[Are Love and Friendship Both an Empty Name?]

Are Love and Friendship both an empty name?

A gay romance, a fabling Poet’s dream?

Love may be so – its pleasure mingled pain,

Or felt or fancy’d only, in the brain:

For who would fondly cherish in his heart

The deadly anguish of a poison’d dart?

But Friendship, charming Friendship must be true,

Warm as the sunbeams, kind as ev’ning dew.

Its sweeter joys unmix’d with touching smart

Can reach without a wound the inmost heart.

The inmost heart glows with a harmless fire,

Nor heaves unquiet thoughts nor sighs respire.

If Love’s low thought bewilder’d fondly roves,

In search of fairy scenes and blissful groves,

O’er thorny wilds on Earth, and sterile plains,

No wonder disappointment pays its pains.

But Friendship, upward rising, points its aim )

To Heav’n, from where the sacred ardor came, )

And guiding Angels own the Kindred flame! )

The mutual wish, the mutual hopes, arise

To scenes of real bliss beyond the skies!

True Friendship there, all perfect and refin’d,

Immortal dwells in ev’ry happy mind!

Can Love to these sublimer joys pretend?

And thus refin’d and pure to Heav’n ascend?

’Tis Love no more – but Friendship’s brighter name:

The same its sacred spring, its end the same.

Text: STE 3/3/7, no. 12; also STE 3/3/1, p. 92, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; see also Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, p. 168.