A ROMANTIC SCENE
Which happened in the year 1746.
1 Phenes and Hero far retir'd,
2 Without one wish to be admir'd,
3 Liv'd in a lonely den;
4 Of equal birth in friendship blest,
5 A mutual passion both confest,
6 And shun'd the paths of men.
7 The charms of nature were their pride,
8 The winding wood, the water side,
9 The chief of their delight;
10 How pleas'd, how fondly would they stray,
11 At early dawn, or beaming day,
12 Or mark the solemn night.
13 These lovely maids, with equal grace,
14 Did differ far in form and face,
15 But both completely fair;[Page 15]
16 And angel smil'd on Phenes' lips,
17 Her bloom did every rose eclipse,
18 And yellow was her hair.
19 But Hero pale as winter snow,
20 Did each expressive feature show,
21 That made fair Helen shine;
22 Her glossy hair, as black as jet,
23 Hung almost waving to her feet;
24 She seem'd or was divine.
25 'Twas on the softest morn in Spring,
26 When hearts at ease elated sing,
27 To hail the rising year,
28 The dew drops hung from every flower,
29 They rose and left their little bower,
30 And wander'd void of fear.
31 At length they reach'd a lofty hill;
32 They climb'd a rock — then both stood still
33 To view the rising sun;[Page 16]
34 Not distant far they spied a swain;
35 They felt a sort of pleasing pain,
36 But strove the path to shun.
37 O! such a youth is seldom seen,
38 In belted plaid and vest of green,
39 With looks of manly pride;
40 All gay in ancient grandeur drest,
41 A brilliant star adorn'd his breast,
42 A sword hung by his side,
43 They turn'd with modest looks and shy;
44 He stood, he gaz'd, he came not nigh;
45 He held his wounded heart.
46 Nor did he know, nor could he tell
47 Which lovely maid did most excell,
48 Or who had shot the dart.
49 Fair Phenes' beauty he admir'd;
50 Her smiles, her bloom, his bosom fir'd,
51 Her soft her easy air;[Page 17]
52 But when he gaz'd on Hero's eyes,
53 He felt such strong emotions rise,
54 It was too much to bear.
55 Now homeward as they bent their course,
56 The first time e'er they felt the force
57 Of Love's resistless power,
58 They blush'd; they knew not what to say;
59 They walk'd in silence all the way,
60 And slowly reach'd their bower.
61 Unknown to every low disguise,
62 They scarce could meet each other's eyes,
63 So strangely did they feel;
64 O needless care, it was in vain!
65 For love, of every other pain,
66 No woman can conceal.
67 Their tender passion both confest;
68 Night drew apace, they fought for rest
69 But sleep had flown away. [Page 18]
70 His image was a waking dream;
71 When Luna show'd her pallid beam
72 They thought it break of day.
73 Says Hero, Phenes, will you go,
74 To yonder lofty hill you know,
75 And taste the morning breeze;
76 Again I think to tread the place
77 Where we beheld that angel face,
78 Would give my bosom ease.
79 O no! replied the other maid,
80 For me I'll seek the darkest shade,
81 Nor trust the hills again
82 It would but fill my heart with grief;
83 Can barren mountains give relief,
84 When absent is the swain?
85 While thus they argued, all around
86 They heard soft music's melting sound,
87 Sent in a moving strain:[Page 19]
88 Then hand in hand they walk'd along,
89 To join its echoes with a song,
90 And wander'd o'er the plain.
91 But ah! what pleasure and surprise,
92 When lo! before their wishing eyes
93 Appear'd the handsome youth
94 At once amaz'd they see the moon;
95 It was as they had met too soon,
96 Too late to hide the truth.
97 His trembling lips forsook the flute;
98 Resolv'd no longer to be mute,
99 He thus address'd the fair:
100 I fear, sweet maids, I've been too bold,
101 But in Cleanthus you behold
102 The victim of despair.
103 And O my grief's of such a kind,
104 I never must reveal my mind,
105 But pine in endless woe. [Page 20]
106 He said no more, but heav'd a sigh,
107 One silent tear bedew'd his eye,
108 He bow'd, and turn'd to go.
109 Forgetting all their female pride,
110 For female weakness will not hide,
111 They caught him in their arms:
112 O do not, do not fly away!
113 At least till noon with us you'll stay;
114 Your voice, your music charms.
115 Our dwelling is but small and mean,
116 A little hut on yonder green,
117 We boast no princely hall.
118 But there all nature strews her sweets,
119 The tuneful choir in concert meets,
120 And there the waters fall.
121 Then welcome, stranger, freely share
122 Our humble roof, our simple fare,
123 We'll try to soothe your woes. [Page 21]
124 Or if fatigu'd, you wish to rest,
125 To ease the struggles of your breast,
126 We'll sing you to repose.
127 Beyond his utmost hopes delighted,
128 By Beauty's self, by Love invited,
129 With them he freely went;
130 Nor were they distant from the spot,
131 Where stood the sweet romantic cot,
132 The mansion of content.
133 All day the happy stranger staid;
134 He talk'd, he sung, his flute he play'd,
135 To charm each tender heart;
136 But O! when Phoebus hid his head,
137 The charm is broke, the transport fled,
138 Alas! they're doom'd to part.
139 Farewell, he cries! I bid adieu
140 To all I prize, in leaving you
141 I leave my soul behind! [Page 22]
142 For never did I chance to meet
143 With maids so lovely and so sweet,
144 So killing, and so kind.
145 On me does Fate and Fortune frown;
146 Tho' born to reign, and wear a crown,
147 Alas I'm doom'd to mourn:
148 An exile from my native shore,
149 I never will behold you more;
150 I never can return!
151 The blood forsook fair Phenes' cheek,
152 She sobb'd aloud, but could not speak,
153 She fear'd to bid him stay:
154 Bright Hero's ruby lips turn'd pale,
155 She found her vital spirits fail,
156 She sunk, and died away.
157 I see, he said, I have been wrong;
158 Indeed, I fear, I've stay'd too long,
159 And now I cannot go. [Page 23]
160 Why did I e'er thy dwelling trace,
161 For ever let me hide my face,
162 The cause of so much woe.
163 With Hero every art they tried,
164 But Death their utmost skill defied,
165 Her spotless soul had fled:
166 Distracted for her loss, they rave;
167 In Leder Den they dug her grave,
168 And laid her with the dead.
169 Cleanthus staid a day or two,
170 Till cruel foes his steps pursue,
171 Then was he forc'd to fly:
172 Now, Phenes, who can paint thy grief,
173 Without one hope to give relief,
174 Or check the bursting sigh?
175 Her friend, her lover, ever lost,
176 On Sorrow's ample ocean tost,
177 Her charms began to fade;[Page 24]
178 For twice twelve months did Phenes weep,
179 Till her fair eyes were clos'd in sleep,
180 Below the silent shade.
181 'Tis only Philomel can tell
182 The time, the place where Phenes fell,
183 And ended all her care.
184 Two gentle spirits have been seen,
185 In Fairy dress, of rural green,
186 To walk and wander there.