The beasts who roam o'er Libya's desert plain|
Have gentler hearts than men who dare maintain
That woman, lovely woman, hath no soul.
They too seem drench'd in Circe's pois'nous bowl
Who grant, the Fair may have a soul to save,
But deem each female born an abject slave.
Give me a maiden of unfetter'd mind,
By thought and knowledge strengthen'd and refin'd!
A gift like this more precious would I hold
Than India's gems, or Afric's purest gold.
Ye maids, whose vows to science are address'd,
If thus your minds be fashion'd, thus impress'd,
With joy your course pursue; nor heed, the while,
Envy's malignant grin, nor Folly's smile.
Trace Nature's laws; explore the starry maze;
Learn why the lightnings flash, the meteors blaze.
From earth to heav'n your view, inquiring, dart;
And see how order reigns in every part.
'Tis sweet, 'tis wholesome to frequent this school
Where all is beauty and unerring rule.
But strain'd research becomes not well the fair;
Deep thought imparts a melancholy air;
The sparkling eye grows dim, the roses fade,
When long obscur'd beneath a studious shade.
Suffice it for a tender nymph to stray
Where strength and industry have clear'd the way;
To cull the fruits and flowers which bless the toil
Endur'd by Newton, Verulam and Boyle.
Yet all possess not senses to enjoy
These flowers so fair, these fruits which never cloy.
There runs through all things which our powers can note
A golden thread which links the most remote.
There is a kindred feature to be trac'd
In things most opposite, most widely plac'd.
In matter, thus, resemblance may be found
To soaring mind, whose movements own no bound.
For, as a fluid vainly strives to save
A heavier mass from sinking in its wave,
So, in the mind made up of trifles light,
All weighty truths, o'erwhelm'd sink out of sight!
A while, perchance, it may endure to feel
A sober thought's dread weight, as polish'd steel,
Dropp'd gently on the water's face, seems loth
To sink; but 'tis repulsion holds them both.
Fair science, how thy modest cheeks would glow,
If dragg'd to view in fashion's puppet-show!
Midst fops and feathers, sighs and painted cheeks,
Soft maiden blushes, and strange maiden freaks;
Midst sickening pleasures, wearisome delights,
Days doom'd to listlessness, and sleepless nights.
Ill would'st thou fare amidst this gaudy train,
Where all is treach'rous, transitory, vain!
No, no, the fair who pant for joys like these
Not wisdom's richest stores of wealth could please.
Let Heaven and Earth, for them, be rul'd by chance;
No laws they heed but those which rule the dance.
Their eyes, fast fix'd on earth, ne'er love to roam
O'er all the splendor of the starry dome,
For them no stars e'er shone, since time began,
With half the glories of a spangled fan.
To you, ye Nymphs, inspirers of my song,
No features here portrayed, I trust, belong.
But should I see a girl at knowledge aim
Because philosophy's a handsome name;
Or who would learn because the fashion's so,
And beckon science as she would a beau,
This truth the trifler from my lips should know,
"When Nature shall forget her 'stablish'd laws,
And chance take place of an omniscient cause;
When every creature some strange powers shall know,
That swims in air, or treads the earth below;
When bees, forgetful of their wonted skill,
Shall idly flaunt, while butterflies distill
The liquid sweets, and build the curious cell,
Then may true wisdom grace a fluttering Belle."