Mary Barber

(1690-1757 / England)

To Mrs. Strangeways Horner, With A Letter From My Son; - Poem by Mary Barber

O thou, with ev'ry Virtue grac'd,
Adorn'd with Wit, and Sense, and Taste;
Who, with a Goodness unconfin'd,
Delight'st in blessing human Kind,
Whose Woes so oft thy Peace destroy;
'Tis just, thou shouldst partake their Joy:
Then in my Transport deign to share;
Behold this Letter from my Heir:
There see the Picture of a Mind,
In Duty, as in Arts, refin'd;
Who, in full Triumph, could submit
His Trophies at his Parent's Feet.
So he, in Roman Story fam'd,
Who from Corioli was nam'd,
With Joy engag'd in glorious Toils,
To glad his Mother with the Spoils:
Her Son, by Roman Arms, o'ercame;
By Roman Arts, mine soars to Fame.

Methinks, I see your Friendship rise,
And sparkle in your lovely Eyes.
Your Heir! (I hear you now repeat)
I long to know of your Estate.
Say--Is it an Hibernian Bog,
Where Phoebus seldom shines for Fog?

HORTENSIA, there he sometimes shines;
But oft'ner hides his Head, and pines,
On happier Climes to look, nor see
Such dismal Scenes of Poverty;
Nor see an Isle, by Nature bless'd,
By ill--judg'd Policy oppress'd;
Her Trade usurp'd by foreign Lands,
Whilst Albion fast ties up her Hands:
Nor see her Sons in Science skill'd,
And yet her Posts by Strangers fill'd.

But, since of my Estate you ask,
The Answer is no easy Task,
Criticks, not Lawyers, are to show,
Whether my Title's good, or no.
Ovid has long ago defin'd,
What Lands are to the Muse assign'd:
'Tis but a barren Soil, 'tis true,
Not such as Heav'n bestow'd on You;
(Yet, Miser--like, our Lands you seize,
And win, but will not wear, the Bays
A steep, a slipp'ry, dang'rous Hill,
Which we, alas! are climbing still;
Still think there's better Land up higher,
Which all would gain, but few acquire.
If low or beaten Paths we trace,
We're deem'd an abject, grov'ling Race:
And oft, when we attempt to soar,
We miss our Aim, and fall the lower:
Tho' some by magic Numbers found
The Art to gain the highest Ground;
Yet most of those, alas! we know,
Had Cause to wish they'd stay'd below;
Rather than be exalted there,
To starve in pure poetic Air;
Whilst tasteless Wights, in Valleys fed,
Despise the Wits in Want of Bread.

Yet sometimes we in Story find
An Instance of a noble Mind,
That made Apollo's Shrine its Care,
And bless'd the Tribe that worshipp'd there.
High in the deathless Lists of Fame,
Revere the godlike Sidney's Name:
There Dorset, and Southampton, view;
And there the Poets Montagu.
Eliza paid her Spencer's Toil
With Acres of Hibernian Soil:
And now illustrious Caroline
Resolves to raise the drooping Nine;
With Pleasure saw the lab'ring Hind
Studious to cultivate his Mind;
And deign'd to smile on rural Lines,
Where so much native Beauty shines.

HORTENSIA, I revere your Friend:
May Blessings on her Head descend,
Who made a Peasant's Merit known,
And plac'd the Poor before the Throne:
Thus imitates the Pow'r Divine,
And proves her Soul ally'd to thine.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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