[Writer unequall’d in the art to please]

Writer unequall’d in the art to please,

Virtue with Sense and Elegance with Ease,

With Spirit, Delicacy, and Taste refin’d,

In ev’ry Letter, ev’ry Page combin’d:

These and a thousand Excellencies more 5

Live on the Attentive Mind that reads thee o’er.

In various Persons Various Charms we see,

In Clem––, Harriet, Lady G––

Yet in each different Character we meet

Exalted Sentiment, example sweet, 10

Which while they steal upon the soften’d Heart

Amusement and instruction both impart.

None e’er perus’d thy Works without applause

And Stiled thee Champion in the female cause.

Virtue in our Sex must be first despised 15

And Honor the Men no more be priz’d

Before the British fair forget thy Name

Or let Oblivion swallow up thy Fame.

Envy not, Richardson, the vain parade

Of Kings and Heroes when their Laurels fade; 20

This gentle Title shall on thee attend:

The tender fair one’s kind instructive Friend.

1769 Maria

Text: Box 2, Reeves Collection, Bodleian Library; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, p. 174. Reference here is to Samuel Richardson, author of the popular novel, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, to which the poem also alludes.