SAID sister Agnes, Madam, take their word;
A remedy like this would be absurd,
If, like old death, it had a haggard look,
And you designed to get by hook or crook.
A hundred secrets you retain at ease;
Can one so greatly shock and you displease?
You talk at random, Agnes, she replied;
Now, would you for the remedy decide,
Upon your word, if you were in my place?
Yes, madam, said the nun, and think it grace;
Still more I’d do, if necessary thought;
Your health, by me, would ev’ry way be sought,
And, if required by you to suffer this,
Not one around would less appear remiss;
Sincere affection for you I have shown,
And my regard I’ll ever proudly own.
A THOUSAND thanks the Abbess gave her friend;
The doctors said: no use for them to send;
Throughout the convent sad distress appeared;
When Agnes, who to sage advice adhered,
And was not thought the weakest head around,
A kinder soul perhaps could not be found,
Said to the sisterhood, What now retains
Our worthy Abbess, and her will enchains,
Is nothing but the shame of pow’rs divine,
Or else, to what’s prescribed she would resign.
Through charity will no one take the lead,
And, by example, get her to proceed?
THE counsel was by ev’ry one approved,
And commendation through the circle moved.
IN this design not one, nor grave, nor old,
Nor young, nor prioress, at all seemed cold;
Notes flew around, and friends of worth and taste,
The black, the fair, the brown, appeared in haste;
The number was not small, our records say,
Not (what might be) appearance of delay,
But all most anxious seemed the road to show,
And what the Abbess feared, at once to know;
None more sincerely ‘mong the nuns desired,
That shame should not prevent what was required.
Nor that the Abbess should, within her soul,
Retain what might injuriously control.
NO sooner one among the flock had made
The step, of which the Abbess was afraid,
But other sisters followed in the train:
Not one behind consented to remain;
Each forward pressed, in dread to be the last;
At length, from prejudice the Abbess passed;
To such examples she at last gave way,
And, to a youth, no longer offered nay.
THE operation o’er, her lily face
Resumed the rose, and ev’ry other grace.
O remedy divine, prescription blessed!
Thy friendly aid to numbers stands confessed;
The friends of thousands, friend of nature too;
The friend of all, except where honour ‘s due.
This point of honour is another ill,
In which the faculty confess no skill.
WHAT ills in life! what mis’ries dire around,
While remedies so easy may be found!