1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Montagu

A Lady, "On Mrs. Montagu" New-York Weekly Magazine 2 (24 May 1797) 376.



Why boast, O arrogant, imperious man,
Perfections so exclusive? are thy powers
Nearer approaching Deity? can'st thou solve
Questions which high Infinity propounds,
Soar nobler flights, or dare immortal deeds,
Unknown to woman, if she greatly dares
To use the powers assign'd to her? Active strength,
The boast of animals, is clearly thine;
By this upheld, thou think'st the lesson rare
That female virtues teach; and poor the height
Which female wit obtains. The theme unfolds
Its ample maze, for Montagu befriends
The puzzled thought, and, blazing in the eye
Of boldest opposition, strait presents
The soul's best energies, her keenest powers,
Clear, vigorous, enlighten'd; with firm wing
Swift she o'ertakes his Muse, which spread afar
Its brightest glories in the days of yore;
Lo! where she, mounting spurns the stedfast earth,
And, sailing on the cloud of science, bears
The banner of Perfection.