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Thus wandering wild among the golden grain That fruitful floats on Bansted's airy plain, Careless I sung, while summer's western gale Breath'd health and fragrance thro’ the dusky vale, When from a neighbouring hawthorn, in whose shade Conceal'd she lay, up-l'ose th’ Aonian maid : Pleas'd had she listen'd; and, with smiles, she cried, “Cease, friendly swain! be this thy praise and pride, That thou, of all the numerous tuneful throng, First in our cause hast fram'd thy generous song.
“ And ye, our sister choir ! proceed to tread The flowery paths of fame, by science led ! Employ by turns the needle and the pen, And in their favorite studies rival men! May all our sex your glorious track pursue, And keep your bright example still in view! These lasting beauties will in youth engage, And smooth the wrinkles of declining age, Secure to bloom, unconscious of decay, When all Corinna's roses fade away. For even when love's short triumph shall be o'er, When youth shall please, and beauty charm no more, When man shall cease to flatter, when the eye Shall cease to sparkle, and the heart to sigh, In that dread hour, when parent dust shall claim The lifeless tribute of each kindred frame, Even then shall wisdom for her chosen fair The fragrant wreaths of virtuous fame prepare ;
Those wreaths which florish in a happier clime,
Beyond the reach of envy and of time;
While here, th’immortalizing muse shall save
Your darling names from dark Oblivion's grave;
Those names the praise and wonder shall engage
Of every polish’d, wise, and virtuous age;
To latest times our annals shall adorn,
And save from folly thousands
Whilst you, ATHENIA, with assiduous toil
Reap the rich fruits of Learning's fertile soil;
Now search whate'er historic truth hath shewn,
And make the wealth of ages past your own ;
Now crop the blossoms of poetic flow'rs,
And range delighted in the Muses' bow'rs;
Say, will the sweetest of her sex attend
To lines by friendship, not by flatt’ry penn'd,
To lines which tempt not worth with empty praise,
But to still greater height that worth would raise;
To lines which dare against a world decide,
And stem the rage of Custom's rapid tide ?
Come then, ATHENIA, freely let us scan
The coward insults of that tyrant, man.
Self-prais d, and grasping at despotic pow'r,
He looks on slav'ry as the female dow'r;
To Nature's boon ascribes what force has giv'n,
And usurpation deems the gift of Heav'n.
See the first-peopled East, where Asia sheds
Her balmy spices o'er her fertile meads :
There, while th' ASSYRIAN stretch'd his wide do-
From distant Indus to the Cyprian main,
All Nature's laws by impious force were broke;
The female sex to Slav'ry's galling yoke
Bow'd their fair necks : from social life confin'd,
And all th' exertions of th' enlighten'd mind,
Clos d in a proud Seraglio's wanton bow'rs,
The dalliance of a tyrant's looser hours.
By kings' examples subjects form their lives,
Dependant satraps had their train of wives;
Proportion'd pow'r each petty tyrant craves,
And each poor female was the slave of slaves.
When PERSIA next o'erturn'd th' Assyrian throne, Destroy'd her tyranny and fix'd its own; The fair distress'd no milder treatment saw, This was indeed th' unalterable law. In future times, whatever masters came, Tyrants were chang'd, but tyranny the same. At length t'accumulate the female
woes, The grand impostor MAHOMET arose ;
Swoln with prophetic lies, he laid his plan
On the firm basis of the pride of man;
“ Women, the toys.of men, and slaves of lust,
Are but meer moulds to form man's outward crust;
The lieavenly spark, that animates the clay,
Of the prime essence that effulgent ray,
'Th' immortal soul, is all to man confin'd,
Not meanly squander'd on weak woman-kind.”
Accursed wretch! by hell's black councił drivin
Thus to debase the fairest work of heav'n.
And could Religion rear her sacred head,
Fraught with such doctrines ? Could such errors
From western TANGIER, and the sun-burnt Moor,
To the cold TARTAR's ever-frozen shore ?
Ev'n GREECE too not exempt, GREECE, once the seal
Where Sense and Freedoin held the reins of state ;'
Where Force was Reason's hand-maid'; where the
Of Love and Friendship join the wedded hands ;
Where florished once, and forish still in faine
Th' ATHENIAN matron' and the SPARTAN dame.
In ROME too Liberty once regn d, in ROME
The female virtues were allow'd to bloom,
And bloom they did : when CANNÆ's fatal plain
Was heap'd with mountains of the Roman slain,
Was there a matron' wept her children dead?
Was there a matron wept not those that fed?