1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jane Bowdler

Richard Graves, "On the Poems and Essays of a Lady lately deceased" Graves, Lucubrations (1786) 208-11.



Wilt thou these little volumes then peruse?
Hope not to wanton with some sportive Muse,
Or with some sprightly Novelist to rove,
Amidst the flowery labyrinths of love.
No; think some holy Vestal tunes the lyre,
In solemn strains true wisdom to inspire;
Or sacred Oracles sage truths impart,
To calm the passions, and to mend the heart.

From some strange cause, which med'cine ne'er could reach,
JANETTA lost her faculty of speech;
Hard fate! though blest with sense, though fair and young,
A nymph debarr'd her privilege of tongue!—
Yet, young JANETTA sat, when past relief,
"Like patience on a tomb, and smil'd at grief."
Happy, amidst the circle of her friends,
Their converse sweet in silence she attends;
She works, reads, writes, but all, alas! in vain,
Amusement sooth'd, but could not ease her pain.
Lost to the world, by various ills opprest,
At length the meek mute sufferer sunk to rest.
In years though young, in wisdom's school mature,
Who learn'd such ills with patience to endure.

But lo! her death a miracle succeeds,
Beyond the saints of legendary creeds;
"Though dead, she speaks" such truths as saint or sage
Has scarcely spoke, in any clime or age.

Check'd by her virgin diffidence no more,
Her weeping friends unlock her secret store:
No gold or toys her cabinet display'd;
No tribute to her charms by lovers paid.
With pious maxims, deep reflections fraught,
Pour'd from a heart, by sad experience taught
To pity human woes; and warm to raise
The grateful hymn to her creator's praise.

Pleas'd with her prose, enchanted with her song,
We scarce regret the silence of her tongue;
A malady, whose aid, in mercy given,
A saint on earth, an angel form'd for heaven.
As Milton painted Nature's charms, though blind,
Though mute, JANETTA shall instruct mankind.