1800 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To a young Friend, who in early life was thrown into a dangerous Society.

Poems and Tales. 2 Vols.

Elizabeth Trefusis


Two Prior stanzas by Elizabeth Trefusis, a Cornish poet, posthumously published in 1808. The poet warns her correspondent againt false friends: "O what, like sacred Innocence, can warm! | Should'st thou forget to blush, thou wouldst forget to charm." Trefusis was born in the 1760s, and the lines may well date from the eighteenth century. Since Trefusis was a friend of William Gifford, it may be that she is glancing at the licentiousness associated with the objects of Gifford's ridicule, the Della Cruscan poets. But this sort of friendly advice-giving was a very common posture in female Spenserian verse.

Thomas Denman: "The contents of these volumes evince a mind endowed with uncommon sensibility, and trained by exercise to great ease and elegance of composition; but we observe a sameness in the subjects and cast of thought, which becomes tedious in the perusal, and which often leads us to wish for the omission of many of the pieces here inserted, and the compression of two volumes into one. As to the subjects of them, the predominating sentiments are those of indignation against male coquets, and compassion for the victims who are beguiled and abandoned by that perfidious and heartless race" Monthly Review NS 57 (October 1808) 206.

Poetical Register for 1808-09: "These poems possess great feeling, simplicity, and elegance. Miss Trefusis was a woman of taste, and of a polished mind. Her compositions will cause her name to be remembered with honour; but she herself is now deaf to the voice of praise; she did not long survive the publication of her volumes" (1812) 557.



Pure child of nature, rest thee as thou art;
Friends they are not, who urge thee to forego
The timid glance which speaks th' unpractised heart,
Whose chasten'd fires with milder radiance glow.
Friends they are not, who scorn the modest ray
Which through the sable curtain of thine eye
Tremblingly beams! — Too fierce the glare of day,
When no light summer cloud corrects the sky!
The bold intrepid stare, the gaze assured,
Tells how, in every vice, the worldling is matured!

Friends they are not, who ridicule the blush
Quick mantling o'er that ever-varying cheek;
'Tis innocence! whose soul-subduing flush
A language more than mortal seems to speak!
Looks not the lily loveliest, when the rose
Bends o'er her blossoms, lending foreign grace?
Thus, on the cheek of youth, the warm blush shews:
'Tis Virtue's Banner, waved o'er Beauty's Face!
O what, like sacred Innocence, can warm!
Should'st thou forget to blush, thou wouldst forget to charm.

[1:46-47]