A Poetical Reply Valiant

Miss Porden

To Timon & Lysander

Timon required the faults of man to be enumerated, at the same time stating them to be few.


Mistaken youth to dare assert
 Thy sex’s faults are slight and few
The ladies’ faults may numerous prove
 But man I fear has more to rue


Though ignorance bound our minds in chains
 So long, by your unjust command
(Forbade our fame to free from stains)
 The pen alone adorn’d your hand


Yet now in George’s golden days
 And now in Britain’s happy isle
On either sex, with equal grace
 The lovely Muses deign to smile


And as (when for a while restrained)
 More fierce the torrent holds its course
So dread our freedom now regain’d
 Lest we retort with triple force


Yet no, our gentler minds delight
 With love and praise the air to fill
Like honey sweet our numbers flow
 Clear as Pieria’s crystal rill


Yet pursuant now to your request
 I seize the martial lance and shield
And now to lower your haughty crest
 The pointed darts of Satyr wield


Man is ambitions, jealous, proud
 For base ingratitude renown’d
Be faults alone to us allow’d
 In man the blacker crimes abound


Though fabling bards our sex may name
 “The wavering race of woman kind”
Your sex deserves no brighter fame
 For man we more inconstant find


Or if our blackened fame has spread
 Renown’d for art and crafty wiles
Say dwells less cunning in your head
 Lurks poison lip beneath your smiles


If woman kind should envious prove
 Say does in man less envy dwell
If cruelty our sex may love
 Say is not man more fierce more fell


And if as wintry torrents loud
 The eloquence of woman kind
Fierce as the bursting thunder cloud
 The stormy tongues of man we find


If of their charms our sex were vain
 Take to yourselves alone the shame
Your envious soul your selfish mind
 And your tyrannic conduct blame


For (though this truth may bitter prove)
 Know that to us by bounteous heaven
Of whom alike we share the love
 An equal soul with yours was given


Save gentler far our minds were made
 By that our weaker frames to suit
In us the softer passions more
 In man the ruder have their root


Thus formed alike, companions meet
 While joys alone their time engage
They lived a while a life so sweet
 It since was called, “The Golden Age”


But soon unblest oppression rose
 With brazen brow and iron hand
Strait to the stronger sex he goes
 And bids usurp unjust command


There tyrant man inflamed by pride
 (As still in barbarous climes we find)
To our sad sex a soul denied
 And said that woman had no mind


But like the insects of a day
 When this their mortal race was o’er
The flame that animates their clay
 Expired alas to rise no more


And thence they strove not to improve
 A mind whose being they denied
To woman inward light refused
 Her outward charms were all her pride


Then our unhappy sex became
 Giddy coquettish proud and vain
’Till true religion’s sacred beam
 To us restored our souls again


And hence tho’ fairest of the fair
 The British dames lip vain we find
None with their outward charms compare
 None with the beauties of their mind