To A Lady Who Said It Was Sinful to Read Novels
(from Simple Poems on Simple Subjects: 1805)
To love these books, and harmless tea,
Has always been my foible,
Yet will I ne’er forgetful be
To read my Psalms and Bible.
Travels I like, and history too,
Or entertaining fiction;
Novels and plays I’d have a few,
If sense and proper diction.
I love a natural harmless song,
But I cannot sing like Handel;
Deprived of such resource, the tongue
Is sure employed — in scandal.
Christian Milne (1773-1816)