ON MISS NIGHTINGALE.
The late Countess of Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron – the “Ada, fair daughter of my house and heart”—although distinguished by success in deeper studies, was not destitute of those inspirations which have made the name of Byron illustrious. The following unfinished and fragmentary verses relate to one whom she warmly admired, and who herself appreciated the brighter portions of the character of “Ada.” The anticipation of the career of Miss Nightingale, in the last stanza, is remarkable, more especially considering the “Portrait” was taken by Lady L. several years before the war with Russia was dreamt of, much less that Florence Nightingale should acquire to reputation of a ministering angel in connexion with her almost superhuman attentions to the sick and dying in the hospitals in the East. The stanzas were communicated for publication in The Morning Advertiser by a Lady to whose romantic attachment the late Countess intrusted the difficult task of writing the history of her life.
A PORTRAIT.—TAKEN FROM LIFE
I saw her pass, and paused to think!
She moves as one on whom to gaze
With calm and holy thoughts, that link
The soul to God in prayer and praise.
She walks as if on heaven’s brink,
Unscathed through life’s entangled maze.
I heard her soft and silver voice
Take part in songs of harmony,
Well framed to gladden and rejoice;
Whilst her ethereal melody
Still kept my soul in wav’ring choice,
‘Twixt smiles and tears of ecstacy.
And books she loves, and wisdom’s lore;
For there her thoughtful nature feels
The priceless treasure held in store,
Which to her earnest mind reveals
Those deeper truths that few explore,
And busy life too oft conceals.
I deem her fair—yes, very fair!
Yet some there are who pass her by,
Unmoved by all the graces there.
Her face doth raise no burning sigh,
Nor hath her slender form the glare
Which strikes and rivets every eye.
Her grave, but large and lucid eye,
Unites a boundless depth of feeling
With truth’s own bright transparency,
Her singleness of heart revealing:
But still her spirit’s history
From light and curious gaze concealing.
No flash of mortal hate or pride
From that deep liquid eye hath gleamed,
Where love and thought profound abide.
In slumber’s visions I have dream’d
That one like her, an angel’s bride,
I saw—o’er whom a halo beam’d!
‘Twixt heaven and earth she seems to soar
In peaceful, placid loveliness
Too pure for passion to adore;
Nor one vain thought does she express,
Or some there are would like her more,
But I should love and worship less;
In future years, in distant climes,
Should war’s dread strife its victims claim,
Should pestilence, unchecked betimes,
Strike more than sword, than cannon maim,
He who then reads these truthful rhymes
Will trace her progress to undying fame.
The Bristol Mercury 15 March 1856