1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Elizabeth Trefusis, "Valentine to William Gifford" The Sun (11 August 1808).



A pleasing form, a virtuous mind,
A temper gracious, liberal, kind,
A friendship steady and sincere,
A heart incapable of fear,
Because incapable of wrong,
Such was the youth who grac'd my song;
Such was the guide I proudly chose
When Valentine's sweet morn arose;
The day, the year, are gone and past,
Yet ever shall our friendship last;
Halton, farewell! no longer thine,
Fate gives another Valentine;
For tyrant custom has decreed
Thou shalt not to thyself succeed.

Where shall the little lorn one stray,
Or who will point her dubious way?
Her doubtful step may tread aside
Without her lov'd accustom'd guide;
Banish'd the harbour of his breast,
She knows not, seeks not, where to rest!
Her shatter'd vessel scarce can 'bide
The tossings of life's turbid tide;
Then let her cast her eyes around,
And anchor on the firmest ground;
Implore some kind extended hand
To lead her o'er life's fairy land,
And point the dangers which await
A female's unprotected state.

And who so competent a guide,
Who o'er her conduct to preside,
As he, whose quick discerning eye
Each little weakness can descry?
As he whose noble candour proves
The beauty of that truth he loves?
O GIFFORD! though thy bitter page
Announces all the Critic's rage,
The gall which makes vain folly smart
Flows from thy judgment, not thine heart;
For in thy meek, yet ardent, breast
What gentler virtues stand confest!
What dignified humility,
Join'd to the babe's simplicity!

Since such thou art, I will not fear
To choose thee for th' ensuing year;
The humblest vot'ry of the Nine
Claims a Parnassian Valentine!
And if no talent she reveals,
Her only boast is — that she feels!
O GIFFORD! while the tender tear
Bedews thy gentle ANNA'S bier,
Darest thou aver no stone will tell
The name of him who lov'd so well?
While Judgment, sense, and feeling, live,
Darest thou aver no friend will grieve,
When Nature's noblest works decay,
And high-soul'd GIFFORD sinks to clay?