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A Poem: To The Memory of Mrs. Oldfield

Oldfield's no more!-And can the Muse forbear,
O'er Oldfield's Grave to shed a grateful Tear?
Shall she, the Glory of the British Stage,
Pride of her Sex, and Wonder of the Age;
Shall she, who living charm'd th'admiring Throng,
Die undistinguish'd, and not claim a Song?
No. Feeble as it is, I'll boldly raise
My willing Voice to celebrate her Praise,
And with her Name immortalize my Lays.

Had but my Muse her Art to touch the Soul,
Charm ev'ry Sense, and ev'ry Pow'r controul.
I'd paint her as she was-the Form divine,
Where ev'ry lovely Grace united shine;
A Mein, majestick as the Wife of Jove,
An Air, as winning as the Queen of Love;
In every Feature rival Charms should rise,
And Cupid hold his Empire in her Eyes.

O! she was more than Numbers can express,
Creation's Darling in her fairest Dress.
A Form so charming, with such Beauties fraught,
As might have nigh excus'd the Want of Thought;
And yet a Mind with such Perfections stock'd,
As made the Beauties of her Form o'er look'd.
A Soul with ev'ry Elegance refin'd,
By Nature, and the Converse of Mankind,
Wit, which could strike assuming Folly dead;
And Sense-which temper'd every thing she said;
Judgment, which ev'ry little Fault could spy;
But Candor, which would pass a Thousand by.
That native Force-that Energy of Mind,
Which left the toiling Pedant far behind.
Such finish'd Breeding, so polite a Taste,
Her Fancy always for the Fashion past:
So sweetly serious, so discreetly gay,
None went unpleas'd, or unimprov'd away.
And yet so negligent she seem'd of Fame,
As if she thought Applause beneath her Aim.
Disdaining Flattery, she was still sincere;
Warm to approve, and modestly severe.
Whilst every social Virtue fir'd her Breast,
To help the Needy, succour the Distrest,
A Friend to all in Misery she stood.
And her chief Pride was plac'd in doing Good.

But say, ye Few, ye happy Few, who e'er
Enjoy'd the private Friendship of the Fair;
Who saw the Charmer in a nearer Light,
All open, free, and unreserv'dly bright;
Who felt the Raptures which her Smiles bestow'd,
And prov'd the Joys which from her Converse flow'd:
Oh speak her friendly, affable, and mild,
Brave, generous, firm, by no false Shows beguil'd.
With ev'ry Art and Talent form'd to please,
The Scholars Learning, and the Ladies Ease;
The Gay, the Grave, the Florid and Serene,
Mix'd in her Soul, and sparkling in her Mein.

Thrice happy Churchill! who her Love could gain,
For whom so many Thousands sigh'd in vain;
Whose wondrous Charms made every one her Slave
Dear to the Wise, the Witty, and the Brave.
And justly did she judge to place her Name
With thine, the greatest in the Books of Fame.
Thus join'd, Advantages to each accrue,
Renown to her, Beauty and Wit to you.
Renown should ever on the Fair One wait,
And Beauty be the Portion of the Great,
From such a Pair we well may hope to see
Another Malbro', Charles, appear in thee.

But now, my Muse, the arduous Task engage,
And show the Charming Figure on the Stage,
Describe her Look, her Action, Voice and Mein,
The gay Coquette, soft Maid, or haughty Queen,
So bright she shone in every different Part,
She gain'd despotick Empire o'er the Heart,
Knew how each various Motion to controul,
Sooth every Passion, and subdue the Soul:
As she, or gay, or sorrowful apears,
She claims our Mirth, or triumphs in our Tears:
Whilst from her Eyes delusive Sorrows flow,
Our Breasts are touch'd with undissembled Woe;
Or if Ambition calls her forth to Arms,
The Thirst of Glory every Bosom warms;
No Souls so senseless but what felt her Flame,
Nor Breast so savage but her Art could tame.
Ev'n the Pert Templer, and the City Prig,
Who come to Plays to show their Wit-or Wig.
The snarling Critick, and the sneering Beau,
Who neither Sense of Worth, or Manners know,
Aw'd by her Looks their Brutish Din forbear,
And for a while a little Human are,
So Orpheus charm'd the Savages of old,
And all Hell's Furies with his Harp controul'd.

Painters may sketch the Image of a Face,
And Sculptors Form and Attitude express;
Poets the Graces of the Mind relate,
And Hist'ry tells the Actions of the Great.
Still each wants something to compleat the Whole,
The Poet wants a Form, the Painter Soul.
But Oldfield all the Heroine display'd,
Show'd how she look'd, she mov'd, she wept, she pray'd
And was herself the Character she play'd,
When Cleopatra's Form she chose to wear,
We saw the Monarch's Mien, the Beauty's Air;
Charm'd with the S
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:13 min read

Richard Savage

Richard Savage was an English poet. He is best known as the subject of Samuel Johnson's Life of Savage, on which is based one of the most elaborate of Johnson's Lives of the English Poets. more…

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