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But woman! no redemption knows,
The wounds of honour never close,
Though distant ev'ry hand to guide, Nor skill'd in life's tempestuous tide, If once her feeble bark recede,
Or deviate from the course decreed,
In vain she seeks the friendless shore,
Her swifter folly flies before;
The circling ports against her close,
And shut the wand'rer from repose,
"Till, by conflicting waves oppress'd,
Her found'ring pinnace sinks to rest.
Are there no offerings to atone
For but a single error? - None.
Though woman is avow'd, of old,
No daughter of celestial mould,
Her temp'ring not without allay,
And form'd but of the finer clay,
We challenge from the mortal dame
The strength angelic natures claim;
Nay more; for sacred stories tell,
That e'en immortal angels fell.
Whatever fills the teeming sphere
Of humid earth, and ambient air,
With varying elements endu'd,
Was form'd to fall, and rise renew'd.
The stars no fix'd duration know,
Wide oceans ebb, again to flow,
The moon repletes her waning face,
All beauteous from her late disgrace,
And suns, that mourn approaching night,
Refulgent rise with new-born light.
In vain may death and time subdue,
While Nature mints her race anew,
And holds some vital spark apart,
Like virtue, hid in ev'ry heart.
'Tis hence reviving warmth is seen
To clothe a naked world in green,
No longer barr'd by winter's cold,
Again the gates of life unfold;
Again each insect tries his wing,
And lifts fresh pinions on the spring;
Again from ev'ry latent root
The bladed stem, and tendril shoot,
Exhaling incense to the skies,
Again to perish and to rise.
And must weak woman then disown
The change to, which a world is prone?
In one meridian brightness shine,
And ne'er like ev'ning suns decline?
Resolv'd and firm alone?-Is this
What we demand of woman?-Yes.
But should the spark of vestal fire
In some unguarded hour expire.
Or should the nightly thief invade
Hesperia's chaste and sacred shade,
Of all the blooming spoil possess'd,
The dragon Honour charm'd to rest,
Shall virtue's flame no more return?
No more with virgin splendour burn?
No more the ravag'd garden blow
With spring's succeeding blossom? - No.
Pity may mourn, but not restore;
And woman falls, to rise no more.
Within this sublunary sphere
-no matter where;
The clime may readily be found
By al, who tread poetic ground.
A stream call'd Life across it glides,
And equally the land divides;
And here, of Vice, the province lies;
And there, the hills of Virtue rise.
Upon a mountain's airy stand,
Whose summit look'd to either land,
An ancient pair their dwelling chose,
As well for prospect as repose;
For mutual faith they long were fam'd,
And Temp'rance and Religion nam’d.
A num'rous progeny divine
Confess'd the honours of their line;
But in a little daughter fair
Was centr'd more than half their care; For heav'n, to gratulate her birth, Gave signs of future joy to earth;
White was the robe this infant wore,
And Chastity the name she bore.
As now the maid in stature grew,
(A flow'r just op'ning to the view)
Oft through her native lawns she stray'd,
And wrestling with the lambkins play'd;
Her looks diffusive sweets bequeath'd,
The breeze grew purer as she breath'd,
The morn her radiant blush assum'd,
The spring with earlier fragrance bloom'd,
And nature yearly took delight,
Like her, to dress the world in white.
But when her rising form was seen
To reach the crisis of fifteen,
Her parents up the mountain's head
With anxious step their darling led;
By turns they snatch'd her to their breast,
And thus the fears of age express'd:
"O joyful cause of many a care!
O daughter, too divinely fair!
Yon world on this important day
Demands thee to a dang'rous way;
A painful journey all must go,
Whose doubtful period none can know,
Whose due direction who can find,
Where reason's mute, and sense is blind?
Ah, what unequal leaders these,
Through such a wide, perplexing maze!
Then mark the warnings of the wise,
And learn what love and years advise.
Far to the right thy prospect bend,
Where yonder tow'ring hills ascend;
Lo, there the arduous path's in view,
Which Virtue and her sons pursue;
With toil o'er less'ning earth they rise,
And gain, and gain upon the skies,
Narrow's the way her children tread,
No walk for Pleasure smoothly spread,
But rough, and difficult, and steep,
Painful to climb, and hard to keep.
"Fruits immature those lands dispense,
A food indelicate to sense,
Of taste unpleasant; yet from those
Pure health, with cheerful vigour, flows,
And strength, unfeeling of decay,
Throughout the long laborious way.
"Hence, as they scale that heav'nly road, Each limb is lighten'd of its load;
From earth refining still they go,
And leave the mortal weight below;
Then spreads the straight, the doubtful clears, And smooth the rugged path appears;
For custom turns fatigue to ease,
And, taught by Virtue, Pain can please.
"At length the toilsome journey o'er,
And near the bright celestial shore,