TO MRS. LEFANUE*
"Hélas,en l'amitié--les talents, la vertu
Pourront-ils trouver ton égale." VOLTAIRE.
OH why are not all those close ties which enfold
Each human connexion like those which unite us!
Why should interest or pride, or feelings so cold,
Alone to sweet amity's bondage invite us?
Thou wert just in that age when the soul's brightest ray
Illumines each mellowing charm of the face,
And the graces of youth still delightedly play
O'er each mind-beaming beauty which TIME cannot chase.
I was young, inexperienc'd, unknowing, unknown,
Wild, ardent, romantic, a stranger to thee;
But I'd heard worth, wit, genius, were all, all thine own;
And forgetting that thou wert a stranger to me,
My heart overflowing, and new to each form
Of the world, I sought thee, nor fear'd to offend
By unconscious presumption: oh sure 'twas some charm
That thus led me to seek in a stranger, a friend!
Yes, yes, 'twas a charm of such magical force
As Reason herself never wish'd to repel,
For it drew its sweet magic from Sympathy's source,
And Reason herself bows to Sympathy's spell.
Yet fearful of failing, and wishful of pleasing,
How timidly anxious thy notice I woo'd!
But oh! thy first warm glance each wild doubt appeasing,
With courage, with fondness, my faint heart endu'd.
No never (till mem'ry by death shall be blighted)
Can our first touching interview fade from my mind,
When thou, all delighting, and I all delighted,
I, more than confiding; though much more than kind.
Forgetful, scarce germ'd was our friendship's young flower,
My heart o'er my lips unrestrain'd seem'd to rove,
Whilst thou sweetly veiling thy MIND'S BRIGHTER power
Left me much to admire, yet still more to love.
Till warm'd by a kindness endearing, as dear,
A wild, artless song was respir'd for thee;
'Twas a national lay!* and oh! when shall the tear
Which was shed o'er that song, be forgotten by me.
And now since that sweet day some years have flown by,
And some golden hours of those years have been mine;
But each year as it fled never twisted one tie
Round my heart, like that tie which first bound it to thine.
*Grand-daughter to the friend of Swift--daughter to the celebrated Thomas Sheridan--to the Author of Sidney Biddulph--and sister to the Right Hon. Richard Brinsley Sheridan-- claiming a connexion equally intimate with many other CHARACTERS scarcely less eminent; yet by a unity in her OWN of the most unblemished virtue and the most brilliant talents, reflecting back upon her distinguished kindred a lustre pure and permanent as that she has received from it.[return to title]
*"Eamunh a Cnuic," or, "Edmund of the Hill." [return to stanza IX]
"Mrs. Lefanue" is Mrs. Alicia Lefanu, author of The Sons of Erin. For further information about the relationship between Mrs. Alicia Lefanu and Sydney Owenson, see Lionel Stevensons's The Wild Irish Girl: The Life of Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan (1776-1859) (New York: Russell and Russell, 1936).