Queeney's first verses

  • Posted on: 20 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Hester Maria Thrale in 1781 by Sir Joshua Reynolds
I will write down her1 first Attempt at Verses, & have done; She will be thirteen next September, and then they will be no Rareties; if I had not thought these past Specimens of her Wit tolerable in themselves I would not have inserted them—but Burke would have given a Crown apiece for the Quibbles, and as for the insolent Speeches they are very happy ones let who would have said them. The Verses are a Song from Metastasio.

When the Rivers haughty Wave
Breaks from forth its wonted Bed;
Scarce th’affrighted Swain can save
From the Stream his little Shed.

Though he stop one open Shore
Were the Currents swiftly glide,
At a hundred Places more
Rushes the victorious Tide. ——

These Verses of hers at twelve and a half are better than my own Translation of the Spanish Sonnet in the Novel of the Curious Impertinent2 done at thirteen, as for Example

Since frail Woman’s made of Glass
Can my friend be such an Ass
To use brittle Ware like Brass?
Knowing what may come to pass.
Why hazard the Jewel you might defend?
Why strive to ruin what none can mend?
Why pine with needless Pain?
When Generous Jove on Danae pours
Resistless Love in Golden show’rs
He shall not sigh in vain.

It is my Opinion they are likewise better than what follows from the Spanish of Quevedo—it was a Task I remember, & done invita Minerva in the year 1758.—these however are quite litteral

Old Orpheus lost his Wife one Day
Where should he seek her but in Hell !
The likeliest Place to find one’s Wife
As honest Orpheus knew full well.

Singing he sought her all the Way
And could it surpass your Belief,
Had he sung on from Morning till Night
At the Thoughts of so sweet a Relief.

The Beasts that still crowded around
His Voice and Intent to admire;
Much wonder’d his Skill he’d employ
To fetch his Wife out of the Fire.

Pluto too though he gave him his Wife
Thought his Song so uncommonly clever;
That in Friendship he dropt him a hint
How he surely might lose her forever.

T’was therefore that as they return’d
And fancying She stopt on the Road;
He turn’d round at this lucky Excuse
Miss’d his Wife and continued his Road.

Thrice happy old Orpheus say I
For to bury two Wives is not new;
But twice to get quit of the same
Is a Pleasure experienc’d by few.

Written by Hester Lynch Thrale. Published in Thraliana.

Hester Maria Thrale Hester Maria Thrale (Queeney)
17 September 1764 - 31 March 1857
Queeney Images · Family tree · First verses · Coaching accident · Almshouses · Crowmarsh dispute
Nicknames Queeney. Nig. Niggy. Tit. Birdey. Hetty. Samuel Johnson affectionately called her Sweeting.
George Keith Image · Daughter
People Grandfather · Father · Mother · Samuel Johnson · Streatham Worthies · King Louis XVI & Queen Marie Antoinette
Writings about According to Queeney · According to Beryl · The Thrales of Streatham Park · Thraliana