Archive for January 8th, 2020

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

On Sir J — — S — — Saying in a Sarcastic Manner, My Books Would Make Me Mad; an Ode by Elizabeth Thomas


Unhappy Sex! how hard’s our Fate,
By Customs Tyranny confin’d
To foolish Needle-work, and Chat,
Or such like Exercise as that,
But still deny’d th’ Improvement of our Mind!
” Women! Men cry, alas, poor Fools!
” What are they but domestick Tools?
” On purpose made our Toils to share,
” And case the Husband’s Oeconomick Care.
” To dress, to sing, to work, to play,
” To watch our Looks, our Words obey,
” And with their little Follies, drive dull Thoughts away.
” Thus let them humbly in Subjection live;
” But Learning leave to Man, our great Prerogative.

Most mighty Sovreigns we submit,
And own ye Monarchs of the Realms of Wit:
But might a Slave to her Superiours speak,
And without Treason Silence break,
She’d first implore your royal Grace,
Then humbly thus expostalate the Case.
Those, who to Husband, have their Power resign’d,
Will in their House a fall Employment find,
And little Time command to cultivate the Mind.
Had we been made intuitively wise,
Like Angels vast Capacities;
I would allow we need not use,
Those Rules Experience does infuse:
But if born ignorant, tho fit for more,
Can you deny we should improve our Store?
Or won’t you be so just to grant,
That those Perfections which we want,
And can’t acquire when in a married State,
Should be attain’d before.
Believe me, ’tis a Truth long understood;
That those who know not why they’re so, can ne’er be wise or good.

What surer Method can we take,
Than this ye seem to chuse?
‘Tis Books ye write, and Books ye use;
But yet we must a serious Judgment make,
What to elect, and what refuse.
Is’t not by Books we’re taught to know
The great Creator of this World below?
The vast Dimensions of this Earth,
And to what minute Particles poor Mortals owe their Birth?
By Books, th’ Almighty’s Works, we learn and prize,
But those Phaenomena’s, which dazle vulgar Eyes,
We can as much despise.
And more than this, well chosen Books do show,
What unto God, and what to Man we owe.
Yet, if we enquire for a Book,
Beyond a Novel, or a Play,
Good Lord! how soon th’ Alarms took,
How soon your Eyes, your Souls betray,
And with what Spite ye look!
How nat’rally ye stare and scowl,
Like wond’ring Birds about an Owl,
And with malicious Sneer, these dismal Accents howl.

Alas, poor Plato! all thy Glory’s past:
What, in a Female Hand arriv’d at last!
Sure, adds another, ’tis for something worse;
This Itch of Reading’s sent her as a Curse.
No, no, cries good Sir John, but ’tis as bad,
For if she’s not already craz’d, I’m sure she will be mad.
‘Tis thus ye rail to vent your Spleen,
And think your wond’rous Wit is seen:
But ’tis the Malice of your Sex appears,
What suffer Woman to pretend to Sense!
Oh! how this Optick magnifics the Offence,
And aggravates your Fears?
But since the French in all ye ape,
Why should not they your Morals shape?
Their Women are as gay and fair,
Yet learned Ladies are no Monsters there.
What is it from our Sex ye fear,
That thus ye curb our Pow’rs?
D’ye apprehend a bookish War,
Or are your Judgments less, for raising ours?
Come, come, the real Truth confeis,
(A Fault acknowledg’d is the less)
And own it was an avaricious Soul,
Which would, with greedy Eyes, monopolize the whole:
And bars us Learning on the selfish Score:
That conscious of our native Worth,
Ye dread to make it more.
Then thanks to Heav’n, we’re English born and free,
And thank our gracious Laws that give such Liberty.


Date: 1722

By: Elizabeth Thomas (1675-1731)