Tag Archives: Mary Barber

Mary Barber, “The Prodigy. A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

[MARY BARBER]

“The Prodigy. A Letter to a Friend in the Country”

 

THO’ Rhyme serves the Thoughts of great Poets to fetter,
It sets off the Sense of small Poets the better.
When I’ve written in Prose, I often have found,
That my Sense, in a Jumble of Words, was quite drown’d.
In Verse, as in Armies, that march o’er the Plain,                                                                  5
The least Man among them is seen without Pain.
This they owe to good Order, it must be allow’d;
Else Men that are little, are lost in a Croud.

So much for Simile: Now, to be brief,
The following Lines come to tell you my Grief.                                                                     10
’Tis well I can write; for I scarcely can speak,
I’m so plagu’d with my Teeth, which eternally ake.
When the Wind’s in the Point which opposes the South,
For Fear of the Cold, I can’t open my Mouth:
And you know, to the Sex it must be a Heart-breaking,                                                       15
To have any Distemper, that keeps them from speaking.

When first I was silent a Day and a Night,
The Women were all in a terrible Fright.
Supplications to JOVE, in an Instant, they make—
“Avert the Portent—a Woman not speak!                                                                              20
Since Poets are Prophets, and often have sung,
The last Thing that dies in a Woman’s her Tongue;
O JOVE, for what Crime is Sapphira thus curst?
’Tis plain by her Breathing, her Tongue has dy’d first.
Ye Powers celestial, tell Mortals, what Cause                                                                        25
Occasions Dame Nature to break her own Laws?
Did the Preacher live now, from his text he must run;
And own there was something new under the Sun.
O JOVE, for the future this Punishment spare;
And all other Evils we’ll willingly bear.”                                                                                    30

Then they throng to my House, and my Maid they beseech,
To say, if her Mistress had quite lost her Speech.
Nell readily own’d, what they heard was too true;
That To-day I was dumb, give the Devil his Due:
And frankly confess’d, were it always the Case,                                                                     35
No Servant could e’er have a happier Place.

When they found it was Fact, they began all to fear me;
And, dreading Infection, would scarcely come near me:
Till a Neighbour of mine, who was famous for Speeching,
Bid them be of good Cheer, the Disease was not catching;                                                  40
And offer’d to prove, from Authors good Store,
That the like Case with this never happen’d before;
And if Ages to come should resemble the past,
As ’twas the first Instance, it would be the last.
Yet against this Disorder we all ought to strive:                                                                     45
Were I in her Case, I’d been bury’d alive.
Were I one Moment silent, except in my Bed,
My good natur’d Husband would swear I was dead.

The next said, her Tongue was so much in her Pow’r,
She was sullenly silent almost—half an Hour:                                                                        50
That, to vex her good Man, she took this Way to teaze him;
But soon left it off, when she found it would please him:
And vow’d, for the future, she’d make the House ring;
For when she was dumb, he did nothing but sing.

Quite tir’d with their Talking, I held down my Head:                                                      55
So she who sat next me, cry’d out, I was dead.
They call’d for cold Water to throw in my Face:
Give her Air, give her Air—and cut open her Lace.
Says good Neighbour Nevil, You’re out of your Wits;
She oft, to my Knowledge, has these sullen Fits:                                                                   60
Let her Husband come in, and make one Step that’s wrong,
My Life for’t, the Woman will soon find her Tongue.
You’ll soon be convinc’d—O’ my Conscience, he’s here—
Why what’s all this Rout?—Are you sullen, my Dear?

This struck them all silent; which gave me some Ease,                                               65
And made them imagine they’d got my Disease.
So they hasted away in a terrible Fright;
And left me, in Silence, to pass the long Night.

Not the Women alone were fear’d at my Fate;
’Twas reckon’d of dreadful Portent to the State.                                                                   70
When the Governors heard it, they greatly were troubled;
And, whilst I was silent, the Guards were all doubled:
The Militia Drums beat a perpetual Alarm,
To rouze up the Sons of the City to arm.
A Story was rumour’d about from Lambey,                                                                            75
Of a powerful Fleet, that was seen off at Sea.
With Horror all list to the terrible Tale;
The Barristers tremble, the Judges grow pale;
To the Castle the frighted Nobility fly;
And the Council were summon’d, they could not tell why;                                                  80
The Clergy in Crouds to the Churches repair;
And Armies, embattled, were seen in the Air.

Why they were in this Fright, I have lately been told,
It seems, it was sung by a Druid of old,
That the HANOVER Race to Great-Britain should come;                                                        85
And sit on the Throne, till a Woman grew dumb.

As soon as this Prophecy reach’d the Pretender,
He cry’d out, My Claim to the Crown I surrender.

 

NOTES:

fetter  “A restraint or check on someone’s freedom to act” (OED).

12  plagu’d  Plagued; “tormented” (OED);  ake  Ache.

16  Distemper  Ailment.

19  JOVE  Another name for Jupiter, Zeus’s counterpart in Roman mythology (New World Encyclopedia).

20  Avert  “Prevent or ward off” (OED);  Portent  “A sign or warning that a momentous or calamitous event is likely to happen” (OED).

23  Sapphira  Biblical reference to the wife of Ananias, “(Acts 5: 1–11); both died from shock when confronted by Peter about a case of fraud” (Oxford Reference).

26  Dame  “An elderly or mature woman” (OED).

27  Preacher Jesus.

 28  there was something new under the Sun  An inversion of  the biblical passage, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

31  beseech  “Ask (someone) urgently and fervently to do something” (OED).

34  give the Devil his Due  An idiom; “If someone or something generally considered bad or undeserving has any redeeming features these should be acknowledged” (OED).

36  Place  Position or place of work.

54  dumb  “Temporarily unable or unwilling to speak” (OED).

58  Lace  The cord or ribbon that laces up a woman’s corset.

64  Rout  “A disorderly or tumultuous crowd of people” (OED);  Sullen  “Bad-tempered and sulky” (OED).

75  Lambey  Lambay Island in the Irish Sea near Dublin.

77  list  Listen.

78  Barristers  Lawyers.

81  repair  “Go to (a place)” (OED).

84  Druid  “A priest, magician, or soothsayer in the ancient Celtic religion” (OED).

85  HANOVER Race  The British Royal house of Hanover (1714-1901) (Britannica).

87  the Pretender  “The Old Pretender,” James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales (1688-1766), son of King James II of England who reigned from 1685 to 1688 (Brittanica).

88  My Claim to the Crown I surrender  The Glorious Revolution (1688-89) saw James II deposed, replaced by William III and Mary II, and exiled to France. His son James, “The Old Pretender,” made several attempts to reclaim the British throne, but never succeeded (Brittanica).

Source:  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 22–27. [Google Books]

 Edited by Laura Hannibal

Mary Barber, “An Unanswerable Apology for the Rich”

[MARY BARBER]

“An Unanswerable Apology for the Rich”

 

All-bounteous Heav’n, Castalio cries,
With bended Knees, and lifted Eyes,
When shall I have the Pow’r to bless,
And raise up Merit in Distress?

How do our Hearts deceive us here!                                           5
He gets ten thousand Pounds a Year.
With this the pious Youth is able
To build, and plant, and keep a Table.
But then the Poor he must not treat:
Who asks the Wretch, that wants to eat?                                           10
Alas! to ease their Woes he wishes;
But cannot live without Ten Dishes:
Tho’ Six would serve as well, ’tis true;
But one must live, as others do.
He now feels Wants unknown before,                                                15
Wants still increasing with his Store.
The good Castalio must provide
Brocade, and Jewels, for his Bride.
Her Toilet shines with Plate emboss’d;
What Sums her Lace and Linen cost!                                                   20
The Cloaths that must his Person grace,
Shine with Embroidery, and Lace.
The costly Pride of Persian Looms,
And Guido’s Paintings, grace his Rooms.
His Wealth Castalio will not waste;                                                       25
But must have ev’ry thing in Taste.
He’s an OEconomist confest;
But what he buys, must be the best:
For common Use a Set of Plate;
Old China, when he dines in State;                                                      30
A Coach and Six, to take the Air;
Besides a Chariot, and a Chair.
All these important Calls supply’d,
Calls of Necessity, not Pride,
His Income’s regularly spent;                                                                35
He scarcely saves to pay his Rent.
No Man alive would do more Good,
Or give more freely, if he cou’d.
He grieves, whene’er the Wretched sue;
But what can poor Castalio do?                                                             40

Would Heav’n but send ten thousand more,
He’d give –– just as he did before.

NOTES:

1 Castalio Identity untraced; Barber’s pseudonym suggests a male form of “Castilian,” characteristic of the spring Castalia, sacred in antiquity to Apollo and the Muses as a source of poetic inspiration (OED).

10 Wretch “An unfortunate or unhappy person” (OED).

18 Brocade “A rich fabric with a raised pattern, typically with gold or silver thread” (OED).

23 Persian Looms Expensive textiles imported from areas that belonged to the Persian Empire, or modern day Iran

24 Guido’s paintings Probably a reference to Guido Reni (1575-1642), a prolific Italian Baroque painter whose works were popular in eighteenth-century England. Charles I, for example, had more paintings by Reni than any other artist in his collection. (England and the Italian Renaissance).

27 OEconomist Archaic spelling of economist.

30 China “Household tableware or other objects made from China or a similar material” (OED).

31 A Coach and Six “A carriage drawn by six horses” (OED).

32 Chariot “A stately or triumphal carriage” (OED); Chair “An enclosed chair for conveying one person, carried between horizontal poles by two porters” (OED).

39 sue “Appeal formally to a person for something” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 17-19. [Google Books]

 Edited by Nikolas Refanidis

 

Mary Barber, “Written from Dublin to a Lady in the Country”

[MARY BARBER]

Written from Dublin to a Lady in the Country

 

A Wretch in smoaky Dublin pent,
Who rarely sees the Firmament,
You graciously invite, to view
The Sun’s enliv’ning Rays with you;
To change the Town for flow’ry Meads,                                             5
And sing beneath the sylvan Shades.

YOU’RE kind in vain —It will not be —
Retirement was deny’d to me;
Doom’d by inexorable Fate,
To pass thro’ crouded Scenes I hate.                                                   10
O with what Joy could I survey
The rising, glorious source of Day!
Attend the Shepherd’s fleecy Care
Transported with the vernal Air;
Behold the Meadow’s painted Pride,                                                   15
Or see the limped Waters glide;
Survey the distant, shaded Hills,
And, penfive, hear the murm’ring Rills,

THRO’ your Versailles with Pleasure rove,
Admire the Gardens, and the Grove;                                                    20
See Nature’s bounteous Hand adorn
The blushing Peach, and the blooming Thorn;
Beheld the Birds distend their Throats,
And hear their wild, melodious Notes,

DELIGHTED, thro’ your Pastures roam,                                                25
Or see the Kine come lowing home;
Whose od’rous Breaths a Joy impart,
That sooths the Sense, and glads the Heart;
With pleasure view the frothing Pails
And silent hear the creaking Rails;                                                         30
See whistling Hinds attend their Ploughs,
Who never hear of broken Vows;
Where no Ambition to be great,
E’er taught the Nymph, or Swain, Deceit.

THUS thro’ the Day, delighted run;                                                        35
Then raptur’d view the setting Sun;
The rich, diffusive God behold,
On distant Mountains pouring Gold,
Gilding the beauteous, rising Spire,
While Crystal Windows glow with Fire;                                                  40
Gaze, till he quit the Western Skies,
And long to see his Sister rise;
Prefer the silent, Silver moon
To the too radiant, noisy Noon.

OR Northward turn, with new Delight,                                                   45
To mark what Triumphs wait the Night;
When Shepherds think the Heav’ns foreshow
Some dire Commotions here below;
When Light the human Form assumes,
And Champions meet with nodding Plumes,                                       50
With Silver Streamers, wide unfurl’d
And gleaming Spears amaze the World.

THENCE to the higher Heav’ns I soar,
And the great Architect adore ;
Behold what Worlds are hung in Air,                                                     55
And view ten thousand Empires there;
Then prostate to Jehovah fall,
Who into Being spake them all.

NOTES:

 1 pent “Another term for ‘pent-up’” (OED).

2 Firmament “The heavens or the sky” (OED).

6 Sylvan “Consisting of or associated with woods; wooded” (OED).

9 inexorable “Impossible to stop or prevent” (OED).

14 vernal “Of, in, or appropriate to spring” (OED).

19 Versailles A royal palace that began construction in 1661 and completed in 1715. It was the palace of the French monarch Louis XIV and it was a symbol of absolute monarchy.

 26 Kine “Cows collectively” (OED).

31 Hinds Farm laborers.

34 Swain “A country youth” (OED).

51 unfurl’d “Make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, especially in order to be open to the wind.” (OED)

57 Jehovah “A form of the Hebrew name of God used in some translations of the Bible” (OED).

 Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 101-104.

 Edited by Natasha Forsberg

[Mary Barber], “To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”

[MARY BARBER]

“To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”

 HOW gladly, Madam, would I go,
To see your Gardens, and Chateau;
From thence the fine Improvements view,
Or walk your verdant Avenue;
Delighted, hear the Thrushes sing,                                              5
Or listen to some bubbling Spring;
If Fate had giv’n me Leave to roam!
But Citizens must stay at Home.

WE’RE lonesome since you went away,
And should be dead –– but for our Tea;                                     10
That Helicon of female Wits;
Which fills their Heads with rhyming Fits!

This Liquor seldom heats the Brain,
But turns it oft, and makes us vain;
With Fumes supplies Imagination,                                              15
Which we mistake for Inspiration.
This makes us cramp our Sense in Fetters,
And teaze our Friends with chiming Letters.

I GRIEVE your Brother has the Gout;
Tho’ he’s so stoically stout,                                                            20
I’ve heard him mourn his Loss of Pain,
And wish it in his Feet again.
What Woe poor Mortals must endure,
When Anguish is their only Cure!

STREPHON is ill; and I perceive                                                      25
His lov’d Elvira grows so grave,
I fear, like Niobe, her Moan
Will turn herself and me to Stone.
Have I not cause to dread this Fate,
Who scarce so much as smile of late?                                         30

WHILST lovely landscapes you survey,
And peaceful pass your Hours away,
Refresh’d with various blooming Sweets;
I’m sick of Smells and dirty Streets,
Stifled with Smoke, and stunn’d with Noise                               35
Of ev’ry Thing ––– but my own Boys;
Thro’ Rounds of plodding doom’d to run,
And very seldom see the Sun:
Yet sometimes pow’rful Fancy reigns,
And glads my Eyes with sylvan Scenes;                                      40
Where Time, enamour’d, slacks his Pace,
Enchanted by the warbling Race;
And, in Atonement for his Stay,
Thro’ Cities hurries on the Day.

O! WOULD kind Heav’n reverse my Fate,                                  45
Give me to quit a Life I hate,
To flow’ry Fields I soon would fly:
Let others stay ––– to cheat and lye.
There, in some blissful Solitude,
Where eating Care should ne’er intrude,                                   50
The Muse should do the Country Right,
And paint the glorious Scenes you flight.

NOTES:

2 Chateau A stately residence or estate.

11 Helicon “Name of a mountain once sacred to the Muses from Greek mythology, often used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration” (OED).

17 Fetters “Anything that confines, impedes, or restrains; a check, restraint” (OED).

19 Gout “A specific constitutional disease occurring in fits, usually hereditary and in male subjects; characterized by painful inflammation of the smaller joints” (OED).

25 Strephon Common masculine name used for male lover in pastoral poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

26 Elvira A proper feminine name of Germanic origin (Online Dictionary).

27 Niobe “Of ancient Greek origin refers to an inconsolably bereaved woman, a weeping woman” (OED).

40 sylvan Relating to a wood or woods (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp.135-38. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ashley-Nicole Cortez