Tag Archives: women

Anonymous, “The Picture”

ANONYMOUS

 “The Picture”

 

The rising front, by grandeur form’d,
The graceful brow serene,
The cheeks, by health and nature warm’d,
The lips of Cypria’s queen.

The more than sweetly dimpled chin,                                     5
The neck of polish high,
The arm of grace, the purple vein,
The lustre-darting eye.

The wavy ringlets of her hair,
In jetty blackness fine,                                                        10
Her skin most exquisitely fair,
Her nose the Aquiline.

The heaving softness of her breast,
Which trembling courts the touch,
I strive to paint,– but here I rest,                                              15
Lest I should paint too much.

NOTES:

1 front “Forehead, face” (OED); grandeur “The quality of being grand or imposing as an object of contemplation; majesty of appearance; sublimity, magnificence” (OED).

4 Cypria’s queen Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love; she came from the island of Cyprus, also known as Cypria during this period.

12 Aquiline “Eagle-like; esp. of the nose or features: Curved like an eagle’s beak, hooked” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (January 1766), p. 89.

Edited by Rhea Segismundo

Elizabeth Tollet, “The Portrait”

ELIZABETH TOLLET

 “The Portrait”

 Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella
Vita —- —– —- —– Hor.

On what wou’d I my Wishes fix?
‘Tis not upon a Coach and Six:
‘Tis not your rich Brocades to wear;
‘Tis not on Brilliants in my Ear.
‘Tis not to hurry up and down                                              5
To Tunbridge, Epson, Kensington;
Much less to rub my wakeful Eyes
At Basset, till the Sun shou’d rise:
Had I a Foe I meant to curse,
Nay, Rival, I’d not wish her worse,                                       10
For once, to tell you what’s the Lot
I like, I’ve told you what ‘tis not;
A lazy Life I first wou’d choose,
A lazy Life best suits the Muse:
A few choice Books of ev’ry Sort;                                         15
But none that meddle with the Court.
Small Thoughts for Cloaths; ‘tis all a Case:
They’ll neither mend nor spoil my Face.
Money! Enough to serve my Ends:
An Hackney to go see my Friends;                                       20
That I may laugh if Fops pass by,
And they not know my Livery,
Friends that in any Dress would come;
To whom I’d always be at home:
My Table still shou’d cover’d be,                                           25
On this Side Books, on that Bohea;
While we sip on, and ne’er debate
Matters of Scandal, or of State.
For Horace tells us, as you know,
‘Tis Sweet to fool it a propos.                                                  30

Dulce est desipere in loco.      Hor.

NOTES:

Epigraph Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella “Life may be laid out as if it were depicted on a votive tablet” (Horace, Satires, 2:1, ll. 3-4); Horace’s Satires were “published in 35 BCE” (Oxford Bibliographies).

6 Tunbridge Affluent town in Kent, England; Epsom Market town in Surrey; Kensington Royal palace in London.

8 Basset “An obsolete game of cards, resembling Faro, first played in Venice” (OED).

20 Hackney “A horse-drawn carriage which is let out for hire” (OED).

21 Fops “One who is foolishly attentive to and vain of his appearance, dress, or manners” (OED).

22 Livery “The dress, uniform, or insignia…by which a family, etc., may be identified” (OED).

26 Bohea “Name given in the early eighteenth century to finest kind of black tea” (OED).

29 Horace (65-8 BC), Latin lyric poet and satirist under the emperor Augustus.

30 a propos “To the purpose” (OED).

Postscript Dulce est desipere in loco “It is sweet to be silly at the appropriate time” (Horace, Odes, 4:12, l. 27).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions. With Ann Boleyn to King Henry VIII. An Epistle (London, 1755), pp. 33-34. [Google Books]

Edited by Donna Hang

Jonathan Swift, “The Furniture of a Woman’s Mind”

JONATHAN SWIFT

 The Furniture of a Woman’s Mind.

 Written in the Year 1727

 

A Set of Phrases learn’d by Rote;
A Passion for a Scarlet-Coat;
When at a Play to laugh, or cry,
Yet cannot tell the Reason why:
Never to hold her Tongue a Minute;                                    5
While all she prates has nothing in it.
Whole Hours can with a Coxcomb sit,
And take his Nonsense all for Wit;
Her Learning mounts to read a Song;
But, half the Words pronouncing wrong;                             10
Has ev’ry Rapartee in Store,
She spoke ten Thousand Times before,
Can ready Compliments supply
On all Occasions, cut and dry.
Such Hatred to a Parson’s Gown,                                           15
The Sight will put her in a Swoon.
For Conversation well endu’d;
She calls it witty to be rude;
And, placing Raillery in Railing;
Will tell aloud your greatest Failing;                                        20
Nor makes a Scruple to expose
Your bandy Leg, or crooked Nose.
Can at her Morning Tea, run o’er
The Scandal of the Day before,
Improving hourly in her Skill,                                                    25
To cheat and wrangle at Quadrille.

In chusing Lace a Critick nice,
Knows to a Groat the lowest Price;
Can in her Female Clubs dispute
What Lining best the Silk will suit;                                            30
What Colours each Complexion match,
And where with Art to place a Patch.

If chance a Mouse creeps in her Sight,
Can finely counterfeit a Fright;
So, sweetly screams if it comes near her,                               35
She ravishes all Hearts to hear her.
Can dext’rously her Husband teize,
By taking Fits whene’er she please:
By frequent Practice learns the Trick
At proper Seasons to be sick;                                                    40
Thinks nothing gives one Airs so pretty;
At once creating Love and Pity.
If Molly happens to be careless,
And but neglects to warm her Hair-Lace,
She gets a Cold as sure as Death;                                             45
And vows she scarce can fetch her Breath:
Admires how modest Women can
Be so robustious like a Man.

In Party, furious to her Power:
A bitter Whig, or Tory sow’r.                                                       50
Her arguments directly tend
Against the Side she would defend:
Will prove herself a Tory plain,
From Principles the Whigs maintain;
And, to defend the Whiggish Cause,                                          55
Her Topicks from the Tories draws.

O yes! If any Man can find
More Virtues in a Woman’s Mind,
Let them be sent to Mrs. Harding,
She’ll pay the Charges to a Farthing:                                         60
Take Notice, she has my Commission
To add them to the next Edition:
They may out-sell a better Thing;
So, Halloo Boys! God save the King.

NOTES:

 2 Scarlet-Coat  A reference to a soldier in the British army; from the seventeenth century onwards known as “redcoats” (OED).

 6 prates To “speak foolishly” or with “little purpose” (OED).

 7 Coxcomb  A “fool” or “simpleton” (OED).

 11 Rapartee  “A witty or sharp reply” (OED).

15 Parson’s Clergyman of the Anglican Church of England (OED).

 19 Raillery  “Abusive, unpleasant or unkind criticism” (OED).

 26 Quadrille  “A trick-taking card game for four players using forty cards” (OED).

 28 Groat  An English coin worth four pence that “ceased to be issued for circulation in 1662” (OED).

32 Patch  “A small piece of black material, typically silk or velvet, cut into a decorative shape and worn on the face, either for adornment or to conceal a blemish, esp. in the 17th and 18th centuries” (OED).

 37 teize Tease; to “worry”, “vex” or “annoy” (OED).

 43 Molly  “A girl, a woman, esp. a lower-class one” (OED).

 44 Hair-Lace  “A string or tie for binding the hair; a fillet, headband” (OED).

 50 Whig  “One faction of two opposing political parties in England, particularly during the 18th century. ‘Whigs’ was applied to those who claimed the power of excluding the heir from the throne” (Encyclopaedia Britannica); Tory  “One faction of two opposing political parties in England. ‘Tory’ applied to those who supported the hereditary right of James, duke of York, despite his Roman Catholic faith” (Encyclopaedia Britannica); sow’r  Variant of sour: “having a harsh, morose, or peevish disposition” (OED).

59 Mrs. Harding  Sarah Harding, widow of Dublin printer John Harding who was prosecuted for publishing Swift’s Drapier’s Letters in 1724.  At her husband’s death in 1725, Sarah took over the business and, despite being taken into custody briefly in 1725 herself, she continued to publish politically controversial work by Swift (James Woolley, “Sarah Harding as Swift’s Printer,” in Walking Naboth’s Vineyard: New Studies of Swift, pp. 164-77).

 60 Farthing “The quarter of a penny; the coin representing this value” (OED).

SOURCE: The Works of Jonathan Swift, vol. 2 (Dublin, 1751), pp. 248-50. [HathiTrust]

 Edited by Alejandra Pereda

Clara Reeve, “To my Friend Mrs. ——, On Her Holding an Argument in Favour of the Natural Equality of Both the Sexes”

[CLARA REEVE]

“To my Friend Mrs.——,
On Her Holding an Argument in Favour of the Natural Equality of Both the Sexes.
Written in the Year MDCCLVI.”

 

Silence best serves to disapprove
False reasoning in those we love.
Tho’ t’other day I held my tongue,
I thought you greatly in the wrong;
How could you so unfairly try’d                                                                         5
With no one present to decide,
Argue the best, that woman can
Pretend to triumph o’er a man?
I once was half of your opinion,
But now subscribe to their dominion.                                                                10
The same unchanging law that fixes,
Eternal difference of sexes,
Has for the wisest ends assign’d
Due bounds to either sex’s mind.
Your heart with argument elated,                                                                         15
Thinks both were equal when created,
And holds its own imagination,
That all depends on cultivation:
But to speak plainly, in reality
I don’t believe in this equality,                                                                                 20
But think that partial heav’n design’d,
To them the more capacious mind;
And that their brains, dame Nature’s college,
And best receptacles for knowledge.
Lend me my friend a while your hand,                                                                     25
I’ll lead you over classic land,
To hear what sages fam’d of old
On this nice subject shall unfold.
Thus much may serve for introduction,
Leading to pleasure and instruction.                                                                            30

Not every one can write that chuses,
But those invited by the Muses:
These are nine wit-inspiring lasses,
Who dwell about the hill Parnassus.
Their patron whom they serve and follow,                                                                   35
A beardless youth—the Greek Apollo—
Still lovely, active, young, and gay,
He drives the chariot of the day,
Teaches these girls polite behaviours,
For which they grant him certain favours:                                                                     40
(But modest ones you may be sure,
For they are virgins chaste and pure.)
He leads their concerts, which they fill
With wond’rous harmony and skill;
For he’s the prince of all musicians,                                                                                 45
Beside the greatest of physicians.
He finds them music for their frolics,
And cures their head-achs, nerves, and cholics.

From out the side of this fam’d mountain,
Rises a wit-inspiring fountain;                                                                                            50
Which murmurs music as it plays,
Laurels its banks produce and bays.
Here all the scholars drink their fill,
And then attempt to climb the hill;
(But first from trees the boughs they take,                                                                      55
And garlands for their heads they make;
Whose strange effects, to us a wonder,
Secure them from the power of thunder:)
With pain and care they clamber up,
And very rarely gain the top:                                                                                               60                     But if they reach the Muses seat,
They have assign’d them a retreat.
Apollo’s self records their name,
And gives it to the charge of Fame;
Who first displays to earth and sky,                                                                                   65
Then folds it up and lays it by,
In her immortal library.
Now comes our case.—The ancients tell us,
These nymphs were always fond of fellows;
For by their records it is clear,                                                                                              70
Few women ever have been there.
Not that it contradicts their laws,
But they assign the following cause;
The sacred Heliconian spring,
Of which old poets sweetly sing:                                                                                           75
(Tho’ modern writers only flout it,
Alledging they can do without it)
Produces very strange effects,
On the weak brains of our soft sex;
Works worse vagaries in the fancy,                                                                                        80
Then Holland’s gin, or royal Nancy.
In short, to what you will compare it,
Few women’s heads have strength to bear it.
See some with strong and lively fancies,
Write essays, novels, and romances.                                                                                      85
Others by serious cares and pains,
With politics o’erset their brains.
Children, some call themselves of Phoebus,
By virtue of a pun, or rebus.
Some much affect the strain satyric,                                                                                       90
And others all for panegyric.
In all, and each of these you find,
Strong markings of the female mind,
Still superficial, light and various;
Loose, unconnected, and precarious:                                                                                      95
Life and vivacity I grant,
But weight and energy they want;
That strength that fills the manly page,
And bids it live to future age.

Now as it oft hath been evinc’d,                                                                                          100
We do not love to be convinc’d;
So if conviction give you grief,
Restriction may afford relief.
Exceptions to all gen’ral rules,
Are still allow’d of in the schools:                                                                                                 105
And Phoebus’s favours to the fair
Are not impossible, tho’ rare.
In Fame’s great library, we’re told,
Some female names there are enroll’d;
Matrons of Greece, other of Rome,                                                                                              110
And some, to please you, nearer home:
Moderns there are, France brags of many,
And England shews as good as any.
See our Orinda swell the page,
Carter, and Lenox grace this age;                                                                                                  115
But leaving these consign’d to Fame,
Lusus Naturae is their name.
As some among the men we find,
Effeminate in form and mind;
Some women masculine are seen                                                                                                 120
In mind, behavior, and in mien:
For Nature seldom kindly mixes,
The qualities of both the sexes.
These instances are sometimes quoted,
As owls are shown, but to be hooted.                                                                                           125
Dare now to ope your eyes and see,
These truths exemplified in me.
What tho’ while yet an infant young,
The numbers trembled on my tongue;
As youth advanc’d, I dar’d aspire,                                                                                                    130
And trembling struck the heavenly lyre.
What by my talents have I gained?
By those I lov’d to be disdain’d,
By some despis’d, by others fear’d,
Envy’d by fools, by witlings jeer’d.                                                                                                    135
See what success my labours crown’d,
By birds and beasts alike disown’d.
Those talents that were once my pride,
I find it requisite to hide;
For what in man is most respected,                                                                                                 140
In woman’s form shall be rejected.
Thus have I prov’d to demonstration,
The fallacy of your oration.
(You need not let the fellows know it,
They’ll praise the wit, but damn the poet.)                                                                                      145
The point illustrated, my friend,
Brings my long story to its end.
When you have read it o’er at leisure,
Keep it—or burn it—at your pleasure.

NOTES:

Title Mrs. The addressee of this poem, Mrs. ——, is unknown, although the volume is dedicated to a Mrs. Stratford.

22 capacious “Able to hold much; roomy, spacious, wide” used here to mean men have “larger” intellectual capacity (OED).

32 Muses The nine Greek goddesses of “poetry, philosophy, and inspiration” (Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization).

 34 Parnassus “Mount Parnassus,” regarded as the “source of literary, esp. poetic, inspiration” (OED).

 36 Apollo Greek god of “poetry and music, the sun, and medicine” (OCCC).

 48 nerves “Disordered or heightened sensitivity; anxiety, fearfulness, tension, nervousness”; cholics Short for “melancholic,” referring to a state of “sadness or depression” (OED).

 49 fam’d mountain Parnassus [see line 34].

52 Laurels “To adorn with the leaves of the bay tree, which signified victory or poetic distinction” (OED).

 74 Heliconian “Mt. Helicon” was another home for the Muses, the “Vale of the Muses” (OCCC).

 80 vagaries “Wandering or devious journeys” (OED); fancy “Imagination” (OED).

 81 Holland’s gin Also known as “geneva or genever, a grain spirit from Belgium or the Netherlands flavored with juniper”; Nancy “Nants brandy or Nants wine,” produced in the Nantes region of France (OED).

 88 Phoebus Apollo [see line 36].

89 rebus A representation of a word using “pictures or symbols” (OED).

 90 satyric Archaic spelling of “satiric.”

 91 panegyric “Writing meant to praise a person or thing” (OED).

 96 vivacity “Intellectual or mental animation, acuteness, or vigour” (OED).

 105 still Originally “still’d,” likely printer’s error.

 114 Orinda Katherine Phillips (1631-1664), poet and translator of two plays, wrote under the alias “Orinda” in her letters.

115 Carter Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), famed translator and poet, would translate the works of Epictetus from Greek in 1758; Lenox Charlotte Lennox (1730-1804), author of The Female Quixote (1752).

117 lusus naturae Latin for “a freak of nature” (OED).

 120 mien “Look or manner” (OED).

 131 lyre A lyre is the favored instrument of Apollo (OCCC).

135 witlings Someone who pretends to be “more clever” than they are (OED).

 139 Reeve would revise her earlier views on women’s writing in her prefatory “Address to the Reader” published in this volume: “I formerly believed…my sex was an insuperable objection [to writing] …but now am convinced of the mistake, by daily examples to the contrary,” and she offers the collection as a “general apology” (xi).

143 fallacy “falsehood” (OED).

 Source: Original Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1769), pp. 4-11. [Google Books]

 Edited by: John Paul Castillo

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

John Pomfret, “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694″

JOHN POMFRET

 “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694”

 

As gentle STREPHON to his Fold convey’d
A wand’ring Lamb, which from the Flocks had stray’d
Beneath a mournful Cypress Shade, he found
COSMELIA weeping on the dewy Ground.
Amaz’d with eager Haste, he ran to know                                               5
The fatal Cause of her intemp’rate Woe;
And clasping her to his impatient Breast,
In these soft Words his tender Care exprest

STREPHON.

Why mourns my dear COSMELIA, why appears
My Life, my Soul, dissolv’d in briny Tears?                                               10
Has some fierce Tyger thy lov’d Heifer slain,
While I was wand’ring on the neighb’ring Plain?
Or has some greedy Wolf devour’d thy Sheep?
What sad Misfortune makes COSMELIA weep?
Speak, that I may prevent thy Grief’s Increase;                                       15
Partake thy Sorrows, or restore thy Peace.

COSMELIA.

Do you not hear from far that mournful Bell?
‘Tis for —– I cannot the sad Tydings tell.
O, whither are my fainting Spirits fled!
‘Tis for CAELESTIA—STREPHON, O, —she’s dead!                                    20
The brightest Nymph, the Princess of the Plain,
By an untimely Dart, untimely slain.

STREPHON.

Dead! ‘tis impossible. She cannot die,
She’s too Divine, too much a Deity:
‘Tis a false Rumour some ill Swains have spread,                                     25
Who wish perhaps the good CAELESTIA dead.

COSMELIA.

Ah! No, the Truth in ev’ry Face appears,
For ev’ry Face you meet’s o’erflow’d with Tears.
Trembling, and pale, I ran thro’ all the Plain,
From Flock to Flock, and ask’d of ev’ry Swain;                                            30
But each, scarce lifting his dejected Head,
Cry’d O, COSMELIA! O, CAELESTIA dead!

STREPHON.

Something was meant by that ill-boading Croak
Of the prophetick Raven from the Oak,
Which strait by Lightning was in Shivers broke:                                          35
But we our Mischief feel, before we see,
Seiz’d and o’erwhelm’d at once with Misery.

COSMELIA.

Since then we have no Trophies to bestow,
No pompous Things to make a glorious Show,
(For all the Tribute a poor Swain can bring,                                                  40
In Rural Numbers, is to mourn and sing;)
Let us beneath the gloomy Shade rehearse
CAELESTIA’s sacred Praise in no less sacred Verse.

STREPHON.

CAELESTIA dead! then ‘tis in vain to live:
What’s all the Comfort that these Plains can give                                        45
Since she, by whose bright Influence alone
Our Flocks increas’d, and we rejoic’d, is gone.
Since she, who round such Beams of Goodness spread
As gave new Life to ev’ry Swain, is dead.

COSMELIA.

In vain we wish for the delightful Spring.                                                 50
What Joys can flow’ry May, or April bring,
When she, for whom spacious Plains were spread
With early Flow’rs, and cheerful Greens, is dead?
In vain did courtly DAMON warm the Earth,
To give to Summer Fruits a Winter Birth.                                                        55
In vain we Autumn wait, which crowns the Fields
With wealthy Crops, and various Plenty yields:
Since that fair Nymph, for whom the boundless Store
Of Nature was preserv’d, is now no more.

STREPHON.

Farewel for ever then to all that’s gay:                                                       60
You will forget to sing, and I to play.
No more with cheerful Songs in cooling Bow’rs
Shall we consume the pleasurable Hours.
All Joys are banish’d, all Delights are fled,
Ne’er to return, now fair CAELESTIA’s dead.                                                     65

COSMELIA.

If e’er I sing, they shall be mournful Lays
Of great CAELESTIA’s Name, CAELESTIA’s Praise:
How good she was, how generous, how wise!
How beautiful her Shape, how bright her Eyes!
How charming all, how she was ador’d,                                                             70
Alive; when dead, how much her loss deplor’d!
A noble Theme, and able to inspire
The humblest Muse with the sublimest Fire.
And since we do of such a Princess sing,
Let ours ascend upon a stronger Wing;                                                             75
And while we do the lofty Numbers join,
Her Name will make their Harmony Divine.
Raise then thy tuneful Voice, and be the Song
Sweet as her Temper, as her Virtue strong.

STREPHON.

When her great Lord to foreign Wars was gone,                                       80
And left CAELESTIA here to rule alone,
With how serene a Brow, how void of Fear
When Storms arose, did she the Vessel steer?
And, when the Raging of the Waves did cease,
How gentle was her Sway in times of Peace?                                                     85
Justice and Mercy did their Beams unite,
And round her Temples spread a glorious Light.
So quick she eas’d the Wrongs of ev’ry Swain,
She hardly gave them Leisure to complain.
Impatient to reward, but slow to draw                                                                 90
Th’ avenging Sword of necessary Law:
Like Heav’n, she took no pleasure to destroy:
With Grief she punish’d, and she sav’d with Joy.

COSMELIA.

When God-like BELLEGER from War’s Alarms
Return’d in Triumph to CAELESTIA’s Arms,                                                         95
She met her Hero with a full Desire,
But chaste as Light, and vigorous as Fire:
Such mutual Flames, so equally Divine,
Did in each Breast with such a Lustre shine,
His could not seem the greater, her’s the less:                                                  100
Both were immense, for both were in Excess.

STREPHON.

O, God-like Princess! O, thrice-happy Swains!
While she presided o’er the fruitful Plains;
While she for ever ravish’d from our Eyes,
To mingle with her Kindred of the skies,                                                             105
Did for your Peace her constant Thoughts employ;
The Nymph’s good Angel, and the Shepherd’s Joy.

COSMELIA.

All that was Noble beautify’d her Mind;
There Wisdom sat, with solid Reason join’d;
There too did Piety, and Greatness wait,                                                            110
Meekness on Grandeur, Modesty on State:
Humble amidst the Splendors of a Throne;
Plac’d above all, and yet despising none.
And when a Crown was forc’d on her by Fate,
She with some pain submitted to be Great.                                                       115

STREPHON.

Her pious Soul with Emulation strove
To gain the mighty PAN’s important Love:
To whose mysterious Rites she always came,
With such an active, so intense a Flame,
The Duties of Religion seem’d to be                                                                     120
Not more her Care, than her Felicity.

COSMELIA.

Virtue unmixt, without the least Allay,
Pure as the Light of a Celestial Ray,
Commanded all the Motions of the Soul,
With such a soft, but absolute Controul,                                                             125
That as she knew what best great PAN would please,
She still perform’d it with the greatest Ease.
Him for her high Exemplar she design’d,
Like him, benevolent to all Mankind.
Her Foes she pity’d, not desir’d their Blood,                                                       130
And to revenge their Crimes, she did them good:
Nay, all Affronts, so unconcern’d she bore,
(Maugre that violent Temptation, Pow’r,)
As if she thought it vulgar to resent,
Or wish’d Forgiveness their worst Punishment.                                                135

STREPHON.

Next mighty PAN, was her illustrious Lord,
His high Vicegerent, sacredly ador’d:
Him with such Piety and Zeal she lov’d,
The noble Passion ev’ry Hour improv’d.
Till it ascended to that glorious Height,                                                              140
‘Twas next, (if only next) to infinite.
This made her so entire a Duty pay,
She grew at last impatient to obey,
And met his Wishes with as prompt a Zeal,
As an Archangel his Creator’s Will.                                                                       145

COSMELIA.

Mature for Heav’n, the fatal Mandate came,
With it, a Chariot of Etherial Flame,
In which, Elijah like, she pass’d the Spheres;
Brought Joy to Heav’n, but left the World in Tears.

STREPHON.

Methinks I see her on the Plains of Light,                                                     150
All Glorious, all incomparably Bright!
While the immortal Minds around her gaze
On the excessive Splendour of her Rays,
And scarce believe a human Soul could be
Endow’d with such a stupendous Majesty.                                                           155

COSMELIA.

Who can lament too much? O, who can mourn
Enough o’er beautiful CAELESTIA’s Urn!
So great a Loss as this deserves Excess
Of Sorrow; all’s too little, that is less.
But to supply the Universal Woe,                                                                           160
Tears from all Eyes, without Cessation flow:
All that have pow’r to weep, or voice to groan,
With throbbing Breast CAELESTIA’s fate bemoan:
While Marble Rocks the common Griefs partake,
And eccho back those Cries they cannot make.                                                   165

STREPHON.

Weep then (once fruitful) Vales, and spring with Yew;
Ye thirsty barren Mountains, weep with Dew.
Let ev’ry Flow’r on this extended Plain
Not droop, but shrink into its Womb again,
Ne’er to receive anew its yearly Birth;                                                                     170
Let ev’ry thing that’s grateful, leave the Earth:
Let mournful Cypress, with each noxious Weed,
And baneful Venoms in their place succeed.
Ye purling quer’lous Brooks, o’ercharg’d with Grief
Haste swiftly to the Sea for more Relief;
Then tiding back, each to his sacred Head,                                                            175
Tell your astonish’d Springs, CAELESTIA’s dead:

COSMELIA.

Well have you sung, in an exalted Strain,
The fairest Nymph e’er grac’d the British Plain.
Who knows but some officious Angel may
Your grateful Numbers to her Ears convey:                                                           180
That she may smile upon us, from above,
And bless our mournful Plains with Peace and Love.

STREPHON.

But see, our Flocks do to their Folds repair,
For Night with sable Clouds obscures the Air,
Cold Damps descend from the unwholesome Sky,                                              185
And Safety bids us to our Cottage fly.
Tho’ with each Morn our Sorrows will return,
Each Ev’n, like Nightingales, we’ll sing and mourn,
Till Death conveys Us to the peaceful Urn.

NOTES:

Strephon Stock pastoral name for a shepherd; Fold “A pen or enclosure for domestic animals, esp. sheep” (OED).

3 Cypress “A well-known coniferous tree…often regarded as symbolic of mourning” (OED).

4   Cosmelia Pastoral name for a woman.

20 Caelestia Pomfret’s poetical name for Queen Mary II, from “Caelestis” which means sky or heavenly (A Latin Dictionary).

20-22 “she’s dead!…untimely slain” Queen Mary II died on 28 December 1694 from smallpox.

25 Swains “Countrymen” (OED).

41 Rural Numbers That is, rural poetry.

54 Damon Stock pastoral name.

80 to foreign Wars was gone William III, Mary’s husband, was often gone handling affairs on the continent and left Mary to rule alone (Encyclopedia Britannica).

94 Belleger Pomfret’s poetical name for William III; in modern Dutch the word translates as “investor;” from War’s Alarms William III fought and squashed a Jacobite rebellion on the continent, and participated in the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697) against Louis XIV of France (Encyclopedia Britannica).

114-15 when a Crown was forced on her…submitted to be Great The Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II, Mary’s father. As a result of her supporting her husband William invading England, Mary and her father were estranged (Encyclopedia Britannica).

117 Pan The god of nature.

121 Felicity Happiness (OED).

133 Maugre “To defy, oppose” (OED).

137 Vicegerent “A person appointed by a king or other ruler to act in his place or exercise certain of his administrative functions” (OED).

145 Archangel “An angel of the highest rank” (OED).

148 Elijah A prophet who defended the worship of the Jewish God; in 2 Kings 2:1-11, Elijah is transported to heaven by a whirlwind.

166 Yew An ancient tree common in England; often planted in churchyards and symbolic of funerary and death.

Source: Poems upon Several Occasions, 7th edition (London, 1727), p. 48. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ceneca Jackson

 

 

 

 

John Gay, “The Shepherd’s Week IV. Thursday; or, the Spell”

JOHN GAY

 “The Shepherd’s Week IV. Thursday; or, the Spell

 

Hobnelia, seated in a dreary vale,
In pensive mood rehears’d her piteous tale,
Her piteous tale the winds in sighs bemoan,
And pining echo answers groan for groan.
I rue the day, a rueful day I trow,                                                                  5
The woful day, a day indeed of woe!
When Lubberkin to town his cattle drove,
A maiden fine bedight he hapt to love;
The maiden fine bedight his love retains,
And for the village he forsakes the plains.                                                    10
Return, my Lubberkin, these ditties hear;
Spells will I try, and spells shall ease my care.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
When first the year, I heard the cuckow sing,                                              15
And call with welcome note the budding spring,
I straitway set a running with such haste,
Deb’rah that won the smock scarce ran so fast.
‘Till spent for lack of breath, quite weary grown,
Upon a rising bank I sat adown,                                                                     20
Then doff’d my shoe, and by my troth, I swear,
There I spy’d this yellow frizled hair,
As like to Lubberkin’s in curl and hue,
As if upon his comely pate it grew.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,                                         25
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
At eve last Midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought,
I scatter’d round the seed on ev’ry side,
And three times in a trembling accent cry’d,                                                  30
This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
Who shall my true-love be, the crop shall mow.
I strait look’d back, and if my eyes speak truth,
With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,                                          35
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind.
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find;
I rearly rose, just at the break of the day,
Before the sun had chas’d the stars away;                                                     40
A-field I went, amid the morning dew
To milk my kine (for so should huswives do)
Thee first I spy’d, and the first swain we see,
In spite of fortune shall our true-love be;
See, Lubberkin, each bird his partner take,                                                     45
And canst thou then thy sweetheart dear forsake?
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
Last May-day fair I search’d to find a snail
That might my secret lover’s name reveal;                                                     50
Upon a gooseberry-bush a snail I found,
For always snails near sweetest fruit abound.
I seiz’d the vermine, home I quickly sped,
And on the hearth the milk-white embers spread.
Slow crawl’d the snail, and if I right can spell,                                                 55
In the soft ashes mark’d a curious L:
Oh, may this wondrous omen lucky prove!
For L is found in Lubberkin and Love.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.                                                      60
Two hazel-nuts I threw into the flame,
And to each nut I gave a sweet-heart’s name.
This with the loudest bounce me sore amaz’d,
That in a flame of brightest colour blaz’d.
As blaz’d the nut so may thy passion grow,                                                      65
For ‘twas thy nut that did so brightly glow.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
As peascods once I pluck’d, I chanc’d to see
One that was closely fill’d with three times three,                                          70
Which when I crop’d I safely home convey’d,
And o’er the door the spell in secret laid,
My wheel I turn’d, and sung a ballad new,
While from the spindle I the fleeces drew;
The latch mov’d up, when who shou’d first come in,                                     75
But in his proper person,--Lubberkin.
I broke my yarn surpriz’d the sight to see,
Sure sign that he would break his word with me.
Eftsoons I join’d it with my wonted slight,
So may again his love with mine unite!                                                             80
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
This Lady-fly I take from off the grass,
Whose spotted back might scarlet red surpass.
Fly, Lady-Bird, North, South, or East or West,                                                      85
Fly where the Man is found that I love best.
He leaves my hand, see to the West he’s flown,
To call my true-love from the faithless town.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.                                                       90
This mellow pippin, which I pare around,
My shepherd’s name shall flourish on the ground.
I fling th’unbroken paring o’er my head,
Upon the grass a perfect L is read;
Yet on my heart a fairer L is seen                                                                       95
Than what the paring marks upon the green.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
This pippin shall another tryal make,
See from the core two kernels brown I take;                                                    100
This on my check for Lubberkin is worn,
And Boobyclod on t’other side is born.
But Boobyclod soon drops upon the ground,
A certain token that his love’s unsound,
While Lubberkin sticks firmly to the last                                                             105
Oh were his Lips to mine but join’d so fast!
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
As Lubberkin once slept beneath a Tree
I twitch’d his dangling garter from his knee;                                                     110
He wist not when the hempen string I drew,
Now mine I quickly doff of inkle blue;
Together fast I tye the garters twain,
And while I knit the knot repeat his strain.
Three times a true-love’s knot I tye secure,                                                            115
Firm be the knot, firm may his love endure.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.
As I was wont, I trudg’d last market-day
To town, with new-laid eggs preserv’d in hay.                                                   120
I made my market long before ‘twas night,
My purse grew heavy and my basket light.
Strait to the ‘pothecary’s shop I went,
And in love-powder all my mony spent;
Behap what will, next Sunday after prayers,                                                       125
When to the ale-house Lubberkin repairs,
These golden flies into his mug I’ll throw,
And soon the swain with fervent love shall glow.
With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.                                                         130
But hold–our Light-foot barks, and cocks his ears,
O’er yonder stile see Lubberkin appears.
He comes, he comes, Hobnelia’s not bewray’d,
Nor shall she crown’d with willow die a maid.
He vows, he swears, he’ll give me a green gown,                                              135
Oh dear! I fall adown, adown, adown!

NOTES:

4 pining “The infliction or undergoing of physical or emotional pain” (OED).

5 trow “Belief; faith, trust” (OED).

8 bedight “To equip” (OED).

18 won the smock “Based on a superstition in eighteenth-century England that states if a young woman were to head into the fields early in the morning, she might hear the notes of a cuckoo. If a young woman were to succeed in hearing the notes of a cuckoo, she’s to take off her boot and look inside and find a hair the colour of the man they were to marry” (Charles Dickens, All The Year Round, 88).

21 doff’d   “To put off or take off from the body” (OED).

24 comely pate Beautiful head.

27 Midsummer “The day of the summer solstice (21 or 22 June), or the period around this” (OED).

28 hemp-seed   “The seed of an annual herbaceous plant” (OED).

43 swain “A country or farm labourer, frequently a shepherd” (OED).

49 May-day fair “May Day ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. May Day celebrations and festivities were once the highlight of the year in every town and village through Britain” (The Learn English Network).

69 peascodsThe pod or legume of the pea plant” (OED).

79 EftsoonsA second time, again” (OED).

91 pippin “A seed or pip of any of various fleshy fruits” (OED).

111 wist Knew (OED).

123 ‘pothecary’s shop A contraction of “apothecary” meaning “a store or shop of non-perishable commodities, spices, drugs, comfits, preserves” (OED).

134 crown’d with willow “Taken as a symbol of grief for unrequited love or the loss of a mate” (OED). The use of willow as a symbol of grief appears in Psalm 137 and influenced the custom of wearing a cap or crown made of willow twigs to communicate the grief suffered by forsaken lovers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (Paul Kendall, Trees for Life, 1).

135 green gown The Bride in Jan Van Eyck’s fifteenth-century painting, “Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride,” wears green as a symbol of her fertility while slouching in imitation of pregnancy, indicating her willingness to bear children. A green gown was the best choice for a bride’s gown because of its early symbolism (John Gage, Color and Culture, 1993).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1720), pp. 101-108.

 Edited by Imani Muhammad

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