Tag Archives: Mary Masters

Mary Masters, “On Beauty”


“On Beauty”

Sure, Beauty is a Light Divine,
That does with awful Lustre shine;
Rises more strong at ev’ry View,
And does the proudest Hearts subdue.
Where is the Man, that durst defy                                            5
The blooming Cheek and dazling Eye;
The lovely Shape, the winning Air,
And graceful Motions of the Fair?
Stoicks themselves could find no Arms
’Gainst Beauty’s bright tremendous Charms:                          10
This CATO by Example prov’d,
A rigid Stoick, yet he lov’d:
And both his am’rous Sons display’d
Their rival Flames for one fair Maid.
Beauty still triumphs o’er the Schools,                                       15
With all their Philosophick Rules;
She breaks their surest best Defence,
Reason, the feeble Guard of Sense.

All feel her Force, her Laws obey,
Compell’d to own her potent Sway.                                             20
But ’tis th’ unblemish’d Form I praise,
Where VIRTUE shines with equal Rays!
For Beauty, stain’d, has lost her Pow’r,
And, VIRTUE gone, she charms no more.


2 Lustre “The quality or condition of shining by reflected light; sheen, refulgence; gloss” (OED).

4 subdue “To bring (an enemy, people, territory, etc.) into subjection by conquest or physical force” (OED).

5 durst Past tense of “dare.”

9 Stoicks “One who practices repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, and patient endurance” (OED).

11 CATO Cato the Younger (95-46BCE), Roman statesman and famous follower of stoicism.  Cato’s intended first marriage to Aemilia Lepida was possibly motivated by love, though she ended up marrying Scipio, to whom she was previously betrothed (Britannica).

13-14 Masters is using Joseph Addison’s popular play, Cato, a Tragedy (1712) as her source here as Addison exercised “considerable literary license” by creating a plot line in which Cato’s sons, Portius and Marcus, vied for the love of a woman named Lucia.  See Nathan Wolloch, “Cato the Younger in the Enlightenment,” Modern Philology, vol. 106, no. 1 (August 2008), p. 67.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 60-61. [Google Books]

Edited by Itzel Rodriguez

Mary Masters, “The Vanity of Human Life”


“The Vanity of Human Life”


Ah! what is Life? how mutable and vain!
An Hour of Pleasure, and an Age of Pain.
Where changing Seasons are but vary’d Woes,
And with each Morning early Sorrow flows.
The busy Mind, with adverse Passions rent,                                 5
Still searches on, a Stranger to Content.
One Hour in gay and sprightly Mirth is pass’d,
The next with melancholy Shades o’ercast.
Alternate Joy, alternate Grief we know,
Yet scarce can tell, whence these Excesses flow.                         10
Elate to Day, we laugh and play and sing,
To-morrow sees a wretched, abject Thing.
With deep dejecting Cares we lie opprest,
And pensive Thoughts disturb the gloomy Breast.
Till other Thoughts revolve to our Relief,                                       15
And fansy’d Joys elude a real Grief.
Flatt’ring ourselves, we fond Ideas frame
Of Human Happiness, an empty Dream.
Yet Man, whom ev’ry Show of Bliss deceives,
Full Credit to the soothing Image gives.                                          20

We’ve found (at least we think so) what, alone,
Can give the longing Mind a Peace unknown :
Had we but That, ‘twou’d certain Ease restore,
Grant it, ye Pow’rs, and we desire no more.
Yet if kind Fate the wish’d-for Blessing grant,                                25
We’re still dissatisfy’d, and something want :
Then, with repeated Care and anxious Pain,
We seek another Trifle to attain ;
Our wonted Vigilance and Toil renew,
To gain the glorious Thing we have in view.                                   30
And, if we do the mighty Something get,
Again are we deceiv’d, ‘tis all a Cheat.
Nor will this second Disappointment prove
Severe enough, our Folly to remove.
Still with a discontented, restless Mind,                                          35
We search for That, which we can never find.
Erring before, we mourn’d; but, now, are sure
We know, what will a lasting Joy secure.

And did we err before? so err we now,
If we expect true Happiness below.                                                  40
Should Heav’n, indulgent, lavish all its Store,
And give so largely we could wish no more;
This surely would our wayward Fancy please,
And bring our weary, lab’ring Spirits Ease.
We should indeed be blest, should for a While,                              45
Our Hopes with transitory Rest beguile.
Forgetful of the Pow’r Supreme, that may,
When-e’er he pleases, snatch our Joys away.
Ah foolish Mortals, credulous and vain!
Prepare to meet the quick-returning Pain:                                       50
Still let us keep FUTURITY in View,
The Hand that gave the Gift, can take it too.

But cannot Gold afford a full Delight?
How the rich Metal glitters to the Sight!
O dazling Lustre! what would we not do,                                         55
What Toils not take, what Dangers not pursue,
For much of Thee, thou bright deluding Ill!
And in the warm Pursuit advance unweary’d still?

In search of Toys, we precious Moments waste,
For Wealth has Wings, and often flies in haste.                              60
The mighty Man, with ample Fortunes blest,
Of pond’rous Bags and stately Domes possest;
At Noon replete with all his Soul’s Desire,
At Night impov’rish’d by destructive Fire.
Such things may be, for such have often been,                              65
A thousand fatal Mischiefs lurk unseen.

The busy Merchant trafficks o’er the Main,
And rifles foreign Countries for his Gain.
Nor Earth nor Water from his Spoils are free,
To heap up Gold, he’ll compass Land and Sea.                              70
Behold him, waiting at the Ocean’s side,
While Ships from India break the flashing Tide:
Now one, long wish’d for with impatient Thought,
Is by his friendly Glass in Prospect brought.
Freighted with Gold and Silks of various Dyes,                              75
And in her Womb an Ivory Treasure lies.
See, what calm Seas, and what propitious Gales,
Support her Keel, and swell her flying Sails!
His Thoughts flow quicker, and his Heart beats high,
His Joys increasing as the Barque draws nigh.                               80
When lo! a sudden Change the Air invades,
And the Clouds thicken into sullen Shades:
Fierce Tempests beat, and angry Billows roar,
Distracting Sight to him that stands on shore.
Just ready to cast Anchor near the Coast,                                       85
Sad Terror to his soul! the Ship is lost.

Oh false and slipp’ry State of human Things!
What sad Distress one hapless Moment brings!

So JOB with more than orient Brightness drest,
The Pride and Worship of the wondring East;                               90
Sought by the Old, and honour’d by the Young,
The list’ning Ear paid Homage to his Tongue;
Princes arose, when he appear’d in Sight,
And the charm’d Eye beheld him with Delight.
For, Years he liv’d, with Health and Glory crown’d,                       95
And, like a God, dispens’d his Blessings round.
On either Hand, his Sons and Daughters sate,
And help’d to swell the Fullness of his State.
Yet this consummate Grandeur prov’d in vain,
For all was chang’d to Poverty and Pain,                                       100
His Honour blasted, and his Children slain.
Sprinkled with Dust, and prostrate on the Earth,
In Bitterness of Soul he curs’d his Birth.

Oh Impotence of Wealth! can ought avail,
Where Gold, Magnificence, and Empire fail?                                  105

Yes, something more substantial yet remains,
A Sovereign Med’cine for severest Pains:
When great Afflictions overwhelm the Mind,
When ev’ry Faculty’s to Grief resign’d;
When the whole Soul is sunk in deep Distress,                              110
FRIENDSHIP’S soft Pow’r can make its Sorrows less;
That nearest Emblem of indulgent Heav’n,
To sweeten Life’s predestin’d Ills, was giv’n.
A faithful Friend is our extremest Good,
The richest Gift, that ever Heav’n bestow’d.                                     115
When the prest Bosom heaves with weighty Cares,
This kind Companion half the Burden bears:
With healing Counsel mitigates our Woe,
Or wisely teaches how to bear the Blow.
Our Pleasures too the much-lov’d Friend divides,                          120
Adds Joy to Joy, and swells the happy Tides.

Pleas’d with my Subject, more than fond of Fame,
I much could say on this delightful Theme.
But ‘tis too copious and sublime a Strain,
More fit for YOUNG, or POPE’S unbounded Vein.                          125
The brightest Numbers that were ever penn’d,
Should celebrate the just and gen’rous Friend.
On me would partial Fortune this bestow,
‘Tis all the Happiness I’d ask below.
Yet, of a Treasure so immense possest,                                           130
Vainly we hope to be for ever blest.
Still are we govern’d by inconstant Fate,
And the first Turn may change our pleasing State:
May force us (tho’ with deep Regret) to part
From the dear, trusted Inmate of our Heart.                                   135

Oh Agony of Thought! what Breast can bear
So vast a Shock, or who the Grief declare?

DAVID alone the great Distress could paint,
And in fit Language form the just Complaint.
To his dear JONATHAN due Rites he paid,                                        140
He lov’d him living, and he mourn’d him dead.
Mourn’d him in such a graceful, moving Strain,
As all admire, and emulate in vain.
His sweet, pathetick Sorrows finely show,
The noblest Heights of Tenderness and Woe.                                  145
While sacred Leaves record the pious Theme,
A lasting Monument to Friendship’s Name.

Sometimes we more exalting Joys pursue,
And Pleasures charm us in a diff’rent View.
One beauteous Form has struck upon the Mind,                             150
A sweet Impression, casual, or design’d.
To one fix’d Centre all our Wishes move,
And the transported Heart rebounds with Love.
In that fond Passion we expect to meet
A full Content, a Happiness complete.                                               155
Then, with glad Toil and with incessant Care,
We strive to gain what seems so wond’rous fair.
Whilst the dear Object, we most highly prize,
Rejects our Vows, and mocks our promis’d Joys.
And sure we can no greater Torment prove,                                    160
Than cold Disdain repaid for constant Love.

But should our Passion meet a just Return,
And either Breast with mutual Ardor burn,
Some unforeseen Misfortune may divide,
Those faithful Hearts, which equal Love has ty’d.                           165
Then, who can dictate, or what Words can show
The agonizing Pain, the pungent Woe?

But we’ll suppose a milder Fortune still,
A present Pleasure and a distant Ill:
Our Wishes crown’d, the Prize obtain’d at last,                               170
The bright Reward of all our Labours past:
The Danger over, and absolv’d the Vow,
O, Joy too great! what can afflict us now?
Yet Time’s frail Glass is fill’d with flitting Sand,
And held too in a paralytick Hand.                                                    175
That soon may break, or That may quickly run,
Which holds a Life more precious than our own,
And then alas the Hour of Joy is done.

So JACOB, after being blest for Years,
Fair RACHEL mourn’d with unavailing Tears.                                   180
She, for whose Sake his Youth and Strength he gave,
And fourteen annual Circles liv’d a Slave;
Breathless and cold before her Lover laid,
Snatch’d from his Arms and number’d with the Dead.

And, thus, we see, ‘tis evidently plain,                                        185
What-e’er depends on Life, is weak and vain.
Gold is too fleeting, Friendship’s healing Pow’r
May be dissolv’d in one destructive Hour.
That Love’s fantastick Bliss is not sincere,
That Human Life is Hope, and Doubt, and Fear,                              190
A little Pleasure and a Load of Care.


1  mutable  “Liable or subject to change or alteration” (OED).

12  abject  “Cast off, rejected” (OED).

29  wonted  “Accustomed, customary, usual” (OED).

41  Store  “Sufficient or abundant supply” (OED).

46  beguile  “Deceive” (OED).

47  Pow’r Supreme  God.

62  Domes  “Stately buildings, mansions” (OED).

80  Barque  “A small ship” (OED).

89  JOB  Masters is paraphrasing chapters 1-3 from the Book of Job.

99  consummate  “Completed, perfected” (OED).

125  YOUNG  Edward Young (1683-1765), whose series of satires, The Universal Passion (1725-28) were much admired; POPE  Alexander Pope (1688-1744), whose Moral Essays began appearing in 1731.

138  DAVID  King of Israel (I Samuel 18:1-3).

140  JONATHAN  Son of Saul; see II Samuel 1:17-27 for David’s lament at the death of his friend.

163  Ardor  “Heat of passion or desire” (OED).

179-80  JACOB…RACHEL  Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban into working fourteen years to win Rachel in marriage.  Masters is paraphrasing Genesis 29:15-30.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 193-205.  [Google Books]

Edited by Hailey Franzese










Mary Masters, “To Clemene”


“To Clemene”

To the same, early in the Spring, occasioned by
her taking a journey, and my retiring into
the Country soon after.

Wheree’er I go, or whatsoe’er I do,
How pleasing ’tis to tell it all to you!
Hear then, auspicious Mistress of my Theme,
What now I dictate by a purling Stream.
The Grief, by your Departure first imprest,                                            5
Encreasing grew a Burden at my Breast:
Depriv’d of you, I sought no new Delight,
Nothing could please but Solitude and Night:
These suited best my melancholy Mind,
Which no Redress in length of time could find:                                     10
Pensive and sad, in secret still I griev’d,
Till soothing Scenes my anxious Pain reliev’d.

By a kind Friend oft courted, I repair
To breathe the Fragrance of the Country Air:
Here oft in Silence by myself I rove,                                                         15
In Paths perplex’d thro’ all the naked Grove,
Yet find a Pleasure in the sylvan Scene,
Void as it is of ornamental Green.
The Primrose oft I see, scented and pale
Adorn the rising Hill, or sinking Vale:                                                        20
Near it (for Nature stains with various Dies)
The Violet does in purple Odours rise,
Which with descending Hand I strait arrest,
Pluck the young Flow’rs, and plant them in my Breast:
And then reflect, were my CLEMENE here,                                              25
How soon would I the Vernal Pride transfer?
Pleas’d, if I could the early Buds convey
To Thee more sweet, to Thee more fair than they.
The Charms of Nature, wheresoe’er I go,
In lovely Negligence her Beauties show.                                                   30
A Flood transparent in Meanders glides,
The silver Swan upon its Surface slides.
Within its Current sports the scaly Breed,
And on its Bank up shoots the bending Reed:
Around, the verd’rous Meads extended lye,                                            35
And with new Graces catch my wand’ring Eye.

Sometimes I mark th’ Inclosures wooded Rows,
Whose swelling Banks luxurious growth disclose:
And on their sloping sides display to view,
A thousand Shrubs of diff’rent size and hue.                                            40
A Mind contemplative has Joy in these,
Whose various Figures can so justly please.
For while I view the Products of the Spring,
I find a GOD in the minutest Thing.
I grow inspir’d, and hardly can restrain                                                      45
The struggling Muse, that would begin again,
Prompts me again to view the Wonders round,
The genial Springs and ornamented Ground.
Bids me behold but with astonish’d Eyes
The bright Expansion of the vaulted Skies;                                               50
The radiant Planet, that enkindles Day,
And warms the World with his benignant Ray:
From Causes numberless I might explore
The CAUSE SUPREME, and as I write, adore.

Oh! had I Time and Judgment to indite,                                             55
The pious Muse should not in vain excite:
Her noble Dictates gladly I’d rehearse,
And dress my Theme in the sublimest Verse,
Expatiate on the Miracles I see,
And dedicate the finish’d Piece to Thee.                                                   60


 Title  Clemene  Although “Clemene” has not been identified, this name appears, either in title or text or both, in at least nine of Masters’ poems in this volume, which suggests that Clemene must have been an important friend.

10  Redress  “A remedy for or relief from troubles or loss” (now obsolete) (OED).

13  repair  “To return to or from a specified place or person; to come back again” (OED).

33  scaly Breed  Fish.

35  verd’rous Meads  Green fields.

44  I find a GOD in the minutest Thing  Possibly an allusion to Ephesians 4:6: “God…who is over all and through all and in all.”

54  The CAUSE SUPREME  An indirect allusion to God.

SOURCE:  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 34-38.  [Google Books]

 Edited by Tyrone C. Ellingberg

Mary Masters, “To the Sun, in a cold dry Season”


“To the Sun, in a cold dry Season”


PARENT of Light, whose ever-shining Ray,
Quickens the Globe, and kindles up the Day:
Collect thy Force, the Ardors all prepare,
To mitigate and warm the frigid Air:
Send forth, bright Prince, a more extensive Glow,                                      5
And let us feel thy chearing Pow’rs below.
Let humid Vapours leave their native Streams,
Exhal’d from thence by thy attracting Beams;
In rising Mists our Ev’ning Walks attend,
And kindly on the soft’ning Earth descend.                                                  10
Or else, invisibly expanding, rise
Mix into Clouds, and float along the Skies;
There all the Day in bright Suspension stay’d,
And beautiful by thy Reflection made;
Border’d with Gold, or ting’d with purple Hue,                                            15
Like rich Embossings on a Ground of Blue,
To the pleas’d Eye present a gaudy Scene,
Whilst the pure AEther heav’nly looks between.
Let nightly Show’rs refresh the thirsty Earth,
And daily Fervors give her Plants a Birth:                                                       20
Beneath our Feet the flow’ry Buds shall spring,
And on each side the wing’d Musicians sing:
Th’ indulgent Skies shall bless the Peasant’s Toil,
Call forth rich Crops, and make all Nature smile.

Then shall MECENAS grace his rural Seat,                                                     25
Healthful and happy in a warm Retreat:
The neighbouring Towns by his dear Presence blest,
Shall hail and welcome the illustrious Guest:
MARIA too the general Joy will share,
Applaud his Merit, and divide his Care:                                                         30
For like thy Beams, his gen’rous Virtues spread,
And shine benignant on the humble Head.


3 Ardors “Fierce or burning heat” (OED).

16 Embossings “To adorn with figures or other ornamentation in relief” (OED).

18 AEther “The clear sky; the upper regions of space beyond the clouds” (OED).

20 Fervors “Glowing condition, intense heat” (OED).

25 MECENAS Gaius Cilnius Maecenas (c.70 BC-c. 8 BC), Roman politician, counselor to the emperor Augustus, and wealthy patron of such poets as Virgil and Horace. His name became synonymous with ideal literary patronage by the eighteenth century (Encyclopedia Britannica).

29 MARIA Masters’s poetic name for herself.

32 benignant “Cherishing or exhibiting kindly feeling towards inferiors or dependants; gracious, benevolent (with some suggestion of condescension or patronage)” (OED).

 Source:  Poems on Several Occasions, (London 1733), pp. 52-54.  [Hathi Trust]

 Edited by Veronica Jardeleza

Mary Masters, “To my Self”


“To my Self”

Maria, now, leave all that thou hast lov’d,
And be, no more, by outward objects mov’d.
Quit the vain World, and its alluring Toys,
Its airy Pleasures, and fictitious Joys.
False are the Colours, high is the Deceit,                                                  5
And that, which fairest seems, the greatest Cheat.
Turn then, fond Maid, from the Delusion fly,
And guide thy future Aims by Reason’s Eye.
No more let Sense the radiant Queen depose,
Or the fair Monarch her just Sceptre lose.                                                10
Let Her mild Dictates bend thy stubborn Will,
And keep thy wild impetuous Passions still:
Let gentle Prudence her soft Pow’r exert,
And curb the Transports of thy foolish Heart.
Tempestuous Anger, and tumultuous Joy,                                               15
Both are uncomely, both the Health destroy.
These, and all others of the ardent Kind,
Are prejudicial to a peaceful Mind,
Then, shun extremes, and calmly bear thy Fate,
Not too dejected, nor too much elate.                                                       20
If thy kind Lord a prosp’rous Lot has giv’n,
Bless the Indulgence of all-bounteous Heav’n.
Or, if he fixes a severer Doom,
And should think fit to call his Favours home;
Humbly submit to the divine Decree,                                                        25
None but himself his wise designs can see.


 1 Maria Mary Masters’s poetic name for herself.

3 Toys “Matter of no importance; thing of no value” (Johnson).

12 impetuous “Violent; forcible” (Johnson).

13 Prudence “Wisdom applied to practice” (Johnson).

15 Tempestuous “Strong conflicting emotions” (OED); tumultuous “Violent commotion; irregularly and confusedly agitated” (Johnson).

17 ardent “Fiery; fierce” (Johnson).

20 dejected “Low spirited” (Johnson); elate “To heighten” (Johnson).

21 kind Lord Likely a reference to the Christian God

23 Doom Death.

 25 Decree “A law” (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 169-171.

 Edited by Kaili Ferreira

Mary Masters, “On Marinda’s Marriage”


“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.


 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

Mary Masters, “To Lucinda”


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?


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

Mary Masters, “The Female Triumph”


“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


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

Mary Masters, “On seeing a Lady…”



“On seeing a Lady with a new fashion’d Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up”

The Round-ear’d Cap (once worn with decent Pride)
And Velvet Bonnet both are thrown aside;
The Beaver, now, cock’d up with bolder Air,
And manly Habit, please the fickle Fair.
Yet, for Excuse, it justly may be said,                                                5
A Scheme with deepest Policy is laid:
Since, among Men, there is a stupid Race,
Who slight the Graces of the Female Face:
Since Fops so long have self-enamour’d been,
And view the Mirror with a raptur’d Mien;                                       10
They hope in this Disguise each Beau to charm,
And win th’ Apostates with a mimick Form.
With happy Art so justly they improve,
Sure all must now the Manlike Beauties love.


Title Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up The female riding habit dates from the 1660s, and was usually comprised of a jacket and waistcoat in imitation of men’s fashion at the time, with a similar cravat worn at the neck, a periwig and cocked hat on the head, and full skirts and petticoats. Criticism of this androgynous female fashion came from influential literary men like Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, John Gay, Samuel Richardson, and Horace Walpole through the first half of the century, and popular periodicals like the London Journal and the Gentleman’s Magazine inveighed against the practice in the 1730s.

1 Round-ear’d cap Headwear for women, made of linen or cotton, that curved around the head to cover the ears and edged with lace or ruffles; fashionable in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

3 Beaver…cock’d up A hat made of felted beaver fur, with the brim folded up; probably a reference to the popular tri-corner style hat.

9 Fops A derogatory term for a vain, dandyish man.

11 Beau A handsome, fashionable young man; here a synonym for “fop.”

12 Apostates Those who have abandoned their religious faith, political allegiances, or principles in general.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 157-8.

Edited by Bill Christmas