1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Montagu

Juvenis, "On the Death of Mrs. Montagu" Universal Magazine 107 (September 1800) 227-28.



Oft blushing beauty flies on early wing,
To seek a happier home, a milder spring,
Thro' summer's heat the weary pilgrims go,
But few remain to traverse winter's snow.
Nor envied they, thro' lengthen'd tempests born,
Long life but gives us longer time to mourn.
Yet cause for envy are declining years,
Which wealth esteems, and poverty reveres;
Which ebb in peace, and sinking slow to sleep,
Leave us to praise, to imitate, and weep.
Such years, that down a generous streamlet ran,
Endear'd the name of Montagu to man.
But now, alas! obtruding clouds o'erspread
The brightest scenes, since Montagu is dead!
Faint to her door, behold the poor man creep,
He asks not now for bread, but leave to weep.
Long had the briny stream been taught to cease,
By her, who gave him joy, who gave him peace,
But now remov'd the cause, that stop'd its course,
Its long concealment gives it great force.
In vain he would to bounds the stream confine,
'Tis Sorrow's tribute paid at Virtue's shrine.
And who will stay the overflowing tear!
That swells to tell us Montagu was dear.
O let it flow, 'tis Nature stript of art,
It tells a feeling soul, a grateful heart.
And ye, who on her yearly bounty fed,
And bless'd the aged hand that gave you bread,
How will ye weep the loss we all deplore!
Your benefactress ne'er will feed you more.
Yet ere she soar'd for ever from your view,
Haply her gentle bosom thought on you;
And tho' the generous bounty still remain,
Oft ye will wish the giver back again.
And while ye eat the plenty she has spread,
The tear of Mem'ry will bedew your bread.
But she is gone, to claim her kindred skies,
Her sun is set, in happier climes to rise!
Science laments th' irrevocable doom,
And bears funereal boughs to shade her tomb.
And she hath seen the mournful cypress wave,
O'er many a friend's, and many a fellow's grave.
They too who lisp'd with her their parent's tongue,
And they, who lov'd her, when her days were young,
The greater part, to their last homes consign'd,
Had left the generous Montagu behind,
Heav'n long withheld her from th' expecting tomb,
To bless the world, and cheer the pilgrim's doom.
At length to punish man, and virtue bless,
It bore her forth to endless happiness.
And now, blest sp'rit, we bid a last farewell,
But on thy Virtues long must sorrow dwell,
Nor shall thy mem'ry in oblivion sleep,
While gratitude can praise, and friendship weep.