Tag Archives: tetrameter couplets

Mary Barber, “To a Gentleman, who had abus’d Waller”


“To a Gentleman, who had abus’d Waller”

I Grieve to think that WALLER’S blam’d,
WALLER , so long, so justly, fam’d.
Then own your Verses writ in Haste,
Or I shall say, you’ve lost your Taste.

Perhaps your loyal Heart disdains                                                   5
A Poet, who could take such Pains,
To tune his sweet, immortal Lays
To an usurping Tyrant’s Praise:
And, where you hate the Man, I see,
You never like his Poetry.                                                                    10
The Truth of this your Verse discovers;
So you abus’d the Conscious Lovers.

Tho’ in your Principles you glory,
The Muses are nor Whig nor Tory:
So from your Sentence they appeal,                                                  15
Nor will be judg’d by Party Zeal.
Whene’er a Poet’s to be try’d,
Let Pope hereafter be your Guide.
“Survey the Whole, nor seek slight Faults to find,
Where Nature moves, and Rapture warms the Mind.”                    20


Title Waller Edmund Waller (1606-1687), poet and politician. Waller’s “adoption of smooth regular versification prepared the way for the heroic couplet’s emergence by the end of the century as the dominant form of poetic expression” (Britannica).

1 Waller’s blam’d As a member of Parliament during the political turmoil of the 1640s, Waller famously switched sides, “first actively supporting the opposition to the monarchy” but then becoming “an active member of the Royalist cause” by 1643 (Britannica).

7-8 To tune…usurping Tyrant’s Praise In 1655, Waller celebrated his distant cousin, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of the Commonwealth from 1653, with his “Panegyrick to my Lord Protector” (Britannica).

12 Conscious Lovers A popular sentimental comedy by Richard Steele (c. 1671-1729). It was first staged on 7 November 1722 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

14 Muses The nine goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology (OED); Whig nor Tory References the two political parties that dominated British politics in the late seventeenth century.

18 Pope Alexander Pope (1688-1744), poet, translator, and satirist.

19-20 “Essay on Criticism” [Author’s note].  Barber quotes lines 235-236 from Part II here (Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism: Part II [London, 1711]).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 80-81. [Google Books]

Edited by Shivangi Ghissing


Anonymous, “To the Cottagers”


 “To the Cottagers”

Will you, ladies, think us rude,
If ourselves we thus intrude?
Will you pardon what is sent
With a friendly good intent?
Tho’ we own the mode is new,                                       5
Nor deny a selfish view.
Mop’d and starv’d with wintry weather,
Round the fire we crowd together;
To the window then we run,
Hoping still to see the Sun;                                                      10
But yon’ tow’ring mast and fane
Tell us still ‘twill blow and rain.
This the plea for pen that labours
For a peep at cottage neighbours.
Tell us, ladies, have you seen                                            15
Two fair nymphs, of gentle mien,
Tripping lightly o’er the green?
They frequent your usual way:
Did you see ‘em bathe to-day,
And emerge from Ribble’s arms,                                        20
Dripping, like the Grecian charms?
For they brought the Graces with ‘em,
Lately come to stay at Lytham!
If you know ’em, tell us true,
Own it, ladies,—are they you?                                             25
On one sad day, in luckless hour,
Of stormy wind, and pelting show’r,
We saw two scudding o’er the heath,
With flutt’ring lawn and panting breath;
We saw and griev’d, no cloak was there,                                    30
Nor broad umbrella had we near;
But, whilst we wail’d this sad disaster,
Wind, hail, and rain, descending faster,
We saw the witches take to flight,
And vanish sudden from our sight!                                              35
Had one sage author seen the deed,
How gladly he’d have chang’d his creed!
If you know ‘em, tell us true,
Own it, ladies,—were they you?
Lastly, ladies, should intrusion                                                      40
Not throw all parties in confusion,
’Twould make us proud to cross the gap,
And give your door a friendly rap;
Thrice happy should we deem our lot
To greet you in our humble cot;                                                     45
We then might saunter miles by dozens,
Or sit and chat of Yorkshire cousins.
And should you, kindly, so befriend us
As pardon, freely, soon to send us,
’Twould make the grateful hearts right glad                                 50
Of Frances, Charles, and Hugo Chad.


11 fane “A temple” (OED).

16 mien “The look, bearing, or conduct of a person, as showing character, mood” (OED).

20 Ribble “River rising in Yorkshire. It flows through Settle, Clitheroe Ribchester and Preston, before emptying into the Irish Sea between Lytham St. Annes and Southport, a length of 75 miles” (Settle Hydro).

21 Grecian charms In the sense of “persons or lives: fortified, protected, rendered invulnerable, etc., by a spell or charm” (OED).

22 Graces The “number of Graces varied in different myths, but usually there were three: Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness), and Thalia (Bloom). Frequently, the Graces were taken as goddesses of charm or beauty in general and hence were associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love” (Britannica).

23 Lytham Seaside town in the Borough of Fylde in Lancashire, England.

34 witches “The trials of the Pendle Hill witches in Lancashire in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history. The twelve accused lived in the area surrounding Pendle Hill in Lancashire and were charged with the murders of ten people using witchcraft” (J. T. Swain, The Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612 and 1634 and the Economics of Witchcraft).

36 “Description of Blackpool, p. 40; where the Lancashire witches are spoken of a “leetle” irreverently” [Author’s Note].  The reference is to a book by William Hutton titled A Description of Blackpool in Lancashire (1789). The cited passage reads: “He may safely carry his heart in and through the country, and find the witches perfectly harmless. He will be in no more danger than Don Quixote with the lovely Altisidora. Perhaps he would find a more hazardous passage through the little town of Ashbourn in the Peak, than the whole county of Lancaster. Though beauties, at a cursory view, may seem to abound, as in other places, yet the careful observer, upon a fair examination, will think with me, they are a “leetle” below mediocrity” (40).

51 Frances, Charles, and Hugo Chad Unable to trace.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 68, part II (October 1798), p. 884. [J. Paul Leonard Library]

Edited by Gabriela Pires

“Ambrosia,” “Pluto’s Triumph”


Pluto’s Triumph


‘Tis said a story never loses,
Which to rehearse no one refuses;
Or when (says Pope) from north to south,
It propagates from mouth to mouth;
For as it goes-–it always varies,                                                5
And from th’ original miscarries:
For instance now—the fate of Dido,
Of Daphne too—and Pastor Fido;
The angry moods of jealous Juno,
The loves of Proserpine and Pluto;                                         10
The amours of the mighty Jove,
With Juno, Calisto, above,
Asteria, Antiope below,
Are just what fables please to show:
They show how this one gain’d a lover,                                  15
And how that Goddess lost another;
How Venus from the waters sprung,
How musical a Syren’s tongue;
How Jupiter—(as they depute)
To win Europa turn’d a brute;                                                   20
AEgina, Danae, Leda won,
By strange disguises putting on;
In short, describe the forms of Heav’n,
To which and which most pow’r was given.
Such stories then if you believe,                                               25
And all the Poets do conceive,
You may believe—(that’s if you please)
Juno a justice and the moon a cheese.
However for romance’s glory,
I’ll tell you—what?—I’ll tell a story.                                            30
A story should (says Sancho Panza)
Begin with some old Latin stanza,
Or saying of the censor Cato,
Demosthenes, Cicero, or Plato;
Now such as this—“He that seeks evil,”                                     35
(So Sancho says)—“May meet the Devil.”
But this, and all their scraps of Greek,
To me appears but self-conceit;
Mere vanity;—an outward show,
Of what they would be thought to know:                                 40
However it appears like learning,
To those who are not so discerning,
And raises in the public eye,
A name of no small prodigy;
A good device—for those that can’t                                          45
Derive the requisites they want;
So by such authors as they quote,
They hope to gain a name of note:
For sure that man which takes from Ovid
A line or two,—can be no blockhead;                                        50
Certainly no;——(preserve my patience)
We say that man knows all the ancients;
And all who Greek or Latin uses,
We say are favoured by the muses;
And in right form the sentence places,                                      55
We say that man has all the graces.—
‘Tis so these seeming wise ones raise
A name of learning and of praise.
On others fame they build their own,
And live on vanity alone.——                                                       60
But to proceed—I’ll tell my story
In plainer terms than those before me,
Yet like a fabulist of yore be.
I mean by this expression,—you
Must (like the suppositious crew,)                                               65
Believe my fable to be true.
You’ll say that’s wrong,—’tis why I quote it,
Because I thought so when I wrote it;
‘Tis rather foolish—and I know it,
But my excuse is——I’m a poet:                                                  70
For poets have a prior claim,
To many faults that I could name;
Which are alleged by some to be
Superior taste in poetry;
Invention, fancy and the plot—-——                                          75
But this as poet I’ve forgot;
For ‘stead of telling Pluto’s tale,
I’ve written quite satyrical.
I say no more—the proem’s ended,
And if I’ve gave offence—’twas not intended.                          80
When Pluto from the dark abodes,
Ascended to his brother Gods,
He sought among the heav’nly race,
A Goddess worthy his embrace:
And as he wish’d to meet success,                                             85
(That nought should make his merit less)
To all he made a handsome present,
To this a peacock, that a pheasant,
And manag’d matters pretty decent.
But yet (oh strange !) he was neglected,                                    90
And by (which little he expected)
Celestial Goddesses rejected.——
Stung to the heart with this reproach,
He order’d instantly his coach.
“Here drive me to the Enna fields,                                             95
I’ll try (quoth he) what Enna yields;
A bachelor to rove and range,
Is as ridiculous as strange.”
Sated of Heav’n away was drove,
And gained at Enna, Proserpine his love.                                 100


Title Pluto The Roman equivalent of Hades. Pluto is the King of the Underworld.

3 Pope Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet and satirist. The lines alluded to are from The Temple of Fame (1715), ll. 473-74.

7 Dido In Greek mythology, Dido was the former Queen of Tyre, and the founder and Queen of Carthage. After she was forced to flee Tyre by her authoritarian brother, Pygmalion, she married Aeneas, a Trojan warrior on a heroic journey. Aeneas was, ultimately, prompted by the gods to leave Dido and continue on his quest, which led to Dido’s suicide (World History Encyclopedia).

8 Daphne Daphne was highly coveted by many men, including the god Apollo, whom she rejected. She prayed to be rescued, and was turned into a laurel tree (Britannica); Pastor Fido Probably a reference to Mirtillo, the faithful shepherd character in Giovanni Battista Guarini’s pastoral tragicomedy, Il pastor fido (1590). He takes the place of his lover, Amarilli, to be sacrificed, but is saved at the end of the play (Britannica).

9 Juno In Roman mythology, “she is the female counterpart to Jupiter….Ovid relates that Juno was jealous of Jupiter for giving birth to Minerva from his own head” (Britannica).

10 Proserpine The Roman equivalent of Persephone. Proserpine, or Proserpina, is the goddess of springtime and became Queen of the Underworld after her marriage to Pluto.

11 Jove Another name for Jupiter, “the chief ancient Roman and Italian god;” the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek tradition (Britannica).

12 Calisto A nymph in Greek myth, Callisto was one of Artemis’s huntresses who had sworn herself to celibacy. She had an affair with Zeus and, to punish her, she was turned into a “she-bear” and consequently killed by Artemis, who mistook her for a real bear (Britannica).

13 Asteria A Titan in Greek myth; “Asteria was loved by Zeus” and, to escape him, “she transformed herself into a quail, threw herself into the sea, and ultimately became the island of Delos” (Mythopedia); Antiope According to Greek legend, “her beauty attracted Zeus, who, assuming the form of a satyr, took her by force” (Britannica).

17 Venus Venus is the Roman goddess of beauty, love, and fertility.

18 Syren In Greek mythology, a syren (or siren), was a half-bird, half-woman creature who lured sailors to their demise through their seductive songs (Britannica).

20 Jupiter The Roman equivalent of Zeus and the counterpart of Juno (Britannica); Europa Europa was the princess of Phoenicia and so beautiful that Zeus abducted her, disguised as a white bull (Britannica).

21 AEgina A nymph in Greek myth; Zeus fell in love with her and, in the shape of a flame, carried her off to the island of Oenone (World History Encyclopedia); Danae According to Greek myth, an oracle prophesied that Danae’s son would one day kill her father, so she was confined to “a bronze tower.” Zeus, still, was entranced by her beauty and impregnated her under the guise of “a shower of gold” (Encyclopedia); Leda A figure in Greek myth who was seduced by Zeus when he took the form of a magnificent swan (World History Encyclopedia).

31-36 Sancho Panza…May meet the Devil Sancho is the fictional squire in Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605/1615). In Tobias Smolett’s 1755 translation, Sancho tells Quixote, “‘…the beginning of ancient tales, is not just what came into the head of the teller: no, they have always began with some saying of Cato the censor of Rome, like this of He that seeks evil, may he meet with the devil.'” (Book 3, Chapt. 6, p. 133).

33 Cato Marcus Porcius Cato (234 BCE-149 BCE), or Cato the Elder, “a Roman statesman, orator” and historian (Britannica).

34 Demosthenes (384 BCE-322 BCE) An ancient Greek statesman, who was widely known as one of the greatest orators of ancient Athens (Britannica); Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE-43 BCE) was a Roman “statesman, lawyer, and scholar” and is credited with being one of the best orators in ancient Rome (Britannica); Plato (c. 429 BCE-347 BCE) A prominent ancient Greek philosopher, best known for his teachings on the physical and metaphysical worlds, as well as his incredulous influence on modern Western philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

49 Ovid (43 BCE-17 CE) A Roman poet famous for his interpretations of classical myths and his technical influence on the development of Latin language and poetry (Britannica).

63 fabulist “One who relates fables or legends; a composer of apologues” (OED).

79 proem “A preface, preamble” (OED).

95 Enna Fields, “The Enna Fields was a beautiful place in the middle of the Island of Sicily, therefore called Umbilicus Siciliae: Here Pluto first alighted after his rejection in Heaven, where seeing a company of beautiful virgins gathering flowers, Proserpine, who was one, pleased him so much above the rest, as she excelled them in beauty, that he carried her away with him, and made her his wife” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: The London Magazine, or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer (London, 1776), pp. 608-9. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Madison Mc Elheney

Anonymous, “Sylvia on her Lover’s making the Campaign in Flanders” and “Dorothy,” “Sylvia Seconded”


“SYLVIA on her LOVER’s making the Campaign in Flanders”


Since honur call my love away,
Shall I inglorious cort his stay?
No—I am charm’d the yuth I love,
Ha’now the lot himself to prove,
A soldier stout, humane and free,                               5
Firm in the cause of liburty;
And heav’n furbid, thro’ me his fame
Be blasted with a coward’s name.
Chearful he leave the rural sports,
And honur’s mart, the camp, he corts;                        10
Wheer William, George his marshial son,
Do all the soldier’s danger run,
And base that Brittun sure mun be,
Who fears to face the enemy,
Led by so brafe a prince as he.                                     15
Although the world my Dicky range
His love is too sinsere to change;
Nor shall his absence make me stray,
No happier man shall find the way
To Sylvia’s hart; for he alone                                           20
Is monarc ther, and ther’s his throne.
Ye kindly pow’rs surround and shield
My champion in the hostil field.
Purtect him wher the bullets fly,
And place his gardian angel nye;                                   25
And when his country’s cause no more
Demands his sword, to Britain’s shore
Return my lover free from harms,
And bless me in his fathful arms.


Title the Campaign in Flanders Refers to England’s involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) (Britannica).

11 William, George his marshial son Prince William, later Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765) was the youngest son of George II (c. 1683-1760), reigned from 1727.  William became a major-general in 1742 and was known for his martial exploits in several battles during the War of the Austrian Succession (Britannica).

16 Dicky Nickname derived from Richard.

20 Sylvia Derived from the Latin “silva,” meaning “a wood, forest, woodland” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. XV (August, 1745), p. 439.

Edited by Zoe Crowe


“SYLVIA Seconded

Shame to the lass whose fatal beauty
Retains her lover from his duty.
An honest country girl am I,
Untaught to patch, or paint—or lye;
I never led assembly dance,                                                5
Nor ap’d the monkey-modes of France;
Nor ever fainted at a ball,
These are no tricks for artless Doll.
Yet, chearful, with the ruddy dawn,
I sing along the russet lawn;                                              10
I milk the cows in yonder dale,
And home I bring the smoaking pail;
Each has her charge, of sisters three,
And the sweet dairy falls to me.
Yet tho’ I tend my rural care,                                      15
Our shepherds tell me I am fair;
And Will, I fear, has found the art
To steal a corner in my heart;
Yet, if he should refuse his hand,
Now, when his country does demand,                              20
I’d scorn the man I lov’d before,
Nor ever own his courtship more.
Would maidens but of high degree
Submit to be advis’d by me,
They would employ each grace and charm,                       25
For freedom ev’ry breast to warm;
No courtier at their feet should sigh,
Who for his king refus’d to die;
No lover meet their kind applause,
His sword undrawn in Britain’s cause.                                   30
Now—all that’s dear is lay’d at stake,
Ye fair, your fond admirers wake!
Bid them draw forth th’ avenging steel,
Till rebel foes their rashness feel.
Then—when the glorious task is o’er,                                    35
And peace restor’d to Albion’s shore,
Inform them your consenting smile
Shall meet their vows—and crown their toil.


Title (See p. 439).  [Editor’s note]

4 patch, or paint Makeup and patches, or beauty spots (la mouches), were popularized by French court circles in the mid-eighteenth century (Gardiner Museum).

6 monkey-modes of France “Modes,” here likely meaning “a prevailing fashion, custom, practice, or style, esp. one characteristic of a particular place or period” (OED). In the eighteenth century, France was considered the predominant pioneer in European fashion and popularized lavish styles of formal dress, such as the grand habit, which stood in stark contrast with trends within England that favored “egalitarian styles and fabrics” (Textile History).

23 degree “A stage or position in the scale of dignity or rank; relative social or official rank” (OED).

30 Britain’s cause Britain entered the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) to prevent the French from capturing the Austrian Netherlands and to protect its territory in Hanover (National Army Museum).

36 Albion’s shore “Originally: the island of Britain. Later: the nation of Britain or England, often with reference to past times, or to a romanticized concept of the nation” (OED).

39 Staffordshire Ceremonial county in the English West Midlands.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. XV (October, 1745), p. 551.

Edited by Zoe Crowe

Anne Finch, “Cupid and Folly”


“Cupid and Folly”
Imitated from the FRENCH

Cupid, ere depriv’d of Sight,
Young and apt for all Delight,
Met with Folly on the way,
As Idle, and as fond of Play.
In gay Sports the time they pass;                                                                   5
Now run, now wrestle on the Grass;
Their painted Wings then nimbly ply,
And ev’ry way for Mast’ry try:
‘Till a Contest do’s arise,
Who has won th’ appointed Prize.                                                                 10
Gentle Love refers the Case
To the next, that comes in Place;
Trusting to his flatt’ring Wiles,
And softens the Dispute with Smiles.
But Folly, who no Temper knows,                                                                  15
Words pursues with hotter Blows:
‘Till the Eyes of Love were lost,
Which has such Pain to Mortals cost.
Venus hears his mournful Crys,
And repeats ‘em, in the Skys,                                                                          20
To Jupiter in Council set,
With Peers for the Occasion met;
In her Arms the Boy she bears,
Bathing him in falling Tears;
And whilst his want of Eyes is shown,                                                            25
Secures the Judges by her Own.
Folly to the Board must come,
And hear the Tryal and the Doom;
Which Cytherea loudly prays
May be as heavy as the Case:                                                                          30
Which, when All was justly weigh’d,
Cupid’s Wings now useless made,
That a Staff, his Feet must guide,
Which wou’d still be apt to slide;
This Decree at last was read,                                                                            35
That Love by Folly shou’d be lead.


1 Cupid “Roman god of love” (Britannica), often rendered in iconography as blindfolded or blind.

3 Folly “Foolishness…unwise conduct” (OED).

19 Venus Roman goddess of love, mother of Cupid (Britannica).

21 Jupiter Roman god of the sky (Britannica).

29 Cytherea Another name for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1714), pp. 135-136. [HathiTrust]

 Edited by Hannah Heiden

Priscilla Pointon, “Address to a Bachelor, On a delicate Occasion”


“Address to a Bachelor, On a delicate Occasion”

Inserted by Desire.

You bid me write, Sir, I comply,
Since I my grave airs can’t deny.
But say, how can my Muse declare
The situation of the Fair,
That full six hours had sat, or more,                                       5
And never once been out of door?
Tea, wine, and punch, Sir, to be free,
Excellent diuretics be:
I made it so appear, it’s true,
When at your House, last night, with you:                            10
Blushing, I own, to you I said,
“I should be glad you’d call a maid.”
“The girls,” you answer’d “are from home,
Nor can I guess when they’ll return.”
Then in contempt you came to me,                                        15
And sneering cry’d, “Dear Miss, make free;
“Let me conduct you—don’t be nice—
Or if a bason is your choice,
To fetch you one I’ll instant fly.”
I blush’d, but could not make reply;                                       20
Confus’d, to find myself the joke,
I silent sat till TRUEWORTH spoke:
“To go with me, Miss, don’t refuse,
Your loss this freedom will excuse.”
To him my hand reluctant gave,                                              25
And out he led me very grave;
Whilst you and CHATFREE laugh’d aloud,
As if to dash a Maid seem’d proud.
But I the silly jest despise,
Since well I know each man that’s wise;                                30
All affectation does disdain,
Since it in Prudes and Coxcombs reign:
So I repent not what I’ve done;
Adieu—enjoy your empty fun.


diuretics “Having the quality of exciting (excessive) excretion or discharge of urine” (OED).

17 nice “Precise or particular in matters of reputation or conduct” (OED).

18 bason Variation of “basin,” “a circular vessel of greater width than depth, with sloping or curving sides, used for holding water and other liquids, especially for washing purposes” (OED).

22 TRUEWORTH An allusion to Mr. Trueworth, a character in Eliza Haywood’s novel The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) who represents the ideal gentleman.

27 CHATFREE An allusion to Mr. Chatfree, a character in the same novel who represents a less-than-ideal gentlemanly figure.

28 dash “To destroy, ruin, confound, bring to nothing, frustrate, spoil” (OED).

32 Coxcombs “A vain, conceited, or pretentious man; a man of ostentatiously affected mannerisms or appearance; a fop. In later use usually in form coxcomb” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (1770), pp. 31-34. [Google Books]

Edited by Michelle Yu

Mary Barber, “Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”


“Written for my Son, and spoken by him in School, upon his Master’s first bringing in a Rod”

Our Master, in a fatal Hour,
Brought in this Rod, to shew his Pow’r.
O dreadful Birch! O baleful Tree!
Thou Instrument of Tyranny!
Thou deadly Damp to youthful Joys!                                   5
The Sight of thee our Peace destroys.
Not DAMOCLES, with greater Dread,
Beheld the Weapon o’er his Head.

That Sage was surely more discerning,
Who taught to play us into Learning,                                  10
By ‘graving Letters on the Dice:
May Heav’n reward the kind Device,
And crown him with immortal Fame,
Who taught at once to read and game!

Take my Advice; pursue that Rule;                                15
You’ll make a Fortune by your School.
You’ll soon have all the elder Brothers,
And be the Darling of their Mothers.

O May I live to hail the Day,
When Boys shall go to School to play!                                   20
To Grammar Rules we’ll bid Defiance;
For Play will then become a Science.


3 Birch “A bunch of birch-twigs bound together to form an instrument for the flagellation of school-boys and of juvenile offenders; a birch-rod” (OED).

7 DAMOCLES (fl. 4th Century BCE), courtier of Dionysious I of Syracuse (c. 430 BC-337 BC).  “Damocles, a flatterer, having extolled the happiness of Dionysius tyrant of Syracuse, was placed by him at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a hair, to impress upon him the perilous nature of that happiness.  Used by simile of an imminent danger, which may at any moment descend upon one” (OED).

9 Sage “See Locke upon education” [Author’s Note].  An allusion to John Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education(1693), a popular treatise on the education of gentlemen in that period.

11 ‘graving Letters on the Dice A playful approach to education using dice with letters on each side.

15 pursue that Rule “Bowing to his Master” [Author’s Note].

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp. 36-37.  [Google Books]

Edited by Ty Garvin

Margaret Cavendish, “The Pastime and Recreation of the Queen of Fairies in Fairy-Land, the Center of the Earth”


The Pastime and Recreation of the Queen of Fairies in Fairy- Land, the Center of the Earth”

Queen Mab, and all her Company,
Dance on a pleasant Mole- hill high,
To small Straw-Pipes, wherein great Pleasure
They take, and keep just Time and Measure.
All Hand in Hand; around, around,                                          5
They Dance upon this Fairy-ground.
And when she leaves her Dancing- Ball,
She doth for her Attendants call,
To wait upon Her to a Bower,
Where she doth sit under a Flower,                                         10
To shade her from the Moon-shine bright,
Where Gnats do sing for her Delight;
Some High, some Low, some Middle strain,
Making a Consort very plain:
The whilst the Batt doth flye about,                                          15
To keep in order all the Rout;
And with her Wings doth soundly pay
Those that make Noise, and not Obey.
A Dewy waving Leaf’s made fit
For the Queen’s Bathe, where she doth sit,                              20
And her white Limbs in Beauty shew,
Like a new-fallen Flake of Snow.
Her Maids do put her Garments on,
Made of the pure Light from the Sun;
Which do so many Colours take,                                              25
As various Objects Shadows make.
Then to her Dinner she goes straight,
Where all Fairies in order wait.
A Cover, of a Cob-web made,
Is there upon a Mushroom laid.                                                30
Her Stool is of a Thistle-down;
And for her Cup, an Acorn’s Crown:
Which of strong Nectar, full is fill’d,
That from sweet Flowers is distill’d.
Flyes of all sorts, both Fat and Good,                                       35
As Quails, Snipes, Patridg, are her Food.
Pheasants, Larks, Cocks, and any Kind,
Both Wild and Tame, you there may find:
And Amelets made of Ants Eggs new;
Of these high Meats she eats but few.                                       40
The Dormouse yeelds her Milk good store,
For Butter, Cheese, and many more.
This Milk makes many a fine Knack,
When they fresh Ants Eggs therein crack.
Pudding, and Custard, and Seed-Cake,                                     45
Her well- skill’d Cook knows how to make.
To sweeten them, the Bee doth bring
Pure Honey, gather’d by her Sting.
But for her Guard, serve grosser Meat;
Of Stall-fed Dormice they do eat.                                                50
When Din’d, she goes to take the Air
In Coach, which is a Nut-shell fair:
The Lining’s Soft and Rich within,
Made of a glistering Adder’s Skin;
And there six Crickets draw her fast,                                          55
When she a Journey takes in hast:
Or else two serve to pace a Round,
And trample on the Fairy-Ground,
In Hawks, sometimes, she takes delight;
Which Hornets are, most swift in flight:                                     60
Whose Horns, instead of Talons, will
A Flye, as Hawks a Patridg, kill.
But if she will a Hunting go,
Then she the Lizzard, makes the Doe;
Which is so swift and fleet in Chase,                                           65
As her slow Coach cannot keep pace.
Then on a Grashopper she’ll ride,
And gallop in the Forest wide.
Her Bow is of a Willow Branch,
To shoot the Lizzard on the Haunch.                                          70
Her Arrow sharp, much like a Blade,
Of a Rosemary Leaf is made.
Then home she’s called by the Cock,
Who gives her warning what’s the Clock.
And when the Moon doth hide her Head,                                   75
Their Day is done, she goes to bed.
Meteors do serve, when they are bright,
As Torches do, to give her light.
Glow-worms, for Candles, lighted up,
Stand on her Tabl’, while she doth Sup:                                      80
And in her Chamber they are plac’d,
Not fearing how the Tallow wast.
But Women, that Inconstant Kind,
Can ne’re fix in one place their Mind:
For she, impatient of long stay,                                                     85
Drives to the Upper-Earth away.


1 Queen Mab Queen of the Fairies in English folklore (Britannica).

9 Bower “A pleasant shady place under trees or climbing plants in a garden or wood” (OED).

16 Rout “a disorderly retreat of defeated troops” (OED).

31 Thistle-down “The light parts of thistle flowers that contain the seeds and that blow away in the wind” (Britannica).

54 Adder “A small venomous Eurasian snake” (OED).

62 Patridg Variant of Partridge; “a short-tailed game bird with mainly brown plumage, native to Eurasia” (OED).

70 Haunch “A buttock and thigh considered together, in a human or animal” (OED).

80 Sup Eat.

82 Tallow “A substance consisting of a somewhat hard animal fat; used for making candles” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems. Or, Several Fancies in Verse. The Third Edition (London, 1668), pp. 253-256 [Google Books]

Edited by Kayla Tinkelenberg

“R.”, “The Toasts. A Fable.”


“The Toasts. A Fable”


Satan one day (one night I mean,
For days in Hell are seldom seen)
At Pandemonium in state
Among his peers carousing sat,
To celebrate our parents fall                                                            5
In draughts of liquid fire and gall;
The toasts in bumpers flew around,
The palace roofs the toasts resound,
And all was noise, yet all unite
To pelt Heav’n with their blunted spite: —                                  10
Beelzebub gave his harlot PRIDE,
To match whose charms he Hell defy’d;
ENVY by Baäl then was given,
Foe to herself, to earth, and Heav’n;
AV’RICE was Mammon’s toast, a vice                                            15
Wou’d make a Hell of Paradise: —
My toast, cries Ashteroth, shall be
That Janus-prude, HYPOCRISY;
And mine, quo’ Belial, — IDLENESS,
Whose charms both fiends and men confess;                             20
Dear IDLENESS! to whom we owe
Myriads on myriads here below; —
Dagon gave FALSEHOOD, a mean jest,
Still mask’d, and cloath’d in rainbow-vest;
A will o’ th’ wisp, that leads astray,                                                25
A coward vice, that dreads the day; —
Moloch gave blood-stain’d CRUELTY, —
And Thammuz, INFIDELITY;
But to that toast they all objected
As one, no fiend there recollected,                                                30
(For, tho’ such weeds on earth may grow,
There are no infidels below);
Thammuz on this, — since change he must, —
Gave that sweet creature, Madam LUST:
In short, each demon, in his toast,                                                 35
Avow’d which fair he honour’d most.

The turn at length to Satan came
To bumper round his darling flame;
“I own that all your toasts,” he cried,
“Are beauties long approv’d and try’d,                                          40
But I’ll give one, in whom alone
The quintessence of Hell is shown,
INGRATITUDE! – of vices first,
Most infamous, and most accurst,
That fiend in grain! that hydra-pest!                                              45
(Behold her image on my breast)
To her Hell’s empire owes its birth,
To her I owe those swarms from earth;
When other vices rule the mind,
VIRTUE, by fits, may entrance find,                                                 50
But let INGRATITUDE bear sway,
Not VIRTUE’s shade dare cross her way;
E’en Hell itself, when she appears,
A more than double darkness wears; —
Then in a bumper toast the belle,                                                    55
As premier beauty here in Hell .”
The fiends aloud the toast proclaim,
And Hell rethunders with her name;
“INGRATITUDE! of vices first,
Most infamous, and most accurst.”                                                60


Title Toasts “Any person, male or female, whose health is proposed and drunk to” (OED).

1 Satan “In Christian theology: the proper name of the Devil, the supreme embodiment or spirit of evil” (OED).

3 Pandemonium “A place represented by Milton in Paradise Lost as the capital of hell, containing the council chamber of the Evil Spirits” (OED).

4 carousing “To drink a full bumper to his or her health” (OED).

6 draughts “The drawing of liquid into the mouth or down the throat; an act of drinking” (OED); gall “A wind of considerable strength” (OED)

7 bumpers “A cup or glass of alcoholic drink filled to the brim, esp. for a toast” (OED).

11 Beelzebub “In the Bible, the prince of the devils” (Britannica).

13 Baäl A Canaanite god; one of the seven princes of Hell.

15 AV’RICE “Inordinate desire of acquiring and hoarding wealth”(OED); Mammon The personification of avarice and greed in Milton’s Paradise Lost (Book I, line 678); sometimes figured as one of the seven princes of Hell (OED).

17 Ashteroth Variant of “Astaroth” who, along with Lucifer and Beelzebub, made up the evil trinity in Hell (The Occult Encyclopedia).

18 Janus Ancient Roman deity, “regarded as the doorkeeper of heaven, as guardian of doors and gates, and as presiding over the entrance upon or beginning of things” (OED).

19 Belial “The spirit of evil personified; used from early times as a name for the Devil or one of the fiends, and by Milton as the name of one of the fallen angels (Paradise Lost, Book I, line 490) (OED).

22 Myriads “A countless number of specified things,” here alluding to souls in Hell (OED).

23 Dagon “The national deity of the ancient Philistines; represented with the head, chest, and arms of a man, and the tail of a fish;” also referenced by Milton in Paradise Lost (Book I, line 462).

24 rainbow-vest Colourful clothing.

25 will o’ th’ wisp “A phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night over marshy ground” (OED).

27 Moloch “A Canaanite diety associated in biblical sources with the practice of child sacrifice” (Britannica).

28 Thammuz “A Syrian diety” and minor demon, also represented in Milton’s parade of demons in Hell (Paradise Lost Book I, line 446) (OED).

32 infidels “A disbeliever in religion or divine revelation generally” (OED).

36 Avow’d “To declare, affirm” (OED).

42 quintessence “The most perfect embodiment of a certain type of person or thing” (OED).

43 INGRATITUDE “Mortal sin is … ingratitude towards the most constant love; it is the adultery of the soul” (OED).

45 hydra-pest “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelations 13:1-10).

58 Rethunders “To make a loud, echoing sound like that of thunder; to resound. Frequently poetic” (OED).

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 46 (January 1776), pp. 229-230.  [J. Paul Leonard Library]

Edited by Alban Fenn

Aphra Behn, “On a Juniper-Tree, cut down to make Busks”


“On a Juniper-Tree, cut down to make Busks.”

Whilst happy I Triumphant stood,
The Pride and Glory of the Wood;
My Aromatick Boughs and Fruit,
Did with all other Trees dispute.
Had right by Nature to excel,                                             5
In pleasing both the tast and smell:
But to the touch I must confess,
Bore an Ungrateful Sullenness.
My Wealth, like bashful Virgins, I
Yielded with some Reluctancy;                                           10
For which my vallue should be more,
Not giving easily my store.
My verdant Branches all the year
Did an Eternal Beauty wear;
Did ever young and gay appear.                                         15
Nor needed any tribute pay,
For bounties from the God of Day:
Nor do I hold Supremacy,
(In all the Wood) o’er every Tree.
But even those too of my own Race,                                  20
That grow not in this happy place.
But that in which I glory most,
And do my self with Reason boast,
Beneath my shade the other day,
Young Philocles and Cloris lay,                                               25
Upon my Root she lean’d her head,
And where I grew, he made their Bed:
Whilst I the Canopy more largely spread.
Their trembling Limbs did gently press,
The kind supporting yielding Grass:                                    30
Ne’er half so blest as now, to bear
A Swain so Young, a Nimph so fair:
My Grateful Shade I kindly lent,
And every aiding Bough I bent.
So low, as sometimes had the blisse,                                 35
To rob the Shepherd of a kiss,
Whilst he in Pleasures far above
The Sence of that degree of Love:
Permitted every stealth I made,
Unjealous of his Rival Shade.                                                40
I saw ‘em kindle to desire,
Whilst with soft sighs they blew the fire:
Saw the approaches of their joy,
He growing more fierce, and she less Coy,
Saw how they mingled melting Rays,                                  45
Exchanging Love a thousand ways.
Kind was the force on every side,
Her new desire she could not hide:
Nor wou’d the Shepherd be deny’d.
Impatient he waits no consent                                             50
But what she gave by Languishment,
The blessed Minute he pursu’d;
And now transported in his Arms,
Yeilds to the Conqueror all her Charmes,
His panting Breast, to hers now join’d,                               55
They feast on Raptures unconfin’d;
Vast and Luxuriant, such as prove
The Immortality of Love.
For who but a Divinitie,
Could mingle Souls to that Degree;                                     60
And melt ‘em into Extasie.
Now like the Phenix, both Expire,
While from the Ashes of their fire,
Sprung up a new, and soft desire.
Like Charmers, thrice they did invoke,                                65
The God! and thrice new vigor took.
Nor had the Mysterie ended there,
But Cloris reassum’d her fear,
And chid the Swain, for having prest,
What she alas wou’d not resist:                                            70
Whilst he in whom Loves sacred flame,
Before and after was the same,
Fondly implor’d she wou’d forget
A fault, which he wou’d yet repeat.
From Active Joyes with some they hast,                              75
To a Reflexion on the past;
A thousand times my Covert bless,
That did secure their Happiness:
Their Gratitude to every Tree
They pay, but most to happy me;                                         80
The Shepherdess my Bark carest,
Whilst he my Root, Love’s Pillow, kist;
And did with sighs, their Fate deplore,
Since I must shelter them no more;
And if before my Joyes were such,                                        85
In having heard, and seen too much,
My Grief must be as great and high,
When all abandon’d I shall be,
Doom’d to a silent Destinie.
No more the Charming strife to hear,                                 90
The Shepherds Vows, the Virgins fear:
No more a joyful looker on,
Whilst Loves soft Battel’s lost and won.
With grief I bow’d my murmering Head,
And all my Christal Dew I shed.                                             95
Which did in Cloris Pity move,
(Cloris whose Soul is made of Love;)
She cut me down, and did translate,
My being to a happier state.
No Martyr for Religion di’d                                                      100
With half that Unconsidering Pride;
My top was on that Altar laid,
Where Love his softest Offerings paid:
And was as fragrant Incense burn’d,
My body into Busks was turn’d:                                              105
Where I still guard the Sacred Store,
And of Loves Temple keep the Door.


3 Boughs “An arm or large shoot of a tree, bigger than a branch, yet not always distinguished from it” (Johnson).

6 tast Variant for “taste.”

13 verdant Green.

17 God of Day Helios, Greek god of the sun.

44 Coy Modest.

56 Raptures “Ecstasy; transport; violence of any pleasing passion; enthusiasm; uncommon heat of imagination” (Johnson).

62 Phenix Phoenix. An ancient mythological bird associated with the worship of the sun. “As its end approached, the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames” (Britannica).

105 Busks Popular in women’s fashion as an undergarment during the 16th to early 20th century. “A strip of wood, whalebone, steel, or other rigid material attached vertically to the front section of a corset so as to stiffen and support it. Hence occasionally: the corset itself” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems Upon Several Occasions: with a Voyage to the Island of Love (London, 1684), pp. 19-24. [Google Books]

Edited by Alana Croft