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119 poems, made such an impression on my mind, that at night, as soon as I fell asleep, my fancy presented to me the following dream. I was transported, I know not how, to the regions of Parnassus; and found myself in the court of Apollo, surrounded by a great number of our most eminent poets. A cause of the utmost importance was then depending; and the debate was, whether the English ladies, who had distinguished themselves in poetry, should be allowed to hold the same rank, and have the same honours paid them, with the men. As the moderns were not permitted to plead in their own suit, Juvenal was retained on the side of the male poets, and Sappho undertook the defence of the other sex. The Roman satirist, in his speech at the bar, inveighed bitterly against women in general, and particularly exclaimed against their dabbling in literature: But when Sappho came to set forth the pretensions, which the ladies justly had to poetry, and especially in love affairs, Apollo could no longer resist the importunity of the Muses in favour of their own sex. He therefore decreed, that all those females, who thought themselves able to manage Pegasus, should immediately shew their skill and dexterity in riding him.
Pegasus was accordingly brought out of the stable, and the Muses furnished him with a side-saddle. All the ladies, who had courage enough to venture on his back, were prepared to mount : but as a great dispute arose among some of the competitors about precedency, (each of them claiming a right to ride first,) it was at length agreed, that they should get into the saddle according to seniority.
Upon this a lady advanced; who, though she had something rather extravagant in her air and deportment, yet she had a noble presence, that commanded at once awe and admiration. She was dressed in an old-fashioned habit, very fantastic, and trimmed with
bugles and points; such as was worn in the time of king Charles the First. This lady, I was informed, was the Duchess of Newcastle. When she came to mount, she sprung into the saddle with surprising agility; and giving an entire loose to the reins, Pegasus directly set up a gallop, and ran away with her quite out of sight. However, it was acknowledged, that she kept a firm seat, even when the horse went at his deepest rate; and that she wanted nothing but to ride with a curb-bridle. When she came to dismount, Shakspeare and Milton very kindly offered their hand to help her down, which she accepted. Then Euterpe came up to her with a smile, and begged her to repeat those beautiful lines against melancholy, which (she said) were so extremely picturesque. The Duchess, with a most pleasing air, immediately began
* Dull melancholy
She'll make you start at ev'ry noise you hear,
While you and I in mirth and pleasure swell. All the while that these lines were repeating, Milton seemed very much chagrined; and it was whispered by some, that he was obliged for many of the thoughts
Poems by Eminent Ladies. Vol. II. page 200.
in his L'Allegro and Il Penseroso to this lady's Dialogue between Mirth and Melancholy.
The celebrated Orinda, Mrs. Katherine Philips, was next placed in the saddle, amid the shouts and applauses of the lords Roscommon and Orrery, Cowley, and other famous wits of her time. Her dress was simple, though of a very elegant make: it had no profuse ornaments, and approached very nearly to the cut and fashion of the present age. Though she never ventured beyond a canter or a hand-gallop, she made Pegasus do his paces with so much ease and exactness, that Waller himself owned he could never bring him under so much command. After her Mrs. Killigrew, assisted by Dryden, and several other ladies of that age took their turns to ride: and every one agreed, that (making some allowances for their sex) they could not be excelled by the most experienced riders among the men.
A bold masculine figure now pushed forward in a thin, airy, gay habit, which hung so loose about her, that she appeared to be half undrest. When she came. up to Pegasus, she clapped her hand upon the side-saddle, ` and with a spring leaped across it, saying she should never ride him but astride. She made the poor beast frisk, and caper, and curvet, and play a thousand tricks; while she herself was quite unconcerned, though she shewed her legs at every motion of the horse, and many of the Muses turned their heads aside blushing. Thalia, indeed, was a good deal pleased with her frolicks; and Erato declared, that next to her favourite Sappho she should always prefer this lady. Upon enquiring her name, I found her to be the free-spirited Mrs. Behn. When she was to dis
* Poems by Eminent Ladies, N. B. This lady, it is supposed, VOL. XXXI,,
Vol. II. page 199.
mount, Lord Rochester came up, and caught her in his arms; and repeating part of her* Ode to Desire, To a myrtle bower He led her nothing loth.
I had now the pleasure to see many ladies of our own times, whose names I was very well acquainted with, advance towards Pegasus. Among the re could not but wonder at the astonishing dexterity, with which the admired Mrs. Leapor of Brackley guided the horse, though she had not the least assist ance from any body. Mrs. Barber of Ireland was assisted in getting upon the saddle by Swift himself, who even condescended to hold the stirrup while she mounted. Under the Dean's direction she made the horse to pace and amble very prettily: notwithstanding which some declared, that she was not equal to her friend and country-woman Mrs. Grierson.
Another lady, a native of the same kingdom, then briskly stepped up to Pegasus; and despising the weak efforts of her husband to prevent her, she boldly jumped into the saddle, and whipping and cutting rode away furiously helter skelter over hedge and ditch, and trampled on every body who came in her road. She took particular delight in driving the poor horse, who kicked and winced all the while, into the most filthy places; where she made him fling about the dirt and mire, with which she bespattered almost every one that came near her. Sometimes, however, she would put a stop to this mad career; and then she plainly convinced us, that she knew as well how to manage Pegasus as any of the females, who had tried before her. Being told that this lady was no other than the celebrated biographer of her own actions Mrs. Pilkington, I had
* Poems by Emine at Ladies. Vol. I. Page 167.
123 the curiosity to take a nearer view of her; when stepping up towards her, and offering my assistance to help her down, methought she returned my civility with such an uncourteous slap on the face, that (though I awaked at the instant) I could not help fancying for. some time, that I felt my cheek tingle with the blow.
N° 70. THURSDAY, MAY 29, 1755.
Causam hanc justam esse in animum inducite,
Write correspondents, write, whene'er you will;
My publisher having acquainted me, that he intends
to close the volume with this number, I shall take the opportunity to throw together several letters, which I have received in the course of this work, and to balance with all my correspondents; at the same time assuring them, that I should be very glad to open a fresh account with them in my next volume. *
In the infancy of this undertaking I was honoured with a very kind billet from a brother of the quill; the terms of which I am sorry it was not in my power to comply with. It was as follows.
I can be of great assistance to you, if you want any help. I will write for you every other week, or oftner if you choose it. As a specimen of my powers, I have sent you an essay, which is at your service. It is short, but a very good one. Yours at command, T. TURNPENNY. P. S. Please to send by the bearer a guinea. *This alludes to the division of volumes in the second edition of this work.