er thee glide,
42 And pomp of regal state is cast aside,
43 Think not the glory of thy course is spent,
44 There's moonlight radiance to thy evening lent,
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45 That, to the mental world can never fade,
46 Till all who have seen thee, in the grave are laid.
47 Thy graceful form still moves in nightly dreams,
48 And what thou wert, to the lulled sleeper seems:
49 While feverish fancy oft doth fondly trace
50 Within her curtained couch thy wondrous face.
51 Yea; and to many a wight, bereft and lone,
52 In musing hours, though all to thee unknown,
53 Soothing his earthly course of good and ill,
54 With all thy potent charm, thou actest still.
55 And now in crowded room or rich saloon,
56 Thy stately presence recognized, how soon
57 On thee the glance of many an eye is cast,
58 In grateful memory of pleasures past!
59 Pleased to behold thee, with becoming grace,
60 Take, as befits thee well, an honoured place
61 (Where blest by many a heart, long mayest thou stand)
62 Among the virtuous matrons of our land.


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Title (in Source Edition): TO MRS. SIDDONS.
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Baillie, Joanna, 1762-1851. Fugitive Verses. By Joanna Baillie, author of “Dramas on the Passions,“ etc. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXL., 1840, pp. 350-353.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [40.17].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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