Tag Archives: women

Anonymous, “Scattered Thoughts, by a Lady”

ANONYMOUS

“Scattered Thoughts, by a Lady”
Written in a long and painful Illness, after a disturbed and restless night.

While, child of sorrow, on my couch I lie,
And court sweet Sleep to seal my wakeful eye,
Still keenest anguish rankles at my heart,
And pains unceasing pierce each vital part.
I hear the joyless bird of omen sing,                                                          5
And at my casement flap his blacken’d wing;
While nightly spirits hover round my head,
Haunting with horrid thoughts my widow’d bed.
Oh, come, thou kindest nurse! come, gentle Sleep!
Seal with thy wings those eyes which wake to weep.                                10
Distill thy poppies on my unclos’d lid,
And on my pillow thy mild opiates shed.
Through night’s dark gloom I count the measur’d time,
And hear the knell of Death incessant chime:
The spider, spinning in some lonely notch,                                              15
Echoes the knell, and keeps th’ ill-omen’d watch.
My pensive pillow views my early life,
When in youth’s bloom I took the name of wife;
Scarce sixteen suns had dawn’d upon my years,
When I awoke to all a mother’s cares;                                                         20
While, at my breast, the tender blossom hung,
Ere the soft accent loos’d the lisping tongue,
Grief’s sharpest arrows pierc’d my gentle heart,
And wounded Nature felt her festering dart;
No love congenial to my own I found,                                                         25
But joyless pass’d night’s solitary round.
If lost in momentary sleep I lie,
What hideous forms appear to fancy’s eye!
With phantoms of a woe-worn feverish brain
I trembling start,—and wake to keener pain;                                            30
The spectres of delusion still in view,
And the night bag, my waking sense pursue.
My shorten’d sighs quick breathe around my room,
Where horrid darkness sheds a total gloom ;
Save one pale taper of a glimmering light,                                                  35
Which dimly twinkles through the shades of night,
Like a true friend, such silent sorrow shows,
And “waxeth pale”—through sympathy of woes.
Sweet Sympathy! in whate’er form you dwell,
Welcome! thrice welcome! to my tear-wash’d cell.                                   40
Ev’n when I hear the nightly shrill owl scream,
Some friend I think is near—some hope unseen.
Hope! did I say? thou joyful, blessed sound!
Where beams thy ray? where art thou to be found?
Long have I sought thy visionary hand;                                                      45
Lead me, dear phantom! to that blissful land!
That heaven of sure rest! that promis’d shore!
Where Peace shall dwell—and I shall weep no more!
Then strike, grim spectre! strike this yielding heart!
Strike down my sorrows with thy welcome dart.                                       50
And, when this “mortal coil” is laid in earth,
Then may my soul awake to Heaven’s new birth!
Then, like a pilgrim, view this rocky shore,
And rest—where thorns shall pierce my soul NO MORE!

NOTES:

14 knell “To ring (a bell); to ring slowly and solemnly, as for a death or at a funeral, to                       toll” (OED) ; chime Living near the church” [Author’s note].

32 night bag “A travelling bag used to carry things needed for the night” (OED).

35 pale taper A wax candle, in early times used chiefly for devotional or penitential   purposes” (OED).

51 mortal coil The bustle or turmoil of this mortal life” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (October 1787), pp. 914-15.

Edited by Arianna Ordonez

Mary Masters, “On Marinda’s Marriage”

MARY MASTERS

“On Marinda’s Marriage”

The Day is come, the mystick Knot is ty’d,
And HYMEN laughs upon the beaut’ous Bride.
Amidst her Maids, see gay MARINDA shine,
Newly conducted from the Sacred Shrine:
Great Heav’n, the wise Disposer of her Charms,                                  5
Consigns them to a happy Lover’s Arms:
Happiest among the Happy here below,
On whom th’ indulging Fates such Gifts bestow.

In fair MARINDA’s Person is exprest,
All that can most delight the Human Breast.                                       10
Motion its Charms in full Perfection spreads,
Where with a graceful Negligence she treads,
And Innocence, which might the First-born Pair
Adorn, displays itself in ev’ry Air.
Yet tho’ her Form has various Beauties join’d,                                     15
It yields in Beauty to her brighter Mind:
Amidst the Virgin Trains the first is nam’d,
For Wit, for Eloquence, and Virtue, fam’d,
When-e’er she speaks, who strives not to be near?
See warm’d Attention bend the list’ning Ear!                                        20
With still Surprise, see the fond Hearers gaze!
While ev’ry Heart beats Measure to her Praise:
Experienc’d Age may by her Youth be taught,
So sage Her Maxims, so sublime her Thought.

But lo! the happy Bridegroom now draws nigh,                           25
His Soul’s in Triumph and his Heart beats high:
A livelier Red inflames his am’rous Cheek,
And in his Voice the tend’rest Accents break:
With Looks erect, and with manly Air
He meets the softer Beauties of the Fair                                               30
The dedicated Nymph each Thought employs,
See from his Eyes the emanating Joys!
He seats himself with Pleasure by her side,
And looks transported on his blushing Bride.

Hail, wedded Pair! O may your Union prove                                  35
The brightest Pattern of Connubial Love!
And may this Day, select by smiling Fate,
Parent of Blessings in your Nuptial State,
Revolving often with the rolling Years,
Ne’er bring less Joy than what the present wears.                               40
Nor melancholy Cares, nor stormy Strife,
Trouble the Tenour of your future Life.

And when the tender Pledges of your Love
In Years to come MARINDA’S Form improve.
New Charmers (yet unborn) shall fire the Muse,                                 45
And endless Beauties endless Verse diffuse.

NOTES:

 2 HYMEN God of marriage.

13 First-born Pair Adam and Eve.

36 Connubial “Of or relating to marriage or a married couple”(OED).

Source: Mary Masters, Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp.17-20. [Google Books]

Edited by Donna Hang

Anonymous, “Reasons against deifying the Fair Sex”

 

ANONYMOUS

 “Reasons against deifying the Fair Sex.”
By another Hand.

Madam, I own I was so smit
What with your Beauty and your Wit,
That I began, which very odd is,
To think of making you a Goddess;
I talk’d of building you a Temple,                                       5
And off’ring up for an Ensample,
My own dear Heart in low Prostration,
With all the Cant of Adoration.
But thinking closely on the Matter,
I’ve since concluded, ‘twoud be better                            10
You’d be above such Vanity,
And keep to your Humanity.

For first, if you a Goddess be,
What will become of Mortal Me?
Cloath’d in your Majesty Divine,                                       15
I tremble to approach your Shrine.
At awful distance, lo ! I stand
With quiv’ring Lip and shaking Hand;
Or beg, on bended Knee, to greet
With humble Kiss your heav’nly Feet.                              20
For VENUS can’t descend to any
So low as romping like—Miss NANNY.

Again, consider, shou’d you rise
To the high rank of Deities;
You cannot long support your Reign,                                25
Nor long your Goddess-ship maintain:
For you must know, Deification
Is brought to pass by Incantation;
By Words of elevating Sound,
From Lips of Lover on the Ground                                     30
Utter’d in Raptures; Flames and Darts,
Altars, Worship, bleeding Hearts,
Sun, Venus, Quintessence of Worth,
Extasies, Heav’n, and so forth.
Now when you condescend to wed,                                  35
And take the Mortal to your Bed,
One Moon has scarce her Period crown’d;
Ere the rude Creature turns him round,
And with familiar Airs of Spouse,
(Reverse of what he wont to use)                                        40
Treats you like one of this our Earth:
You, conscious of Your heav’nly Birth,
Th’ irreverent Liberty disdain,
And tell the Wretch “He turns prophane;
At this th’ audacious Thing grows hot,                                45
Calls you Chit, Woman, and what not?
Mumbling, in direful retribution,
Some other Forms of Diminution
Malign; your Glories vanish quick,
Olympus turns to house of Brick.                                          50
Instead of Cupids and the Graces,
Plain earthly Betty takes their places:
Your Altars (which who won’t recoil at?)
Change to Tea-table or a Toilet:
The Goddess sinks to Flesh and Blood;                               55
While Husband in the cooing Mood,
Gives you a Buss, nor cares who sees it,
And fondly cries, “My Dear how is it?

Thus, Madam, not to keep you longer,
(For I can urge no Reasons stronger)                                    60
You plainly see, it is not fitting,
That you among the stars be sitting.
Wherefore, I think, you won’t desire
To leave our Species for a higher.
But be content, with what’s your due,                                   65
And what your Rivals think so too;
That, for soft Charms and Sense refin’d,
You shine the Pride of Woman kind.

NOTES:

Subtitle Unable to trace.

1 smit a poetic construction for “smitten”.

6 Ensample “An illustrative instance” (OED).

8 Cant “The special phraseology of a particular class of persons, or belonging to a particular subject; professional or technical jargon (Always depreciative or contemptuous)” (OED).

21 VENUS “The ancient Roman goddess of beauty and love (esp. sensual love), or the corresponding Greek goddess Aphrodite” (OED).

46 Chit “A person considered as no better than a child. ‘Generally used of young persons in contempt’ (Johnson); now, mostly of a girl or young woman” (OED).

50 Olympus “More fully Mount Olympus. The home of the greater gods and goddesses in ancient Greek mythology, traditionally identified with a mountain in northern Thessaly at the eastern end of the range dividing the Greek regions of Thessaly and Macedonia. Also in extended use: the home of the gods; heaven” (OED).

51 Cupids “Cupid, ancient Roman god of love in all its varieties, the counterpart of the Greek god Eros and the equivalent of Amor in Latin poetry”; Graces “Frequently the Graces were taken as goddesses of charm or beauty in general and hence were associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

52 Betty “A female pet name or familiar name, once fashionable (as in Lady Betty), but now chiefly rustic or homely” (OED).

57 Buss “A kiss, esp. a loud or vigorous one” (OED).

Source: Mary Masters, Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 206-10. [Google Books]

Edited by Lauren Cirina

Mary Masters, “To Lucinda”

MARY MASTERS

To Lucinda”

 LUCINDA, you in vain disswade
Two Hearts from mutual Love.
What am’rous Youth, or tender Maid
Could e’er their Flames remove?

What, if the Charms in him I see                                      5
Only exist in Thought:
Yet CUPID’S like the Medes Decree,
Is firm and changeth not.

Seek not to know my Passion’s spring,
The Reason to discover:                                            10
For Reason is an useless Thing,
When we’ve commenc’d the Lover.

Should Lovers quarrel with their Fate,
And ask the Reason why,
They are condemn’d to doat on That,                              15
Or for This Object die?

They must not hope for a Reply,
And this is all they know;
They sigh, and weep, and rave, and die,
Because it must be so.                                                20

LOVE is a mighty God you know,
That rules with potent Sway:
And, when he draws his awful Bow,
We Mortals must obey.

Since you the fatal Strife endur’d,                                     25
And yielded to his Dart:
How can I hope to be secur’d,
And guard a weaker Heart?

NOTES:

1 disswade Variation of dissuade “to give advice against” (OED).

7 CUPID’S The Roman God of love, son of Venus; often appears as an infant with wings carrying a bow, and arrows that have the power to inspire love in those they pierce (Encyclopædia Britannica); Medes Decree Refers to the laws of the Medes and Persians, “Medes” being an ancient Indo-European people whose empire encompassed most of Persia; in the Bible, “laws of the Medes” is a proverbial phrase meaning, “something that is unalterable” (OED).

21 LOVE The God of love, Cupid.

22 Sway “Power” (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London: T. Browne, 1733), pp. 151-53.  [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Brittany Kirn

[Charlotte Lennox], “A Song”

                                 [CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

                                         “A Song”

I.

In Vain I strive with Female Art,
To hide the Motions of my Heart;
My Eyes my secret Flame declare,
And Damon reads his Triumph there.

II.

When from his fond, his ardent Gaze,                             5
With Frowns I turn aside my Face;
My Cheeks with conscious Blushes glow,
And all my Soul’s Disorder show.

III.

Or when with seeming Scorn I hear
The Youth his tender vows prefer;                                    10
From my fond Breast reluctant steals
A sign, and all the Truth reveal.

IV.

Oh, Love, all-powerful  o’er the Mind,
Art thou, to rigid rules confin’d?
And must the heart that owns thy sway,                          15
That Tyrant Customs Laws obey?

V.

Oh! let me break the cruel Chain,
And freely own my tender Pain:
By harsh Restraint no longer sway’d,
Confirm whate’er my Eyes have said.                                 20

NOTES:

 1 Female Art Artifice; “the action of an artificer; the making of something by art or skill (OED).

4 Damon A male figure from Greek mythology that represents a good friend, mate, or cherub (Johnson).

16 Tyrant Customs Laws Laws that are based on traditional, or customary practice; habitual behavior. Often personified by women poets in this period as a “tyrant” because oppressive to women generally.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1747), pp. 56-60. [Google Books]

Edited by Larica Fantasia Jacko

Mary Masters, “The Female Triumph”

MARY MASTERS

“The Female Triumph”

 SWELL’D with vain Learning, vainer man conceives,
That ‘tis with him the bright Minerva lives;
That she descends to dwell with him alone,
And in his Breast erects her Starry throne:
Pleas’d with his own, to Female Reason blind,                                     5
Fansys all Wisdom in his Sex confin’d.
Proudly they boast of Philosophick rules,
Of Modes and Maxims taught in various Schools,
And look on Women as a Race of Fools.
But if CALISTA’s perfect soul they knew,                                                10
They’d own their Error, and her Praise pursue.
Centered in her the brightest Graces meet,
Treasures of Knowledge and rich mines of Wit.
Her Thoughts are beautiful, refin’d and new,
Polish’d her language and her Judgment true;                                    15
Each Word deliver’d with that soft address,
That as she speaks the melting Sounds we bless.
O! I could praise her without doing wrong,
Could to the subject raise my daring Song;
Were I enrich’d with PRIOR’s Golden Vein,                                           20
Her I would Sing in an exalted Strain;
Her Merit in the noblest Verse proclaim,
And raise my own upon CALISTA’s fame:
Her elevated Sense, her Voice, her Mien,
Her innate Goodness, and her Air Serene,                                          25
Should in my Lays to future Ages shine,
And some new Charm appear in ev’ry Line.

Fir’d with the Theme how great would be the Flight?
In what unbounded Numbers should I write!
Each Line, each Word, would more majestic grow,                             30
And ev’ry Page with finished Beauty glow.

But me alas the tuneful Nine disdain,
Scorn my rude Verse, and mock my feeble Strain:
No kind Poetick Pow’rs descend to fill
My humble breast, and guide my trembling Quill:                              35
My Thoughts, in rough and artless Terms exprest,
Are incorrect and negligently drest.
Yet sure my just ambition all must own
The well-chose Subject has my Judgment shown
And in the weak Attempt my great Design is known.                         40

NOTES:

2 Minerva Ancient Roman goddess of wisdom and war (www.newworldencyclopedia.org).

10 Calista Potential reference to a female contemporary or companion of the author; Latin feminine form of the Greek name ‘Calisto’ (www.theoi.com).

20 Prior Contemporary poet Matthew Prior (1664-1721), known in the period for his facility with meter and rhyme.

24 MienThe look, bearing, manner, or conduct of a person, as showing character, mood” (OED).

32 Tuneful Nine The Greek muses.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 8-10.

Edited by Taryn Osborne

Anonymous, “On seeing Saphira in a Riding Habit”

ANONYMOUS

 On seeing SAPHIRA in a Riding Habit

 WHEN Sapphira, in her sex’s garb we see,
The queen of beauty then she seems to be:
Now, fair Adonis, in this male disguise,
Or Cupid, killing with his mother’s eyes:
No stile of empire’s chang’d by this remove,                                                       5
Who seem’d the goddess, seems the god of love.

NOTES:

Title Riding Habit “A garment or outfit worn for horse riding; (in later use) a riding dress worn by women or girls, consisting of a long skirt and tight-fitting, double-breasted jacket” (OED).

3 Adonis In classical myth, a beautiful youth loved by both Aphrodite and Persephone. In extended usage, an Adonis is an extremely handsome young man (OCD).

4 Cupid, killing with his mothers eyes In classical mythology, the god of love and desire. He is often portrayed as the son of Venus, the goddess of love.

5 stile Variant spelling of the word “style.”

Source: The Gentlemans Magazine, vol. 36 (February 1766), p. 89.

Edited by Sierra Moreno

William Whitehead, “A Second Epilogue. Spoken by Mrs. Pritchard”

WILLIAM WHITEHEAD

 “A SECOND EPILOGUE. Spoken by Mrs. PRITCHARD”

 Stay, Ladies– Tho’ I’am almost tir’d to Death
With this long Part– and am so out of Breath-
Yet such a lucky Thought kind Heaven has sent,
That if I die for’t, I must give it Vent.
The Men you know are gone. And now, suppose,                                      5
Before our Lords and Masters are rechose,
We take th’ Advantage of an empty Town,
And chuse a House of Commons of our own.
What think ye, cannot we make Laws?– and then,
Cannot we too unmake them, like the Men?                                                   10
O place us once in good St. Stephen’s Pews,
We’ll shew them Women have their public Use.
Imprimis, they shall marry; not a Man
Past twenty-five, but what shall wear the Chain
Next, we’ll in earnest set about Reclaiming,                                                    15
For, by my Life and Soul, we’ll put down Gaming.
We’ll spoil their deep destructive Midnight Play;
The Laws we make, we’ll force them to obey;
Unless we let them, when their Spirits flag,
Piddle with us, ye know, at Quinze and Brag.                                                20
“I hope, my Dearest” says some well-bred Spouse,
“When such a Bill shall come before your House,
“That you’ll consider Men are Men- at least
“That you’ll not Speak, my Dear”– Not speak?– The Beast!
What, would you wound my Honour?– Wrongs like these-                           25
For this, Sir, I shall bring you on your Knees.
–Or, if we’re quite good-natur’d, tell the Man
We’ll do him all the Service that we can.
Then for ourselves, what Projects, what Designs?
We’ll tax, and double tax their nasty Wines;                                                   30
But Duty-free import our Blonds and Laces,
French Hoops, French Silks, French Cambricks, and- French Faces.
In short, my Scheme is not compleated quite,
But I may tell ye more another Night.
So come again, come all, and let us raise                                                       35
Such glorious Trophies to our Country’s Praise,
That all true Britons shall with one Consent,
Cry out, “Long live the Female Parliament!”
                                                THE END.

NOTES:

Title Mrs. Pritchard The actress Hannah Pritchard (1711-1768), who played the lead role in Creusa.

11  St. Stephen’s Pews The House of Commons sat in the pews of the royal Chapel of St. Stephen’s until 1834, when it was destroyed by fire.

12  Imprimis  First; “in the first place” (OED).

17  Midnight Play  Gambling.

20 Piddle “Depreciative. To work or act in an ineffectual or wasteful way; to mess about or around” (OED).

20  Quinze “A card game resembling pontoon” (OED).

20 Brag “A game at cards, essentially identical with the modern game of ‘poker'” (OED).

31 Blonds and Laces “A silk lace of two threads, twisted and formed in hexagonal meshes; orig. of the colour of raw silk, but now white or black. Now usually written blonde, as always in French” (OED).

32 French Hoops Hoop skirts, a rigid undergarment worn by women to hold their skirts or gowns in a fashionable shape away from the body.

32  French Silks  At this time, France produced some of the finest dress silks in Europe.

32  French Cambricks  “A kind of fine white linen” (OED); by the 1750s, the importation of French cambric cloth had become something of a political issue because of high tariffs.

32 French Faces Garment trimmings; with the available double entendre of French men.

 

Source: CREUSA, Queen of ATHENS. A TRAGEDY. As it is Acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane By His MAJESTY’s Servants. Written By Mr. William Whitehead. (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall; And Sold by M. Cooper in Pater-noster-Row. 1754). [Google Books]

 Edited by Casey Ticsay

Anonymous, “Song for an Amazon…”

ANONYMOUS

 “SONG for an AMAZON
Intended to have been sung after the complaining
Pastoral Ballad in Comus”

 Swains I scorn, who, nice and fair,
Shiver at the morning air,
Rough and hardy, bold and free,
Be the man that’s made for me.

Slaves to fashion, slaves to dress,                               5
Fops themselves alone caress,
Let them without rival be,
They are not the men for me.

He whose nervous arm can dart,
The javelin to the tyger’s heart,                                  10
From all sense of danger free,
He’s the man that’s made for me.

While his speed outstrips the wind,
Lovely wave his locks behind,
From his fantastic foppery free,                                 15
He’s the man that’s made for me.

Nor simpering smile, nor dimple sleek
Spoil his manly sun-burnt cheek,
By weather let him painted be,
He’s the man that’s made for me                                20

If false he prove my javelin can
Revenge the perjury of man,
And soon another, brave as he,
Shall be found the man for me.

NOTES:

 Title Comus A masque written by John Milton (1608-1674), first performed in 1634 and published in 1637.

1 Swains Young lovers or suitors.

6 Fops Men overly concerned with their appearance.

17 sleek “(Of hair, fur, or skin) smooth and glossy” (OED).

22 perjury “The offense of willfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1741), p. 45.

Edited by Robin Jang

[Charlotte Lennox], “The Language of the Eyes to Lady J—- F—-“

[CHARLOTTE LENNOX]

“THE LANGUAGE of the EYES to LADY J—– F——”

I.

IF forc’d by Tyrant Custom, we
The Anguish of our Souls conceal,
Our Eyes yet boast their Liberty;
Let them the tender Truths reveal;
In soft persuasive Glances speak our Grief,                                                                     5
And from that silent Language find Relief.

II.

Those sweet Betrayers of the Mind,
Can always lend their welcome Aid,
The Thoughts by harsh Restraint confin’d,
By them are all to View betray’d;                                                                                   10
The doubtful War, which Hope and Fear maintain’d,
Are by those charming Orators explain’d.

III.

See Anger in that sparkling Eye,
This in soft Shades of Sorrow drest;
Love, smiling Hope, and tender Joy,                                                                               15
In those inchanting Looks exprest;
The conqu’ring Eyes correct the Lover’s Heart,
And as they Smile or Frown, their Hopes and Fears impart.

IV.

Ye Fair, who strive with Darts to arm,
The languid Beauties of your Eyes,                                                                                 20
Of Isabellas learn to charm,
Like hers the ravish’d Soul surprize ;
Her Mind does all their glorious Beams dispense,
Bright as they are they owe their Rays to Sense.

NOTES:

1 Tyrant Custom Custom, defined as “a habitual or usual practice; common way of acting;…(either of an individual or of a community),” is often personified and blamed for certain forms of gendered oppression in eighteenth-century women’s writing (OED).

14 drest Pre-standardization spelling of “dressed.”

16 inchanting, exprest Pre-standardization spellings of “enchanting” and “expressed.”

20 Darts A word commonly used to refer to the arrows of Cupid, the Roman God of desire and attraction, which caused their targets to fall in love (Britannica.com).

22 Isabellas At age 15 Lennox became companion to Lady Isabella Finch, to whom this volume of poems is dedicated (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. Written by a Young Lady. London: S. Patterson, 1747. pp 26-27. [Google Books]

Edited by Hailey J. Scandrette