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Their lady to her couch with gushing eyes;
Of herbs and cordials they produced their store, But she defied all means they could employ, Like one life could not hold, nor death destroy.
Days lay she in that state unchanged, though chill —
With nothing livid, still her lips were red; She had no pulse, but death seem'd absent still ;
No hideous sign proclaim'd her surely dead; Corruption came not in each mind to kill
All hope; to look upon her sweet face bred New thoughts of life, for it seem'd full of soulShe had so much, earth could not claim the whole.
The ruling passion, such as marble shows
When exquisitely chisell'd, still lay there, But fix'd as marble's unchanged aspect throws
O'er the fair Venus, but for ever fair ;(1)
Vol. XII. p. 211.) at the age of eighty years, when “ Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?" Before I was xteen years of age, I was witness to a melancholy instance of the same effect of mixed passions upon a young person, who, however, did not die in consequence, at that time, but fell a victim some years afterwards to a seizure of the same kind, arising from causes intimately connected with agitation of mind.
(1) [See antè, Vol. VIII. pp. 213. 295. The view of the Venus of Medicis instantly suggests the lines in the “ Seasons,”
“ With wild surprise,
O'er the Laocoon's all eternal throes, (TM)
And ever-dying Gladiator's air, (2) Their energy
like life forms all their fame, Yet looks not life, for they are still the same.(3)
[-“illi agmine certo,
“ their destin'd way they take,
His holy fillets the blue venom blots,” &c. — DRYDEN. *
[“ The sublime mark of a great soul shines forth, in all its beauty, through those affecting expressions of pain and anguish that appear in the countenance of the famous Laocoon, and diffuse their horrors through his convulsed members. The bitterness of his torment seems to be imprinted on each muscle, and to swell every nerve; and it is expressed with pecu. liar energy, by the contraction of the abdomen and all the lower parts of his body: this expression is so lively, that the attentive spectator partakes, in some measure, of the anguish it represents. The sufferings of the body and the elevation of the soul are expressed in every member with equal energy, and form the most sublime contrast imaginable. Laocoon suffers it, but he suffers like the Philoctetes of Sophocles ; his lamentable situation pierces the heart, but fills us, at the same time, with an ambitious desire of being able to imitate his constancy and magnanimity in the pains and sufferings that may fall to our lot.” — WINKELMANN.
“ In the group of the Laocoon, the frigid ecstasies of German criticism have discovered pity like a vapour swimming on the father's eyes; he is seen to suppress in the groan for his children the shriek for himself - his nostrils are drawn upward, to express indignation at unworthy sufferings, whilst he is said at the same time to implore celestial help. To these are added the winged effects of the serpent-poison, the writhings of the body,
She woke at length, but not as sleepers wake,
Rather the dead, for life seem'd something new, A strange sensation which she must partake
Perforce, since whatsoever met her view Struck not on memory, though a heavy ache
Lay at her heart, whose earliest beat still true Brought back the sense of pain without the cause, For, for a while, the furies made a pause.
She look'd on many a face with vacant eye,
On many a token without knowing what ;
And reck'd not who around her pillow sat;
Reliev'd her thoughts ; dull silence and quick chat Were tried in vain by those who served; she gave No sign, save breath, of having left the grave.
.. (1) [MS.
-“She took their medicines without asking why.”]
the spasms of the extremities: to the miraculous organisation of such ex. pression, Agesander, the sculptor of the Laocoon, was too wise to lay claim. His figure is a class : it characterises every beauty of virility verging on age; the prince, the priest, the father are visible, but, absorbed in the man, serve only to dignify the victim of one great expression; though poised by the artist for us, to apply the compass to the face of the Laocoon is to measure the wave fluctuating in the storm : this tempestuous front, this contracted nose, the immersion of these eyes, and, above all, that longdrawn mouth, are, separate and united, seats of convulsion, features of nature, struggling within the jaws of death.” — Fuseli.]
Her father watch'd, she turn'd her eyes away; She recognised no being, and no spot
However dear or cherish'd in their day ; They changed from room to room,
but all forgot, Gentle, but without memory she lay ; [ing At length those eyes, which they would fain be weanBack to old thoughts, wax'd full of fearful meaning.
The harper came, and tuned his instrument ;
On him her flashing eyes a moment bent, Then to the wall she turn'd as if to warp
Her thoughts from sorrow through her heart reAnd he begun a long low island song [sent; Of ancient days, ere tyranny grew strong.
Anon her thin wan fingers beat the wall
In time to his old tune ; he changed the theme, And sung of love; the fierce name struck through all
Her recollection ; on her flash'd the dream Of what she was, and is, if ye could call
To be so being; in a gushing stream The tears rush'd forth from her o'erclouded brain, Like mountain mists at length dissolved in rain.
(1) [MS. — “At last some one bethought them of a harp.”]
Short solace, vain relief !- thought came too quick,
And whirl'd her brain to madness; she arose As one who ne'er had dwelt among the sick,
And flew at all she met, as on her foes ; But no one ever heard her speak or shriek,
Although her paroxysm drew towards its close ;Hers was a phrensy which disdain’d to rave, Even when they smote her, in the hope to save.
Yet she betray'd at times a gleam of sense ;
Nothing could make her meet her father's face, Though on all other things with looks intense
She gazed, but none she ever could retrace; Food she refused, and raiment; no pretence
Avail'd for either ; neither change of place, Nor time, nor skill, nor remedy, could give her Senses to sleep-the power seem'd gone for ever.
Twelve days and nights she wither'd thus; at last,
Without a groan, or sigh, or glance, to show A parting pang, the spirit from her past :
And they who watch'd her nearest could not know The very instant, till the change that cast
Her sweet face into shadow, dull and slow, Glazed o'er her eyes — the beautiful, the blackOh! to possess such lustre - and then lack ! (1)
(1) [" And then he drew a dial from his poke,
And looking on it with lack-lustre eye." - - As you Like It.] VOL. XVI.