The Emulation

Original Text: 
Sarah Fyge Egerton, Poems on Several Occasions (1703) (Delmar: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1987), pp. 108-09. PR 3431 E3P6 1987 Robarts Library.
1Say, Tyrant Custom, why must we obey
2The impositions of thy haughty Sway;
3From the first dawn of Life, unto the Grave,
4Poor Womankind's in every State, a Slave.
5The Nurse, the Mistress, Parent and the Swain,
6For Love she must, there's none escape that Pain;
7Then comes the last, the fatal Slavery,
8The Husband with insulting Tyranny
9Can have ill Manners justify'd by Law;
10For Men all join to keep the Wife in awe.
11Moses who first our Freedom did rebuke,
13They're Wise to keep us Slaves, for well they know,
14If we were loose, we soon should make them so.
15We yield like vanquish'd Kings whom Fetters bind,
16When chance of War is to Usurpers kind;
17Submit in Form; but they'd our Thoughts control,
18And lay restraints on the impassive Soul:
19They fear we should excel their sluggish parts,
20Should we attempt the Sciences and Arts;
21Pretend they were design'd for them alone,
22So keep us Fools to raise their own Renown;
23Thus Priests of old their Grandeur to maintain,
24Cry'd vulgar Eyes would sacred Laws Profane.
25So kept the Mysteries behind a Screen,
26There Homage and the Name were lost had they been seen:
27But in this blessed Age, such Freedom's given,
28That every Man explains the Will of Heaven;
29And shall we Women now sit tamely by,
30Make no excursions in Philosophy,
31Or grace our Thoughts in tuneful Poetry?
32We will our Rights in Learning's World maintain,
33Wit's Empire, now, shall know a Female Reign,
34Come all ye Fair, the great Attempt improve,
35Divinely imitate the Realms above:
37And but two Gods that dare pretend to it;
38And shall these finite Males reverse their Rules,
39No, we'll be Wits, and then Men must be Fools.


12] Pentateuch: the first books of the Old Testament. Exodus 21.4-5,7-11, specifies laws concerning the granting of women as property (the previous chapter gives the Ten Commandments). Back to Line
36] Fyge perhaps means Phoebus-Apollo for the two male gods (or Apollo and Mercury). The ten females are Mnemosyne (memory) and her nine daughters the muses: Calliope (epic poerty), Clio (history), Euterpe (lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (choral song and dance), Erato (erotic poetry), Polyhymnia (divine poetry), Urania (astronomy), and Thalia (comedy). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.