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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Jemmy Dawson

William Shenstone (1714–1763)

COME listen to my mournful tale,

Ye tender hearts, and lovers dear;

Nor will you scorn to heave a sigh,

Nor need you blush to shed a tear.

And thou, dear Kitty, peerless maid,

Do thou a pensive ear incline;

For thou canst weep at every woe,

And pity every plaint, but mine.

Young Dawson was a gallant boy,

A brighter never trod the plain;

And well he lov’d one charming maid,

And dearly was he lov’d again.

One tender maid, she lov’d him dear,

Of gentle blood the damsel came,

And faultless was her beauteous form,

And spotless was her virgin fame.

But curse on party’s hateful strife,

That led the faithful youth astray,

The day the rebel clans appear’d—

O had he never seen that day!

Their colours and their sash he wore,

And in the fatal dress was found;

And now he must that death endure,

Which gives the brave the keenest wound.

How pale was then his true love’s cheek

When Jemmy’s sentence reach’d her ear!

For never yet did Alpine snows

So pale, or yet so chill appear.

With faltering voice she, weeping, said,

‘O Dawson! monarch of my heart,

Think not thy death shall end our loves,

For thou and I will never part.

‘Yet might sweet mercy find a place,

And bring relief to Jemmy’s woes,

O George! without a prayer for thee,

My orisons should never close.

‘The gracious prince that gives him life

Would crown a never-dying flame,

And every tender babe I bore

Should learn to lisp the giver’s name.

‘But though he should be dragg’d in scorn

To yonder ignominious tree,

He shall not want one constant friend

To share the cruel Fate’s decree.’

O then her mourning coach was call’d;

The sledge mov’d slowly on before;

Tho’ borne in a triumphal car,

She had not lov’d her favourite more.

She follow’d him, prepar’d to view

The terrible behests of law;

And the last scene of Jemmy’s woes

With calm and steadfast eye she saw.

Distorted was that blooming face,

Which she had fondly lov’d so long:

And stifled was that tuneful breath,

Which in her praise had sweetly sung:

And sever’d was that beauteous neck,

Round which her arms had fondly clos’d;

And mangled was that beauteous breast,

On which her love-sick head repos’d:

And ravish’d was that constant heart,

She did to every heart prefer;

For though it could its king forget,

’Twas true and loyal still to her.

Amid those unrelenting flames

She bore this constant heart to see;

But when ’twas moulder’d into dust,

‘Yet, yet,’ she cried, ‘I’ll follow thee.

‘My death, my death alone can show

The pure, and lasting love I bore:

Accept, O heaven! of woes like ours,

And let us, let us weep no more.’

The dismal scene was o’er and past,

The lover’s mournful hearse retir’d;

The maid drew back her languid head,

And sighing forth his name, expir’d.

Tho’ justice ever must prevail,

The tear my Kitty sheds is due;

For seldom shall she hear a tale

So sad, so tender, yet so true.