Constantia: or, The Man of Law's Tale, Modernized from Chaucer - Part 17

What time the wasting tide, and favouring blast,
The Fair on Britain's fated region cast;
Young A LLA then Northumbria's sons obey'd,
Whose substituted scepter Offa sway'd:
Illustrious Offa, who in worth excell'd
Whate'er the rolls of Saxon heroes held!
Alone Rodolphus, to the chief allied,
Excell'd in arms, but much excell'd in pride.

High on the brow of a commanding steep,
And full in prospect of the eastern deep,
His seat, addrest for war, as for repose,
And fix'd with elegance, brave Offa chose.
And now the hero, at his wonted hour,
Where trees o'er-arching form'd the Sylvan bower,
With Hermigilda sought the evening-air,
His bride, the fairest of the Saxon fair —
When from the main, and obvious to the view,
The apparent wreck their fix'd attention drew,
And quickly by innate compassion led,
Attended, to the neighbouring shore they sped.

C ONSTANTIA here sole mariner they found,
Admiring gaze, and silently surround:
Her eyes to Heaven the Grateful Charmer rais'd,
And with mute thanks of swift acceptance prais'd;
Then turn'd, with suppliant mien her arms extends,
And lowly at their feet for mercy bends.
Tho' Pagans, yet with native virtues blest,
The sentiment humane inform'd their breast:
They her sad narrative of woes enquire,
Prompt to redress, as courteous to desire.
With moving eloquence the Maid began,
And thro' a length of strange disasters ran:
What truth required, with artless grace reveal'd;
What prudence check'd, with graceful art conceal'd;
Pathetic gave her sufferings to the view,
But o'er her state a specious covering threw.
Sweet flow'd the accents of her gentle tongue;
Attention on the mournful music hung:
Each heart a sympathetic anguish felt —
Who saw that face, and could refuse to melt?
Great Offa's bride with answering woes distrest,
With streaming eyes and clasping arms carest:
Officious now to please, and prompt to aid,
They to the palace lead the Peerless Maid;
With feast, and song, and social aspect cheer,
And, as of more than mortal mould, revere.

Here, pleased with privacy, and long content,
Her days the Universal Charmer spent;
To office apt, and each obliging art,
She kindly stole the voluntary heart;
Adored around, a mental empire gain'd,
And still a Queen thro' every bosom reign'd.

What winning power on beauty's charm attends!
The rude it softens, and the bigot bends.
What precept from C ONSTANTIA 's lips can fail?
What truth so musical, and not prevail?
Persuasive while she pleads, the priest might learn,
The deaf find ears, and even the blind discern.
Soon thro' the house of generous Offa spread,
Her pleasing tongue its sacred influence shed;
And all the cordial proselytes of grace,
The Christian Law, the Law OF L OVE , embrace.
But ah, sweet Maid, how short is thy repose!
Nor hope that here thy scenes of suffering close;
Heaven speeds the planet that o'er-ruled thy birth,
And hastes to make one Angel, even on earth.
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