1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Leapor

John Duncombe, in The Feminiad (1754) 20-21 & n.



Now in ecstatic visions let me rove,
By Cynthia's beams, thro' Brackley's glimm'ring grove;
Where still each night, by startled shepherds seen,
Young LEAPOR'S form flies shadowy o'er the
Those envy'd honours Nature lov'd to pay
The bryar-bound turf, where erst her Shakespear lay,
Now on her darling Mira she bestows;
There o'er the hallow'd ground she fondly strows
The choicest fragrance of the breathing spring,
And bids each year her fav'rite linnet sing.
Let cloister'd pedants in an endless round
Tread the dull mazes of scholastic ground;
Brackley unenvying views the glitt'ring train,
Of learning's gaudy trappings idly vain;
For, spite of all that vaunted learning's aid,
Their fame is rival'd by her rural maid.
So, while in our Britannia's beechen sprays
Sweet Philomela trills her mellow lays,
We to the natives of the sultry line
Their boasted race of Parrots pleas'd resign:
For tho' on citron boughs they proudly glow
With all the colours of the watry bow,
Yet no soft strains are warbled by the throng,
But thro' the grove harsh discord they prolong,
Tho' rich in gaudy plumage, poor in song.

Mrs. Leapor, daughter to a Northamptonshire gardener, has lately convinced the world of the force of unassisted nature, by imitating and (perchance) equalling some of our most approved poets by the strength of her own parts, the vivacity of her own genius, and a perpetual pursuit after knowlege. And greater without doubt would have been her progress, if the length of her life had borne any proportion to the extent of her abilities.