"Virtue that breast without a conflict gained, / And easy, like a native monarch, reigned."

— Barbauld, Anna Letitia [née Aikin] (1743-1825)

Work Title
Place of Publication
Joseph Johnson
"Virtue that breast without a conflict gained, / And easy, like a native monarch, reigned."
Metaphor in Context
Such were the notes our chaster Sappho sung,
And every Muse dropped honey on her tongue.
Blest shade! how pure a breath of praise was thine,
Whose spotless life was faultless as thy line;
In whom each worth and every grace conspire,--
The Christian's meekness, and the poet's fire.
Learn'd without pride, a woman without art;
The sweetest manners, and the gentlest heart.
Smooth like her verse her passions learned to move,
And her whole soul was harmony and love.
Virtue that breast without a conflict gained,
And easy, like a native monarch, reigned
On earth still favoured as by Heaven approved,
The world applauded, and Alexis loved.
With love, with health, with fame and friendship blest,
And of a cheerful heart the constant feast,
What more of bliss sincere could earth bestow?
What purer heaven could angels taste below?
But bliss from earth's vain scenes too quickly flies;
The golden cord is broke;--Alexis dies!
Now in the leafy shade and widowed grove
Sad Philomela mourns her absent love;
Now deep retired in Frome's enchanting vale,
She pours her tuneful sorrows on the gale;
Without one fond reserve the world disclaims,
And gives up all her soul to heavenly flames.
Yet in no useless gloom she wore her days;
She loved the work, and only shunned the praise:
Her pious hand the poor, the mourner blest;
Her image lived in every kindred breast.
Thynn, Carteret, Blackmore, Orrery approved,
And Prior praised, and noble Hertford loved;
Seraphic Kenn, and tuneful Watts were thine,
And virtue's noblest champions filled the line.
Blest in thy friendships! in thy death, too, blest!
Received without a pang to endless rest.
Heaven called the saint matured by length of days,
And her pure spirit was exhaled in praise.
Bright pattern of thy sex, be thou my Muse;
Thy gentle sweetness through my soul diffuse:
Let me thy palm, though not thy laurel share,
And copy thee in charity and prayer:--
Though for the bard my lines are far too faint,
Yet in my life let me transcribe the saint.
(ll. 1-44, pp. 96-7)
HDIS (Poetry)
At least 10 entries in ESTC (1773, 1774, 1776, 1777, 1792).

Barbauld, Mrs. (Anna Letitia), 1743-1825. See Poems (London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, 1773). <Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO-TCP>

Some text drawn from The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld. With a Memoir by Lucy Aikin (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Browne, and Green, 1825).

Reading McCarthy, William and Kraft, Elizabeth, eds. Anna Letitia Barbauld: Selected Poetry and Prose (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002).
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.