1790
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Elegiac Complaint, in imitation of Shenstone.

Walker's Hibernian Magazine (August 1790) 183-84.

C. M.


A pastoral ballad in seven double-quatrain stanzas, signed "C. M." This poem is something of a puzzle, and not only because it owes little to Shenstone besides its stanza. The poet contrasts his up-and-down affair with Ruby with the constancy he has enjoyed with fair Peggy of Montrose: "How near allied joy and despair, | As the calm still succeeds to the gale; | For I found one both true and sincere, | In the gloomy recess of a gaol." The poet declares that he owes his life to Peggy, who has since died. Footnotes inform us that Montrose is the capital of Angus in Scotland, and of Peggy, "It is said that the present Prince of Wales was much in love with her" 183n. C. M. was a regular conributor to the Hibernian Magazine.



When first I fair Ruby beheld,
My heart was quite free and serene;
I thought she all maidens excell'd
In beauty, in shape, and in mein;
How happy was I if I caught,
The glance of her beautiful eye,
The cause of it often I sought,
But knew not, and could not tell why.

Too late, yet alas, I soon found
The reason of her I approv'd;
Sly Cupid had got me fast bound,
And Ruby, the maiden, I lov'd:
Peace fled from my pillow at night,
I knew not in truth what to do;
I us'd all my power and might
To bid the sweet maiden adieu.

As oft as she vow'd she'd be mine,
I call'd on the powers above,
And swore I would ne'er her resign,
But she should alone be my my love.
Yet fickleness dwelt in the maid,
She forgot me, she lov'd me no more;
You must her for ever upbraid,
If my sorrows you ever deplore.

Contentment's blest cottage I sought,
Was sure I could never it find;
No girl upon earth then I thought,
Would ever be constant and kind:
How near allied joy and despair,
As the calm still succeeds to the gale;
For I found one both true and sincere,
In the gloomy recess of a gaol.

Oh thou! to this heart ever dear!
Thou faithful! thou constant and true!
I'll never forget all the care,
I receiv'd, and experienc'd from you;
When a fever was burning my frame,
Friends, reason, alas! were no more;
Dear Peggy by me would remain,
Till her care did my senses restore.

Ah! Scotia, your Pride loud bewail,
And Angus your child too deplore,
Fair Beauty your loss now reveal,
The lass of Montrose is no more:
Those charms shall no longer engage,
That captive led princes away;
For the envy and pride of the age,
Is mouldering now into clay.

Weep, gratitude! weep to her shade!
And friendship go sobbing along!
Drop, pity, a tear to the maid,
That was once all the pride of my song.
To her mem'ry dear I shall rear,
The tribute now left to bestow;
And ever, for ever, declare
My life to poor Peggy I owe.

[pp. 183-84]