1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hannah Cowley

Richard Fenton, "To Mrs. Cowley, on her first dramatic Production, the Comedy of the Runaway" 1776; Poems (1790) 1:18-19.



Come, lay this squeamishness aside,
The fact's too clear to be denied;
In spite of all your fine excuses,
To prove you stranger to the Muses;
And all this maidenly defence,
Of your unsullied innocence.
For see! Thalia, whom you chose
To fetch and carry billets doux,
Your post, from Constitution Row,
To this gallant with silver bow,
Like many a confidante, when paid,
Has all the privacy betray'd;
Who, artful hussy, all the while,
Beneath her mask was seen to smile;
As well convinc'd of what must follow
From such intriguing with Apollo;
But had you wish'd her to connive at,
And hush your lying-in in private,
The stifled birth too soon had blown
Itself, and blaz'd upon the town;
Whilst smit with ev'ry kindred feature,
Reflected from the pretty creature,
Proud of his claim, the god of wit
Had gloried to have father'd it.