1745 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Anonymous, "To the Author of a Poem, call'd The Furniture of a Woman's Mind" American Magazine [Boston] 2 (August 1745) 363.



Illustrious Doctor! pray excuse
The sallies of a female muse.
You criticise, tho' deaf, and blinking,
On our bad English, dressing, thinking,
Now you'r become morose and stupid,
Secure against the darts of Cupid;
Old Pegasus you gall and tire,
To spatter us with dirt and mire.
It's to the world vast information,
To tell we're fond of dress and fashion;
We "never hold our tongues a minute,
Tho' all we say has nothing in it":
Who's in the fault? if our creator
Forms souls as blank as spotless paper;
Then ladies by scholastick knowledge,
Improv'd by tutors sent to college,
Might tell a mood, a noun, or case,
As ready as the price of lace:
Might read old Homer with more skill,
Than chuse a silk, or play quadrill;
Wou'd like a Boyle before a Handall,
Nor doat on coxcombs, or on scandal.
A skilful poet, like a painter,
Whether's he's serious or in banter,
Keeps madam nature in his eye,
Or else the work's not worth a fly.
But you so far exceed her rules,
And make our sex such monstruous fools,
That were all men to think like you,
A chaos must of course ensue.
Your brother poets you have long since
Accus'd of most egregious nonsense;
You'r now become as good a diver,
As Dennis, Philips, or Ce—livre.
In your new region take the chair,
B—more resign, he's rightful heir.