Mary Barber

(1690-1757 / England)

Conclusion Of A Letter To The Rev. Mr. C---. - Poem by Mary Barber

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'Tis Time to conclude; for I make it a Rule,
To leave off all Writing, when Con. comes from School.
He dislikes what I've written, and says, I had better
To send what he calls a poetical Letter.

To this I reply'd, You are out of your Wits;
A Letter in Verse would put him in Fits:
He thinks it a Crime in a Woman to read--
Then, what would he say, should your Counsel succeed?

I pity poor Barber, his Wife's so romantick:
A Letter in Rhyme!--Why, the Woman is frantick!
This Reading the Poets has quite turn'd her Head!
On my Life, she should have a dark Room, and Straw Bed.
I often heard say, that St. Patrick took care,
No poisonous Creature should live in this Air:
He only regarded the Body, I find;
But Plato consider'd who poison'd the Mind.
Would they'd follow his Precepts, who sit at the Helm,
And drive Poetasters from out of the Realm!

Her Husband has surely a terrible Life;
There's nothing I dread, like a verse--writing Wife:
Defend me, ye Powers, from that fatal Curse;
Which must heighten the Plagues of for better for worse!

May I have a Wife, that will dust her own Floor;
And not the fine Minx, recommended by More.
(That he was a Dotard, is granted, I hope,
Who dy'd for asserting the Rights of the Pope.)
If ever I marry, I'll chuse me a Spouse,
That shall serve and obey, as she's bound by her Vows;
That shall, when I'm dressing, attend like a Valet;
Then go to the Kitchen, and study my Palate.
She has Wisdom enough, that keeps out of the Dirt,
And can make a good Pudding, and cut out a Shirt.
What Good's in a Dame, that will pore on a Book?
No!--Give me the Wife, that shall save me a Cook.

Thus far I had written--Then turn'd to my Son,
To give him Advice, ere my Letter was done.
My Son, should you marry, look out for a Wife,
That's fitted to lighten the Labours of Life.
Be sure, wed a Woman you thoroughly know,
And shun, above all Things, a housewifely Shrew;
That would fly to your Study, with Fire in her Looks,
And ask what you got by your poring on Books;
Think Dressing of Dinner the Height of all Science,
And to Peace, and good Humour bid open Defiance.

Avoid the fine Lady, whose Beauty's her Care;
Who sets a high Price on her Shape, and her Air;
Who in Dress, and in Visits, employs the whole Day;
And longs for the Ev'ning, to sit down to play.

Chuse a Woman of Wisdom, as well as good Breeding,
With a Turn, at least no Aversion, to Reading:
In the Care of her Person, exact and refin'd;
Yet still, let her principal Care be her Mind:
Who can, when her Family Cares give her Leisure,
Without the dear Cards, pass an Ev'ning with Pleasure;
In forming her Children to Virtue and Knowledge,
Nor trust, for that Care, to a School, or a College:
By Learning made humble, not thence taking Airs,
To despise, or neglect, her domestick Affairs:
Nor think her less fitted for doing her Duty,
By knowing its Reasons, its Use, and its Beauty.

When you gain her Affection, take care to preserve it,
Lest others persuade her, you do not deserve it.
Still study to heighten the Joys of her Life;
Nor treat her the worse, for her being your Wife.
If in Judgment she errs, set her right, without Pride:
'Tis the Province of insolent Fools, to deride.
A Husband's first praise, is a Friend and Protector:
Then change not these Titles, for Tyrant and Hector.
Let your Person be neat, unaffectedly clean,
Tho' alone with your Wife the whole Day you remain.
Chuse Books, for her Study, to fashion her Mind,
To emulate those who excell'd of her Kind.
Be Religion the principal Care of your Life,
As you hope to be blest in your Children and Wife:
So you, in your Marriage, shall gain its true End;
And find, in your Wife, a Companion and Friend.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010



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