Captivity

To the Printer of the Sheffield Register.

SIR,

The following lines were lately repeated to me by a Lady, not more remarkable for her correct pronunciation, harmonious tone, and pathetic delivery, than for her other polite and elegant attainments, I then thought the verses beautiful, and have since procured them; but, upon a perusal, thought them rather incomplete. I imagined the conclusion to be too abrupt; and have added what will, from its inferiority, at once be perceived. The lines are at your service; and if by adding what appeared to me to be wanting, I have completed the design, I trust you and your Readers will excuse the execution.

Captivity,

A Serious Air

Supposed to be sung by the beautiful and unfortunate Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, during her confinement in the Tower of the Temple.

SEE Austria’s daughter, Gallia’s Queen,
With haggard face, and alter’d mein,
A captive wretch! unknown, unseen,
Amidst this sad captivity!

My foes prevail! My friends have fled!
These supplant hands to Heaven spread!
Heaven guard my unprotected head,
Amidst this sad captivity!

Victim of anguish and despair!
How grief has changed my flowing hair!*
How wan my wasted cheek with care!
Amidst this sad captivity!

Now fancy paints my murder’d lord!
I see th’ assassins blood-stain’d sword!
The lifeless trunk! – the bosom gor’d –
Amidst this sad captivity!

O King of Kings, I cry,
To thee I raise the streaming eye!
And heave the penitential sigh!
Amidst this sad captivity!

Father of Heaven! O hear my pray’r!
O make my sever’d Lord they care!
And fortify his breast to BEAR,
Amidst this sad captivity!

Thy all-protecting armour spread,
Around my guiltless infant’s bed, –
– For you, dear offspring! what my dread! –
Amidst this sad captivity!

O thou my helpless babes defend!
On thee alone they may depend,
Be thou their guardian, father, friend,
Amidst this sad captivity!

*The fine flowing auburn hair of the beautiful Princess — as eminent in beauty as in misfortune — has been since the confinement, turned to grey.


Printed in the Sheffield Register No. 305, 5 April 1793 (currently held in Sheffield University Library Special Collections)