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Anna Jane Vardill

English versus French

The Muses sat on Parnassus’s Peak
           Once in May;

But one spoke Hebrew, another Greek,
One for Arabic took a freak,
Till Love in a pet cried—“Can’t you speak
           English, pray?

Grave Melpomene Greek may teach
Clio studies Etruscan speech,
But with so many tongues for each,
           I’ll not stay.”

Laughing Pallas said, “Cupid, fie!
English is left for you and I—
Nobody cares below the sky
           What we say.

Mars may Mohawk or High-dutch quote,
Venus warbles a Spanish note—
All the Graces for French will vote,
           Si’l vous plait!

Stern Bellona talks German yet,
Nothing but Greek for Jove is fit—
Yet an English tongue is the tongue for wit
           While I stay.”

Merrily spoke the eldest Grace,
Sitting by chance in a Muse’s place,
“I speak the language of ev’ry race
           Ev’ry day.

Mine is the language all men know
When bright eyes sparkle and kind hearts glow;
’Tis the rhetoric they bestow—
           None but they!

’Tis lisp’d in Paris, ’tis sung in Rome,
’Tis worshipp’d in old Athena’s dome—
’Tis the nation’s voice where’er I roam
           If I sway.

Let us be French in the Thuilleries,
Romans in Rome, and Greeks in Greece;
But when at home we sit at ease,
With Muses and Graces and friends like these,
           Speak English, pray!”


The European Magazine, Vol. 72, December 1817, p. 551