1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hester Mulso Chapone

Philario, "To a Young Lady, with Mrs. Chapone's Miscellanies" Lady's Monthly Museum 3 (July 1799) 73-74.



When Folly's arts delude a sinking land,
And Virtue groans beneath Oppression's hand,
Shall female champions nobly take her cause,
Maintain her statutes, and enforce her laws?
Shall sweet Chapone Religion's pleasures tell,
And Barbauld (England's present Philomel)
Sublimest thoughts in softest verse disclose,
Or teach like More in energetic prose?
And shall not Albion's yet attentive sons
(Though strong the torrent of corruption runs)
Join the lov'd Muses in their favourite's praise,
And, pleas'd, resign the uncontested bays?

Oh! had their labours grac'd some earlier age—
Had proud Mahomet read th' enlighten'd page,
Such pens had thunderstruck the daring elf,
And stagger'd even Chesterfield himself!
My Lord wrote letters in a graceful style,
And, dress'd in graces, how must Vice beguile!
But rather than such wits success should gain,
And banish Innocence, that Taste may reign—
Than sires should bid their sons Heav'n's laws defy,
Perish his name, and all the graces die!

Such lore, where Vice's rankest seeds are sown,
The Pagan world had been asham'd to own;
Athens had scorn'd such faithless masks of men,
And Roman virtue curs'd the baneful pen!
Yet these, even these, our modern Christians read,
And, blushless, call them "charming things, indeed!"

Go on, ye Fair, with Virtue on your side,—
Her smile your promise, and fair Truth your guide:
Tell Folly's sons, who down the tide are borne,
That fools may follow, but such fools you scorn!
With nicest art each latent passion trace,
Each moral beauty, and each mental grace:—
Go on, by bless'd Religion's sacred plan,
"And shew to man, the dignity of man!"