Mary Barber

(1690-1757 / England)

To Mrs. Ward. By The Same. - Poem by Mary Barber

O thou, my beauteous, ever tender Friend,
Thou, on whom all my worldly Joys depend,
Accept these Numbers; and with Pleasure hear
Unstudy'd Truth, which few, alas! can bear;
While conscious Virtue takes the Muse's Part,
Glows on thy Cheek, and warms thy gen'rous Heart.

Let Birth--day Suits be thoughtless Celias Cire;
And Rows of Di'monds recommend the Fair;
While gazing Crouds around the Pageant press,
Charm'd with her Pride, and Luxury of Dress:
Far other Joys thy just Ambition move,
To cherish and reward a Husband's Love;
To slight vain Titles, in Retreat to shine,
Shun public Praise, and call a Poet thine.
And know, ye Fair, a Poet can supply,
What Wealth, and Pow'r, and Equipage deny.
When the vain Bus'ness of your Lives is o'er,
And the Glass frightens, whom it charm'd before;
When not a Trace remains of what you were,
And not a Compliment salutes your Ear;
Without one Virtue, to redeem Respect,
Without one Beauty, to sorbid Neglect;
With Tears unpity'd, you may then lament
The gloomy Setting of a Life mis--spent;
Nor Delia's Choice with witty Malice blame,
Who gave up Show for Happiness and Fame.

O! If the Muse, not uninspir'd, divine,
Thy bright Example shall for ever shine;
Teach the wise Virgin, where to fix her Choice,
And weigh no Marriage by the common Voice;
To yield with Dignity, reject with Grace;
Nor tire the Lover with a tedious Chace:
With Ease to conquer, and with Ease retain,
Brighten Prosperity, or soften Pain:
Know Woman's Glory, and her proper End;
Live to her Husband, Family, and Friend:
Thro' varying Life her various Virtues prove,
Honour her Portion here, and Bliss above.

Say, What Persuasion, or what Arts of mine,
Could gain a Passage to a Soul like thine?
Where Female Softness, Strength of Reason meet,
A piercing Judgment, and a Wit discrect;
Where ev'ry Passion, ev'ry Duty, knows
Its proper Bounds, and not unlicens'd flows.
Say, for thou know'st, my ever ablest Guide,
(One doubtful Act remains unjustify'd)
On Me, on Me, thy choicest Favours fell;
Could You so err, or I deserve so well?
Instruct me thou the happy Art to steer,
And still with Modesty thy Conduct clear;
So in thy Praises may the World agree;
Nor load with Vanity the Muse and Me.

With Song still usher'd shall the Morn arise,
That shew'd thee first, all--charming, to my Eyes:
I gaz'd with Rapture, yet chastiz'd with Awe:
So the First Man descending Angels saw.
Speaking, or silent, O! secure to charm,
To win with Wisdom, or with Beauty warm:
The Graces unobserv'd, with easy Care,
Form thy soft Accents, and compose thy Air.
I saw, and heard; nor heard, nor saw, unmov'd,
Unknowing, or I durst not know, I lov'd.
What thence I suffer'd, let high Heav'n declare,
Pitying my Grief, propitious to my Pray'r.
Heav'n try'd my Passion, and pronounc'd it true:
Hence I embolden'd, and hence softer You.
Yet oft with--held, and falt'ring oft with Pain,
My Tongue half utters, what my Eyes explain,
Nor prone to flatter, nor to Virtue blind;
Not void of Knowledge, and to learn inclin'd;
Nor sprung from noble, nor ungen'rous Blood;
Boasting a Father honest, wise, and good;
Such long observ'd, and by long Converse shown,
My Temper, Manners, and my Failings known:
You trust my Vows, and pity Love sincere;
Haste to relieve, and smile away my Fear;
Give all you can, and all the rest forsake,
The noblest Sacrifice, that Love could make!
Of what Avail the Use of Wealth to Thee?
Or what the Blessing, if unshar'd with Me?
O doubly honour'd by the grateful Mind,
For what you bring, and what you leave behind!

Is there a Man in Science not unread,
In simple Neatness elegantly bred,
Of what or Health or Nature asks, possess'd,
Receiv'd by all, and by his Friends caress'd,
False and insidious can the Fair pursue,
And look on Beauty with a Miser's View?
Taught by the Muse such abject Souls to hate,
And hope sweet Converse from the Marriage--State,
I place my Triumphs in a matchless Wife,
Nor seek superfluous Vanities of Life:
Thus, unobnoxious to Detraction's Aim,
Nor base Suspicion can attaint my Fame.

Degen'rate Thought! Let sland'rous Tongues assail;
Spread all their Poison, all their Rage prevail;
So gracious Heav'n restore thee, to enjoy
What Love could leave, but Wisdom could employ.

Mean--while my Delia manifests her Worth;
The Loss of Riches calls her Prudence forth:
Behold her now with Dignity descend;
And low, but necessary, Cares attend;
Chearful, what Fortune not allows, resign;
And, harder still, her Charities confine:
But Heav'n in secret sees the kind Intent,
Each Act of Pity, or of Bounty, meant;
Heav'n sees in secret; but in open Day
Will crown thy Merit, and thy Praise display.
Tho' small thy Store, not Millions could suffice,
To furnish all thy lib'ral Thought supplies.
How oft thy lov'd Sapphira melts thy Breast,
Obscur'd her Worth, her Genius half depress'd!
How oft thy Fancy helps Old--Age along!
Or hears the Widow's, and the Orphau's Song!
Now visionary Temples rise around;
And half thy Empire, GEORGE, is sacred Ground.

From Thee, my Delia, from thy watchful Care,
My Little lasts; my Little, Friends can share:
Nor Debts distract, nor Usuries devour;
Poor if I am, within my Fortune poor.
Smile on, my Fair, tho' cautious, void of Fear,
Wise to shun Sorrows, or prepar'd to bear.
Who copies Thee, shall never fail to find,
'Midst Clouds and Storms, the Sun--shine of the Mind:
For Piety (whatever Ill impends)
Omniscience guides, Omnipotence defends.

Bless'd in Retirement, Competence, and Love,
Below all Envy, and all Vice above,
Crown'd with Content, I only burn to show,
(Hopeless to recompense) how much I owe.
O born with Genius, and with Learning fill'd,
In ev'ry Rule of happy Writings skill'd;
Whom Beauties strike, false Ornaments offend;
Who weigh with Care each Author's Scope and End;
Know why Pope slackens, or augments his Fire;
And oft, where others damn, the most admire;
(So shallow Wits, with bolder Folly, blame,
From Parts, the faultless Universal Frame:
But Newton's Genius could the Whole explore,
See All was good, and Wisdom's Hand adore.)
This Verse (you know me free from faulty Pride)
Or kindly authorize, or kindly hide:
Approve; and Fame shall sanctify my Lays:
Suppress; yet Love my grateful Labour pays.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010



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