"Elegy on the Death of Lady Middleton. " by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
THE knell of death, that on the twilight gale,
Swells its deep murmur to the pensive ear;
In awful sounds repeats a mournful tale,
And claims the tribute of a tender tear.
The dreadful hour is past ! the mandate giv'n !
The gentle MIDDLETON shall breathe no more,
Yet who shall blame the wise decrees of Heaven,
Or the dark mysteries of Fate explore ?
No more her converse shall delight the heart;
No more her smile benign spread pleasure round;
No more her liberal bosom shall impart
The balm of pity to Affliction's wound.
Her soul above the pride of noble birth,
Above the praises of an empty name,
By graceful MEEKNESS mark'd superior worth,
By peerless VIRTUES claim'd the fairest fame,
Nor did those Virtues flaunt their innate rays,
To court applause, or charm the vulgar throng,
No ostentatious glare illum'd her days,
No idle boast escap'd her tuneful tongue.
When FAME, ambitious to record her praise,
On glitt'ring pinions spread her name afar,
Her gentle nature shunn'd the dazzling blaze,
Mild as the lustre of the morning star !
DIVINE BENEVOLENCE around her shone !
The chastest manners spoke her spotless mind;
That Pow'r who gave now claims her for his own,
Pure as the cherub she has left behind. †
As round her couch the winged darts of death
Reluctant flew from Fate's unerring bow,
Immortal angels claim'd her quivering breath,
And snatch'd her spirit from a world of woe.
Calm resignation smil'd upon her cheek,
And HOPE'S refulgent beam illum'd her eye;
While FAITH, celestial VIRTUE'S handmaid meek,
On wings of seraphs bore her to the sky.
Ye poor, who from her gen'rous bounty fed;
Oh ! to HER mem'ry give the fame that's due;
For oft, from pleasure's blithe meanders led,
Her pensive bosom felt a pang for YOU.
Yet, cease to mourn a sainted Spirit gone
To seek its resting place, beyond the skies;
Where 'midst the glories of TH' ETERNAL's throne,
She tastes celestial bliss–THAT NEVER DIES! *
† Lady Middleton died in childbed.
* This accomplished comment to human nature was the widow of the late Willoughby lord Middleton of Woolaton in Nottinghamshire, and wife of Edward Miller Mundy, Esq. of Shipley in the county of Derby, by whom her ladyship had one daughter now living.
[Notes were included in the original text by Mrs. Robinson, at the bottom of each individual page. They are given here at the end of each poem. ]