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Osmond and Matilda,

A Tale.

1 WHERE Avon rolls his winding flood,
2 Where Clifton's summits rise,
3 Whose rich expanse of lawn and wood
4 Delights our wondering eyes,
5 Earl Raymond's castle once arose,
6 The glory of the plain
7 Raymond, the terror of his foes,
8 Of countless conquests vain.
9 There young Matilda's beauty bloom'd
10 Unenvied, unadmir'd,
11 Who ne'er the pride of courts assum'd,
12 Or life of courts desir'd.
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13 Her brother in these peaceful bowers
14 Had left the lovely maid,
15 To pass her solitary hours,
16 While he far distant stray'd
17 Where Superstition's stern command
18 Call'd all her sons to arms,
19 And bore to Judah's distant land
20 Destruction and alarms
21 Where pure Religion's injur'd name
22 Induc'd each hostile lord,
23 In her defence, to seek for fame,
24 And wield the vengeful sword.
25 While Raymond hop'd, by blood and war,
26 To gain eternal bliss,
27 Matilda, from dissensions far,
28 Made sure of happiness,
29 By gentlest manners, purest truth,
30 By piety refin'd;
31 For priestcraft ne'er misled her youth,
32 Or sway'd her juster mind.
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33 She knew a dying Saviour bought
34 Redemption by his blood:
35 The hope which Mercy gave, she sought
36 By mercy to make good.
37 For she could injuries forgive,
38 Could weep for fallen foes:
39 Whate'er his faith, she could receive
40 The stranger to repose.
41 'Mid Clifton's vales, her spotless life
42 To contemplation given,
43 Secure from public noise and strife,
44 Her thoughts were fix'd on Heaven.
45 Matilda, shall a breast like thine
46 Feel Love's pernicious sway?
47 Canst thou that holy calm resign,
48 Through Passion's wilds to stray?
49 Celestial Powers, unite to save
50 Perfection like your own!
51 O let not Love that heart enslave,
52 Where Reason fix'd her throne!
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53 Ah, fruitless prayer! No pitying power
54 Averts Matilda's woes:
55 They rather urge the fateful hour,
56 That robs her of repose!
57 As near an ancient forest's bounds
58 Matilda chanc'd to stray,
59 The sprightly noise of horns and hounds
60 Salutes the rising day.
61 The virgin sees a glittering train
62 With shouts attend the chase:
63 So light their horses scour the plain,
64 She scarce their steps can trace.
65 One she beholds excel the rest
66 In form and manly grace,
67 Whose noble air, not splendid vest,
68 Mark'd his distinguish'd race.
69 While with delight Matilda view'd
70 The stranger as he pass'd,
71 While her pleas'd eyes his form pursu'd,
72 And fear'd each look the last,
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73 She sees his horse no longer own
74 Obedience to the rein:
75 She sees the youthful hunter thrown
76 Extended on the plain!
77 Though Prudence with contracted mind
78 Advis'd her to retreat,
79 With Admiration Pity join'd,
80 Urg'd on her rapid feet
81 To where the lately festive crowd
82 In tears surround their lord,
83 And beat their breasts, and cry aloud,
84 While none relief afford.
85 Matilda with compassion view'd
86 The stranger as he lay:
87 Softer sensations soon ensu'd,
88 And made her breast their prey.
89 For Pity's unsuspected charm
90 Has oft seduc'd a heart,
91 Where brightest beauty could not warm,
92 Nor wisdom love impart.
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93 "Can Sorrow's ineffectual tear,"
94 She cried, "to life restore?
95 " While yet his spirit lingers here,
96 "Celestial aid implore.
97 "Nor yet supinely wait, that Heaven
98 " A miracle may grant;
99 "For seldom aid divine is given
100 " When human effort's faint.
101 "Imbosom'd in yon tow'ring wood
102 " An ancient castle stands:
103 "Earl Raymond there, the brave, the good,
104 " Possess'd these happy lands.
105 "But since from Britain's shore he's gone,
106 " Through Asia's realms to stray,
107 "These smiling lands I rule alone,
108 " And all my power obey.
109 "There men your dying master lead
110 " With care along the plain;
111 "For never did Misfortune plead
112 " At Raymond's gate in vain. "
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113 The tear of gratitude sincere
114 From every eye-lid falls:
115 Their lord his sad attendants bear
116 Within the castle's walls.
117 There soon Matilda's tender care
118 His banish'd sense restor'd:
119 But who to thee, incautious fair,
120 Shall now relief afford?
121 For treacherous Passion every day
122 Still deeper sunk the dart;
123 And, while she thought 'twas Pity's sway,
124 Love reign'd o'er all her heart.
125 At length the fatal truth was known;
126 The stranger own'd his flame:
127 How great her joy! How quickly flown,
128 At hearing Osmond's name!
129 From her pale cheeks the roses fled,
130 Tears trembled in her eye;
131 Pensive she hung her beauteous head,
132 While sigh succeeded sigh.
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133 "Osmond," she cried, "this love withstand;
134 " To other maids incline:
135 "Nor fondly hope Matilda's hand
136 " Shall e'er be join'd with thine.
137 "Between our race the deadly strife,
138 " O Osmond! need I tell
139 "How by thy sire, in prime of life,
140 " My hapless father fell?
141 "And can I swear eternal love
142 " Where Raymond vows revenge?
143 "I might but Raymond ne'er can prove,
144 " In love or hate, a change.
145 "Then cease to feed a fruitless flame
146 " My heart must ne'er return;
147 "Nor of that heart the coldness blame
148 " For thine 'twill ever mourn. "
149 "O fatal accents," Osmond cries,
150 "That blast my promis'd joys!
151 " Say not, Matilda, that you prize
152 "The heart your scorn destroys.
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153 "Yet, if nor Pity's voice, nor Love,
154 " Can change my stern decree,
155 "Still Piety, perhaps, may move
156 " That breast to feel for me.
157 "We're taught how much by Power divine
158 " We need to be forgiven;
159 "That, if to pardon we decline,
160 " We lose our promis'd heaven.
161 "Cold lies my father's honour'd clay:
162 " With life resentment's fled:
163 "Shall then Matilda's breast betray
164 " Fix'd hatred for the dead?
165 "His closing eyes wept Seward's fate:
166 " Be then thy pardon won;
167 "Nor in the crime he mourn'd too late
168 " Involve his guiltless son. "
169 When Passion courts the youthful ear,
170 How weak is Reason's voice!
171 Delusion to the heart how dear,
172 When it confirms its choice!
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173 Matilda's passion was so strong,
174 She wish'd to be deceiv'd;
175 And every word from Osmond's tongue
176 Was instantly believ'd.
177 But still she hid her fatal flame,
178 Still urg'd a father's death;
179 When the sad news to Osmond came,
180 That Edith's parting breath
181 In dying accents call'd her son
182 Her blessing to receive
183 And said, his presence could alone
184 Take terror from the grave.
185 His feeling heart in Edith's pain
186 Entirely lost its own;
187 Her sufferings rack each filial vein,
188 And all the lover's flown.
189 He press'd Matilda's trembling hands,
190 And scarcely bid adieu:
191 Speechless and pale Matilda stands,
192 Till he's no more in view.
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193 Then wild through Clifton's tufted groves
194 She calls on Osmond's name;
195 Sighs to the gale their hapless loves
196 Those sighs but fan the flame.
197 "No more," she cries, "shall I behold
198 " His eyes serenely gay!
199 "No more his hand my hand shall hold,
200 " As through these vales I stray!
201 "Osmond, return, my mind from pride
202 " And prejudice is free:
203 "Though by thy father Seward died,
204 " Matilda lives for thee.
205 "In pity come, my peace restore,
206 " For thee alone I prize:
207 "Fruitless entreaties! never more
208 " Shall Osmond bless these eyes! "
209 Twelve times had Cynthia's silver beam
210 Illumin'd Clifton's height;
211 Twelve times had shed on Avon's stream
212 Its inoffensive light:
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213 Still victim of a hopeless fire,
214 Matilda pin'd away;
215 The roses from her cheeks retire,
216 Her health, her charms decay.
217 Her heavy eyes, with fruitless care,
218 Still turn'd towards the place,
219 Where, fill'd with anguish and despair,
220 She last saw Osmond's face.
221 At length, upon the opening plain,
222 Advancing from afar,
223 She sees a weary, pallid train,
224 Sad relics of the war.
225 High o'er the rest, his towering form,
226 His firm intrepid air,
227 That seem'd to brave Misfortune's storm,
228 Announc'd her brother near.
229 Through dark affliction's chilling cloud
230 A ray of pleasure warms:
231 "Raymond's return'd!" she cries aloud,
232 And hastes into his arms.
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233 "Say, dearest brother, only friend!
234 " Shall Glory's voice no more
235 "Call thee in wars thy youth to spend,
236 " Far from thy native shore?
237 "Ah! trust not Glory's dangerous charms,
238 " Who smiles but to betray;
239 "But, free from tumults and alarms,
240 " Enjoy life's fleeting day. "
241 "Belov'd Matilda, never more
242 " I'll tempt th' inconstant wave;
243 "No longer quit my native shore,
244 " Or dearer sister leave.
245 "For her shall Friendship's milder joys
246 " Exert their winning power,
247 "Whilst Hymen's more endearing ties
248 " Shall gild her latest hour. "
249 "No, Raymond, never shall my tongue
250 " Pronounce the solemn vow;
251 "Nor e'er, the sacred rites among,
252 " At Hymen's shrine I'll bow.
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253 "From worldly joy, from worldly care,
254 " Still may my mind be free!
255 "Still every hour, that Heaven can spare,
256 " May I devote to thee! "
257 "A virtuous passion's spotless flame
258 " Heaven ne'er can disapprove:
259 "Your hand I've promis'd, and I claim
260 " As token of your love.
261 "When near Britannia's rocky shore
262 " Wild rag'd the bursting storm,
263 "Loud o'er the deck the billows roar,
264 " While clouds the skies deform.
265 "In vain the pilot's trembling hand
266 " Attempts the stern to guide,
267 "To turn us from the dangerous land,
268 " And tempt once more the tide.
269 "The winds blew high, the surges swell'd,
270 " Our masts, our cordage lost;
271 "The shatter'd ship's at length impell'd
272 " On Devon's hilly coast.
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273 "Scarce twenty of my faithful train
274 " Escape the dangerous wave;
275 "The rest tir'd, struggling on the main,
276 " Find there a watery grave.
277 "With pain we climb the steepy height,
278 " And reach a level mead,
279 "When o'er the earth the dewy night
280 " Had cast her sable shade.
281 "Beneath a lime-tree's sheltering arms
282 " Our weary limbs we lay;
283 "And hop'd secure from all alarms,
284 " To wait the approach of day.
285 "But vain our hopes; for, when calm rest
286 " Had seal'd each heavy eye,
287 "And lull'd to peace each anxious breast,
288 " A cruel band drew nigh.
289 "They seiz'd our arms, they bound our hands,
290 " Whilst fearless all repos'd;
291 "And soon in everlasting bands
292 " Of sleep our eyes had clos'd,
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293 "Had not, by Mercy's high decree,
294 " A stranger pass'd that way,
295 "Endu'd with force to set us free,
296 " And all our foes to slay.
297 "My stubborn soul, which ne'er to power
298 " Or sordid riches bow'd,
299 "With humblest gratitude that hour
300 " Its lavish thanks bestow'd.
301 "Those thanks repeated o'er and o'er,
302 " My lineage I declar'd,
303 "And ask'd if Raymond's boundless store
304 " Such service could reward.
305 "A crimson blush at Raymond's name
306 " The stranger's cheeks o'erspread,
307 "And from his agitated frame
308 " Its wonted vigour fled.
309 "Raymond," he cried, with faltering voice,
310 "Thy riches I resign:
311 " If in vain wealth I could rejoice,
312 "Unnumber'd wealth is mine.
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313 "But all the wealth the sordid prize,
314 " Or power the vain desire,
315 "My towering wishes can despise,
316 " And higher far aspire.
317 "If to my pure, unsullied flame
318 " You would Matilda grant,
319 "No other riches shall I claim,
320 " No greater treasure want. "
321 "Pleas'd with the ardent, generous love,
322 " Which, scorning meaner views,
323 "Matilda only could approve,
324 " Matilda only choose
325 "I promis'd, cre to-morrow's sun
326 " Shall gild the evening tide,
327 "Thou shouldst, by my entreaties won,
328 " Consent to be his bride.
329 "And cold indeed must be thy heart,
330 " And blind must be thine eye,
331 "Whene'er he shall his suit impart,
332 " Couldst thou that suit deny.
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333 "Then drive, Matilda, from thy brow
334 " Each vestige of despair;
335 "A brother's wish, a lover's vow,
336 " To crown at once prepare. "
337 To Raymond's harsh commands the maid
338 Nor sigh nor tear return'd;
339 But, sorrowing, low she bow'd her head,
340 And silently she mourn'd.
341 Now Cynthia o'er the azure sky
342 Her starry mantle throws;
343 Around the world light visions fly,
344 To soften human woes.
345 But no delusive, flattering dream,
346 Which grants a short relief,
347 Led by soft slumber, kindly came
348 To sooth Matilda's grief.
349 Supinely on her couch reclin'd,
350 Prest by a weight of care,
351 No more her weak, distemper'd mind
352 Could comfort find in prayer.
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353 Affection, Duty, strongly plead
354 Her constant heart to move:
355 Firm in their cause that heart can bleed,
356 But cannot cease to love.
357 Now in the east with blushing pride
358 The purple morning rose,
359 And Health, with Labour by her side,
360 Starts from a light repose.
361 Matilda from her chamber hies,
362 All spiritless and weak;
363 Despair sits lowering in her eyes,
364 And sickens on her cheek.
365 The mead and garden's rich perfume
366 No more her steps delay,
367 But through the forest's awful gloom
368 She bends her devious way.
369 There, as immers'd in grief profound
370 Through pathless wilds she treads,
371 The deadly nightshade all around
372 Its baneful berries spreads.
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373 The fatal plant Matilda view'd,
374 Then touch'd with trembling hand;
375 And Faith with Reason now subdued,
376 Left Grief entire command.
377 Now her pale lips the berries stain,
378 Which eagerly she rends;
379 And now through every freezing vein
380 Their poisonous juice descends.
381 Raymond, who long with fruitless haste
382 Sought the devoted fair,
383 Now sees her in the desert waste,
384 Reclin'd with pensive air.
385 "Matilda, why this long delay?
386 " Why these dejected eyes?
387 "Why this disorder'd, loose array?
388 " Thy lover waits, "he cries.
389 "Raymond, I haste," the maid replied,
390 "Thy promise to fulfil,
391 " And follow wheresoe'er you guide,
392 "Obedient to your will."
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393 Now from the solitary wood
394 With rapid steps they turn'd,
395 To where an ancient chapel stood,
396 Where Seward lay inurn'd.
397 Before the venerable pile,
398 With reverential fear
399 And beating breasts, they paus'd awhile,
400 And shed a filial tear.
401 Now entering with averted eyes,
402 This hated lord to meet,
403 Matilda sees with wild surprise
404 Her Osmond at her feet.
405 Just then the poison's subtle power
406 Invades its trembling prey;
407 She sinks upon the marble floor,
408 Cold as her kindred clay.
409 Osmond, with anguish and affright,
410 Bends o'er the dying maid,
411 And sees from all mat charm'd his sight
412 The living lustre fade.
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413 "Matilda, 'tis thy Osmond calls,
414 " O bless him with a smile;
415 "With one kind look, ere yet he falls,
416 " His misery beguile. "
417 At his lov'd name she op'd her eyes,
418 And rais'd her languid head;
419 "Osmond, dear youth!" she faintly cries,
420 "I hasten to the dead.
421 "A poison on my vitals preys,
422 " And withers all my bloom;
423 "The rapid flood of life delays,
424 " And calls me to the tomb.
425 "Yet, Osmond, though we soon must part
426 " From other contracts free,
427 "To the last gasp this lingering heart
428 " Shall fondly dwell with thee. "
429 More had she said, but envious Death
430 Assum'd his iron sway:
431 Faint, and more faint, her struggling breath
432 Entirely dies away.
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433 Whilst Raymond, fill'd with vain remorse,
434 To view his victim fears,
435 Osmond bedews her senseless corse
436 With unavailing tears.
437 He cries, "Belov'd Matilda, wait,
438 " Nor yet thy Osmond leave
439 "Who hastens to partake thy fate,
440 " And join thee in the grave.
441 "Now, Edith, to thy hapless son
442 " Those mournful duties give,
443 "You hop'd, when life's sad race was run,
444 " From him you might receive.
445 "May piety thy woes assuage!
446 " Nor let my early doom
447 "Depress thy weak, declining age
448 " Untimely to the tomb! "
449 While duty and afffection warm
450 Thus his last thoughts inspir'd,
451 He press'd Matilda's lifeless form,
452 And, bow'd by grief, expir'd.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): Osmond and Matilda, A Tale.
Genres: narrative verse

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Source edition

Manners, Catherine Rebecca, Lady, 1766 or 1767-1852. Poems by Lady Manners. Second edition. London: John Bell, 1793, pp. [41]-63. 126p. (ESTC T173070)

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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.