Elegiac Verses


A Lady.



K E N T :

Printed at the private Press of Lee Priory ;



(image of title page i ;  enlargement of Lee Priory, Kent.)

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  FEW copies of the first of these

      Poems have been before printed

      at this Press ; and distributed to

the private friends of the Family to whom it relates.

Stately home seen through passage in stone wall

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Lady Brydges,


Grey Matthew Brydges.

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Grey Matthew Brydges;

Who died at Minorca on the 25th of February, 1812.

Aged Fourteen Years and Four Months.


HY Child was lull'd on Death's cold couch to
        sleep ;
Years since have past, and yet I see thee weep;
Yet, yet, by busy Memory kept alive,
   The heart-struck Mother's griefs, alas, survive !
   Is there no blessed spell, no opiate blest,
   To cheat a Mother's memory to rest ?
   Look on the lovely treasures that remain;
   Let these seduce thee from regrets so vain !
   Oh, no:  by links too powerful are allied
   The joy for These that live, the woe for Him that died.

      In life's young season, when the world was new,
   And Love adorn'd it with enchantment's hue,

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    He, the first pledge that Love awoke to light,
Was more than angel in thy partial sight.
Ah !  who can tell the youthful Mother's joy,
When first her arms receiv'd her infant Boy ?
When first she gave her first maternal kiss ?
Ah !  what are words to paint a Mother's bliss !

   Fed from thy breast, in charms the infant grew,
Fresh as the May-morn flower that drinks the dew:
Then, as the term of boyhood just began,
How well the Boy gave promise of the Man ;
When, warm for enterprize, and pall'd with ease,
He went undaunted forth, and dared the Seas !
What serves it here to dwell on every test
Wherewith Adventure proved the Sailor's breast:
Each toil and watch endur'd by day and night,
Each rough assault of tempest or of fight :
To tell what lands he saw ;  how oft he bore
Some classic relick from a famous shore :
How oft return'd (ah !  why again to roam ?)
To taste the dear felicity of home,

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    And pause awhile from ocean's rude alarms ;
The harbour of his rest a Mother's arms.

   I saw, ere last the wanderer left thy side,
This cherish'd object of thy pain and pride.
I saw him clad with beauty as a vest :
His graceful form the graceful mind express'd.
I mark'd that mind ;  so young, yet so matur'd
By painful trial manfully endur'd.
Talent's strong sun had forc'd the vernal shoot ;
At once it bore the blossom and the fruit.
Then Friendship too, in sympathy with Thee,
Was idly dreaming what the youth would be :
A Hero, diadem'd with Glory's crown,
To gild his ancient name with new renown.
Where is He now ?  thus gifted and thus fair,
Could not the hand of Heaven the stroke forbear ?
So young, and good, and beautiful, and brave !
Was it not hard to doom him to the grave ?
To bid Disease assail with jealous tooth
The rich unfolding roses of his youth,

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    And, blighting them, the Mother's hope to blight,
The hope that promis'd such a long delight ?

   Yet it were something still, if o'er the clay
Of Him thus early snatch'd from life away,
Maternal love but now and then might keep
A little sacred interval, to weep.
Alas !  fond Mourner !  this too is denied ;
Far, far away from home, from thee, he died.
Minorca's air receiv'd his latest breath ;
It's earth too gave his narrow cell of death.
To dew his fading cheek with pious tear,
No parent, brother, sister, tended near :
No sister, brother, parent, e'er must weep
Beside the bed wherein his ashes sleep.

      Child of the Ocean !  had the troubled wave,
Thine own proud element, become thy grave,
When all thy soul with generous rage was warm'd,
Had'st thou been struck while gallant battle storm'd,
Then by thy fall had fame at least been bought !
So whispers Fancy to a Mother's thought.

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    Delusion !  could that Mother's thought have borne
The bosom gash'd, the limb asunder torn,
The life-blood, none perhaps it's tide to check,
Effusive o'er the horror-drenched deck,
The form convuls'd, the shriek of torment wild,
The last dull moaning of her dying Child ?
No, no, though doom'd to fall, poor Boy, 'twas well,
That not in Battle's hideous fray he fell.

   But give thy tears ;  for those, though long they flow,
Are not the rash impiety of woe.
Rebellion brands not the afflicted mind,
Regret may deeply mourn, yet be resign'd:
And Heaven, in mercy to a Mother's grief,
Permits those tears to lend a sad relief.
Perchance at times 'tis e'en allow'd thy Boy
To quit for thee his Paradise of joy !
Perchance, e'en now, the disembodied Saint
Is hovering near, to silence grief's complaint,
Breathe comfort to his Mother's aching heart,
And act at once a Son's and Angel's part.

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       I do believe, that when the Good ascend,
To live the ’ empyreal life that ne'er shall end,
’Tis not denied them in that world to meet
Those for whose sakes e'en this bad world was sweet ;
That friends and kindred are allow'd above
Each to know each again, in purer love ;
That in the presence of the Great Ador'd,
Again the Spouse may meet the Spouse deplor'd ;
Sister and Brother form the ring again,
And parted Lovers bind the broken chain ;
Fathers amidst their gather'd children rest,
And tender Mothers bless them and be bless'd.

   I do believe the Godhead will allow
This perfect bliss to Mothers such as thou.
When Seraphs up to heaven thy soul translate,
Thy child shall meet thee at the golden gate ;
Shall bid thee welcome to the Promis'd Land ;
Shall guide thee in through all the glorious band ;
While all the Angels wave their wings with joy,
And hail ye both, the Mother and her Boy !

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       And These, yet left to her who gave them birth,
To cheer her further pilgrimage on earth,
These, who, with youth elate and blind to care,
Now round thee wanton, shall rejoin thee there.
There too, where never the high heart is rack'd,
Where never cares the noble mind distract,
Where Feeling, Fancy, Genius, unrepress'd,
May thrill, expand, exalt the ’ unburthen'd breast,
There shall the generous Lyre, that here below
Wafts scarce a note beside the note of woe,
No more by Sorrow warp'd, by Envy jarr'd,
Breathe all the lofty spirit of the Bard,
Whom, while thine offspring listen to that Lyre,
Their eyes and hearts shall know ;  and they shall bless
                 their Sire.

Hour glass

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Lady Brydges,


Edward William George Brydges.

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Edward William George Brydges;

Who died at Lee Priory on the 13th of June, 1816.

Aged Fifteen Years and Seven Months.


NOTHER blow from heaven !---and wherefore
            thus ?---
  Shall human woe the act of heaven discuss ?
  Shall roused Affliction lift to God it's eye,
  And, knowing that He will'd it, question why ?---
    Tried Mother, bow thy head, and quell thy breast,
    And check the ’ unholy murmur ere express'd !
    There was too much of good about thee still,
    Baffling the jealous counterpoise of ill.
    The draught of life was yet too strong for care ;
    Schemes were too quick, and hopes too busy there;
    So grief again, as bubbles mantled up,
    Was sent to tame the spirit of the cup.
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       Ask thine own heart---descend into that cell
Where lives the Priestess of Truth's Oracle,
Conscience, that breathes self-knowledge :  She will say,
A Mother's pride too deeply rooted lay
Within thy bosom ;  giving thoughts of earth
More room than aught terrestrial should be worth.
Thy love of thine own lovely race was such
As held thee fetter'd to the world too much :
So Death was made thy visitor again,
To break another rivet of the chain,
That to thy mind's ambition might be given
A freer aspiration after heaven.

   Twice on the treasure of thy soul the hand
That lent it has enforced a stern demand.
Yet think, afflicted Parent, for thy peace,
How may the seeming loss thy wealth increase.
If both so early in the grave they lie,
They both were innocent, and fit to die.
Fairer than stars their spirits glow above ;
And from their sphere depends a chain of love,

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    A chain of light to thee and thine descending,
Whereby riven hearts in mystic links are blending ;
And the pure fires with which those spirits glow,
Can thrill and lighten on the hearts below.

   Direct thy gaze, thou cherisher of woes,
Where yon meek spire the hamlet's temple shews !
Is there no comfort in that place of prayer ?---
Alas, those tears deny all solace there :
Fuller and faster at the view they fall ;
As though that sight were bitterer than all.
Well ;  who shall censure those o'erflowing eyes ?
Religion's self will scarce refuse her sighs.
We all remember when each Sabbath Morn
Saw thy young group that humble fane adorn ;
With him, among the rest, of guileless brow---
Where is that dear and guileless Edward now !---
When then ye glanced upon the vault beneath,
No echo warn'd you from that seat of death,
Whose shade at last must shroud you all, that doom
Adjudg'd him next into that dark cold room.

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       Death stole upon thee in a doubtful mask ;
The black destroyer wanton'd with his task ;
And mock'd with promise thy maternal hope ;
And gave---that's some relief---thy virtues scope.
We all remember---how can we forget---
Those nightly vigils, that should sooth regret ;
Those daily cares, and duties overpaid,
While the youth wasted to a bloodless shade.
We all remember how, until the last,
Clung by his side this Mother unsurpast ;
Caught every tone, consulted every look,
Read every thought, and every wish o'ertook :
And, in despite of pain's exerted fangs,
Foil'd the tormentor of his keenest pangs.

   Propp'd on his pillow as the victim lay,
While Life just pruned her wings to fleet away,
Cheer'd by her flutter, it was sweet, he said,
To lie thus careless on a tranquil bed :
And thence behold the trees in tender green,
And all the freshness of a vernal scene ;

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    And feel the breeze that sometimes flew by stealth
To fan his cheek, and warble words of health.---
Then came the hour !---the spirit waxing dim ;
The helpless, hopeless feebleness of limb ;
The wandering hands that quarrell'd with the air ;
The glance that flicker'd round, but knew not where ;
The language wilder than the trackless wind ;
The last delirious energies of mind ;
The cheeks, like wither'd aspen leaves in hue,
And like those leaves all coldly shuddering too ;
The quivering throat's half-choak'd and struggling cry ;
And last---that fix'd expression of the eye !---
Not yet ;  not yet ;  it cannot yet be o'er:---
The soul still lights that face---O gaze no more,
Unhappy Father !  wherefore didst thou stay,
Watching the progress of thine own decay,
The dread mortality of thine own flesh---
That seems in those that yet remain so fresh ?
Away !  even She who watch'd as none have watch'd,
She, the poor Mother with the heart unmatch'd,
Dragg'd by the arm of friendship from the room,
Has left him---to the agents of the tomb.
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    Take thy last look, and let it linger not ;
And let us lead thee from this blighted spot.
In your sepulchral chamber, corse to corse,
Ye still shall meet, in spite of this divorce ;
In the eternal Kingdom, soul to soul,
Ye still may live, when planets cease to roll.

Young lad standing against arch.

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N O T E S.

      THE following Extract from the ‘ Gentleman's Magazine ’  for April 1812, may explain some part of the first Poem.
      “ February 25th, 1812, died at Minorca, of a fever brought on by the measles, G
REY MATTHEW BRYDGES, (of his Majesty's ship Malta, Admiral Hallowell,) third son* of SIR EGERTON BRYDGES, of Lee Priory, near Canterbury. He was aged only fourteen years and four months ;  of which he had been five and an half at sea ;  having embarked on board the Glatton, Captain Seccombe, in July 1806, with whom he remained in the Mediterranean till that lamented officer's death under the walls of Reggio, in Feb. 1808. In June 1808, after only a month spent at home, he embarked on board Le Tigre, Captain Hallowell, at Deal ;  and sailed for the Baltic, and thence accompanied it again to the Mediterranean in November, where he remained till the ship again returned to Plymouth, in July 1811 ;  and was paid off. After a vacation of only four months, which he spent in the bosom of his family, he embarked with his old Captain (who had now obtained a Flag), in the Malta ;  and sailed in January 1812 a third time for the Mediterranean. Thus had this extraordinary Boy, in the very years of childhood, passed a life of activity, extent, and public service, which falls to the lot of few men, however aged. How noble his spirit was ;  how enlarged his understanding;  how manly and solid his knowledge ;  yet with the warmest and tenderest domestic affections ;  it would only seem like exaggeration to describe. It had appeared as if he was forming his character for some mighty part on the grand theatre of the world ;  but it has pleased Divine Providence to shew us how vain and fallacious are all our hopes here ; and to turn the glory of his parents and family into a subject of inconsolable sorrow and regret. He died the last week of February (his ship being absent on a cruize), and was buried near several other British officers under one of the bastions of Fort Philip ;  attended by his countrymen, Captain Kittoe of the Hibernia, and Mr. Legeyt, who, accidentally hearing of the melancholy event, most kindly gave their services on the awful occasion.”



Where yon meek spire the hamlet's temple shews.

The village Church of Ickham in Kent, in which is the vault of the family.

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* He was the eldest Son of the Lady to whom the Poem is addressed.

The End.

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