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PANEGYRICAL AND GALLANT.
Author of Pamela, Clarissa, and Grandison.
BY JOHN DUNCOMBE, M. A.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR MDCC LI.
SHALL lordly man, the theme of every lay,
In kingly state on Pindus' summit sit,
By Salic law the female right deny,
And view their genius with regardless eye?
To sing the glories of a sister-choir!
Rise, rise, bold swain; and to the listening grove Resound the praises of the sex you love;
Tell how, adorn'd with every charm, they shine, In mind and person equally divine,
'Till man, no more to female merit blind, Admire the person, but adore the mind.
To these weak strains, O thou! the sex's friend And constant patron, Richardson! attend! Thou, who so oft with pleas'd, but anxious care, Hast watch'd the dawning genius of the fair, With wonted smiles wilt hear thy friend display The various graces of the female lay; Studious from folly's yoke their minds to free, And aid the generous cause espous'd by thee.
Long o'er the world did Prejudice maintain,
Be thine, to move majestic in the dance,
To roll the eye, and aim the tender glance,
Or touch the strings, and breathe the melting song,
Content to emulate that airy throng,
Who to the sun their painted plumes display,
And gaily glitter on the hawthorn spray,
Or wildly warble in the beechen grove,
Careless of aught but music, joy, and love.”
Heavens! could such artful, slavish sounds beguile The freeborn sons of Britain's polish'd'isle?
Could they, like fam'd Ulysses' dastard crew,
In loathsome pomp, where eastern tyrants reign;
Our British nymphs with happier omens rove, At freedom's call, thro' wisdom's sacred grove, so And, as with lavish hand each sister grace Shapes the fair form, and regulates the face, Each sister muse, in blissful union join'd, Adorns, improves, and beautifies the mind. Even now fond fancy in our polish'd land Assembled shows a blooming, studious band: With various arts our reverence they engage, Some turn the tuneful, some the moral page, These, led by Contemplation, soar on high, And range the heavens with philosophic eye; bo While those, surrounded by a vocal choir, The canvas tinge, or touch the warbling lyre.
Here, like the stars' mix'd radiance, they unite
So when, in blended tints, with sweet surprize
Or spring, great Kneller! from a hand like thine,
And, lost in wonder, know not which to praise, But singly view'd, each nymph delights us more, Disclosing graces unperceiv'd before.
First let the muse with generous ardor try To chase the mist from dark opinion's eye : Nor mean we here to blame that father's care, Who guards from learned wives his booby heir, Since oft that heir with prudence has been known To dread a genius that transcends his own: 0 The wise themselves should with discretion choose, Since letter'd nymphs their knowledge may abuse, And husbands oft experience to their cost The prudent housewife in the scholar lost : But those incur deserv'd contempt, who prize Their own high talents, and their sex despise, With haughty mien each social bliss defeat, And sully all their learning with conceit: Of such the parent justly warns his son, And such the muse herself will bid him shun.
But lives there one, whose unassuming mind, Tho' grac'd by nature, and by art refin❜d, Pleas'd with domestic excellence, can spare Some hours from studious ease to social care, And with her pen that time alone employs Which others waste in visits, cards, and noise; From affectation free, tho' deeply read,
"With wit well natur'd, and with books well bred?"
With such (and such there are) each happy day Must fly improving, and improv'd away; o Inconstancy might fix and settle there,
And wisdom's voice approve the chosen fair.
Nor need we now from our own Britain rove, In search of genius, to the Lesbian grove, Tho' Sappho there her tuneful lyre has strung, And amorous griefs in sweetest accents sung, Since here, in Charles's days, amidst a train Of shameless bards, licentious and profane, The chaste Orinda rose; with purer light, Like modest Cynthia, beaming thro' the night: /10 Fair friendship's lustre, undisguis'd by art, Glows in her lines, and animates her heart; Friendship, that jewel, which, though all confess Its peerless value, yet how few possess! For her the never-dying myrtle weaves A verdant chaplet of her odorous leaves ;