1748 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Leapor

Anonymous, "To the Reader" in Leapor, Poems (1748) Sig. A2-A2v.



The Author of the following Poems was taken from the World at the time when she first began to meet with Encouragement to print them, and, in Compliance with her dying Request, they are now published for the Benefit of her Father, who is desirous to make use of this Opportunity of returning his humble Thanks to the Subscribers for the Favour they have been pleased to shew him.

The short Account which has been given of Mrs. Leapor, with the Proposals for a Subscription, it is hop'd, will sufficiently apologize for the Defects that shall be found in this Collection. Had she lived to correct and finish these first Productions of a young unassisted Genius, certainly they would have been greatly improved, tho', as they now appear in their native Simplicity, they cannot surely but afford an agreeable Entertainment to the Reader, and serve as a convincing Proof of the common Aphorism, "Poeta nascitur, non fit."

Mrs. Leapor from a Child delighted in reading, and particularly Poetry, but had few Opportunities of procuring Books of any kind. The Author she most admired was Mr. Pope, whom she chiefly endeavoured to imitate; how far she succeeded in this, or any other of her Attempts, must be left to the Judgment of the Publick. And indeed if the Poems will not recommend themselves to the Reader, little Advantage is to be expected from any thing that can be said of them here; but, in Justice to the Memory of the Author, as well as for the Satisfaction of all those who have so chearfully and generously contributed to improve the best Legacy she could bequeath to her Father, we beg leave to inform them, that her Conduct and Behaviour entirely corresponded with those virtuous and pious Sentiments which are conspicuous in her Poems. She was courteous and obliging to all, chearful, good-natured, and contented in the Station of Life in which Providence had placed her. The generous and charitable Spirit that appeared in her was exerted upon all Occasions to the utmost of her ability, and was such as would have been ornamental in a much higher Sphere, to which in all Probability, if it had pleased God to spare her Life, her own Merit would have raised her.

Some of her Papers, a little time before her Death, were communicated to several Persons of Rank and of distinguished Taste and Judgment, who were pleased to express a great Satisfaction for their being printed, and by that means encouraging her to proceed in a Science so agreeable to herself, and entertaining to them; but her Friends are now left to lament her Loss, and that so great a Part of a short and valuable Life was spent in Obscurity.