Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2022
Verses occasioned by reading in a Morning Paper, that at a Meeting convened in London, for some charitable purpose, “among other Ladies we observed a considerable number, whose Drab Bonnets bespoke them Members of the Society of Friends.”
They may cant of costumes, and of brilliant head-dresses,
A la Grecque—a la Françoise—or what else they will;
They may talk of tiaras, that glitter on tresses
Enwreath’d by the Graces, and braided with skill:
Yet to my partial glance, I confess the drab bonnet
Is the loveliest of any,—and most when it bears
Not only the bright gloss of neatness upon it—
But, beneath,—the expression Benevolence wears!
Then let Fashion exult in her vapid vagaries,
From her fascinations my favourite is free:
Be Folly's the head-gear that momently varies,
But a Bonnet of drab is the sweetest to me.
Though stately the ostrich-plume, gracefully throwing
Its feathery flashes of light on the eye;
Though tasty and trim the straw-bonnet, when glowing
With its ribbons so glossy of various dye:—
Yet still I must own, although none may seem duller
Than a simple drab Bonnet to many a gaze—
It is, and it will be, the favourite colour,
Around which my fancy delightedly plays:—
And it well suits my muse with a garland to wreathe it,
And echo its praises with gratefullest glee,—
For, knowing the goodness that oft lurks beneath it,
The Bonnet of drab beats a turban with me.
Full many a rare gem,—the poet has chaunted,—
In the depths of the ocean flings round it its sheen;—
And many a floweret, its beauties unvaunted,
Springs to life, sheds its perfume, and withers unseen:
And well do I know that our sisterhood numbers,
Array’d in the liv’ry that coxcombs reprove,—
Forms as fair as e’er rose on a poet's sweet slumbers,
And faces as lovely as ever taught love.
This I know, and have felt;—and, thus knowing and feeling,
A recreant minstrel I surely should be,
If, my heart-felt attachment ignobly concealing,
The Bonnet of drab past unhonour’d by me!
- Selected Poems of Bernard Barton, the 'Quaker Poet' , pp. 48 - 50Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2020