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Except good sense and social glee,
An' (what surprised me) modesty,

I marked nought uncommon.

I watch'd the symptoms o' the great,
The gentle pride, the lordly state,

The arrogant assuming ;
The feint a pride, nae pride had he,
Nor sauce, nor state that I could see,

Mair than an honest ploughman.

Then from his lordship I shall learn,
Henceforth to meet with unconcern

One rank as weel's another;
Nae honest worthy man need care
To meet with noble youthful Daer,

For he but meets a brother.

THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN.

PROLOGUE SPOKEN BY MISS FONTENELLE ON HER

BENEFIT NIGHT.*

ZHILE Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty

things, ROVA UN The fate of Empires and the fall of

Kings; While quacks of State must each produce his plan, And even children lisp The Rights of Man;

* Burns sent this Prologue to Miss Fontenelle, with the following letter:

“ Madam,- In such a bad world as ours, those who add to

Amid the mighty fuss, just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit somel attention.

First, in the Sexes' intermix'd connexion,
One sacred Right of Woman is, Protection.-
The tender flower that lifts its head, elate,
Helpless, must fall before the blasts of Fate,

10

VAR. ' claim some small.

the scanty sum of our pleasures, are positively our benefactors. To you, Madam, on our humble Dumfries boards, I have been more indebted for entertainment than ever I was in prouder Theatres. Your charms as a woman would insure applause to the most indifferent Actress, and your theatrical talents would secure admiration to the plainest figure. This, Madam, is not the unmeaning, or insidious compliment of the frivolous or interested ; I pay it from the same honest impulse that the sublime of Nature excites my admiration, or her beauties give me delight.

“ Will the foregoing lines be of any service to you on your approaching benefit night? If they will, I shall be prouder of my Muse than ever. They are nearly extempore: I know they have no great merit; but though they shall add but little to the entertainment of the evening, they give me the happiness of an opportunity to declare how much I have the honor to be," &c.

On forwarding a copy to Mrs. Dunlop, in Dunbar, 1792, he said, “We in this country here have many alarms of the reforming, or rather, the republican spirit, of your part of the kingdom. Indeed, we are a good deal in commotion ourselves. For me, I am a placeman, you know; a very humble one indeed, Heaven knows, but still so much so as to gag me. What my private sentiments are you will find out without an interpreter.

“I have been taking up the subject in another view; and the other day, for a pretty actress's benefit-night, I wrote an address, which I will give on the other page, called, “The Rights of Woman.”

According to Mr. Allan Cunningham, Miss Fontenelle “ was young and pretty, and indulgent in levities both of speech and action."

Sunk on the earth, defac'd its lovely form,
Unless your shelter ward th' impending storm.

Our second Right—but needless? here is caution,,
To keep that Right inviolate's the fashion,
Each man of sense has it so full before him,
He'd die before he'd wrong it—'tis Decorum.
There was, indeed, in far less polish'd days,
A time, when rough rude man had naughty ways;
Would swagger, swear, get drunk, kick up a riot,
Nay, even thus invade a Lady's quiet !- 20
Now, thank our stars ! those Gothic times are fled;
Now, well-bred men—and you are all well-bred !
Most justly think (and we are much the gainers).
Such conduct, neither spirit, wit, nor manners. *

For Right the third, our last, our best, our dearest,
That Right to fluttering female hearts the nearest,
Which even the Rights of Kings in low prostration
Most humbly own?—'tis dear, dear admiration !
In that blest sphere alone we live and move ;
There taste 5 that life of life-immortal Love.— 30
Sighs, tears, smiles, glances, fits, flirtations, airs,
'Gainst such an host what flinty savage dares--
When awful Beauty joins with all her charms,
Who is so rash as rise in rebel arms ?
Then truce with kings, and truce with consti-

tutions,
With bloody armaments and revolutions !
Let Majesty your first attention summon,
Ah! ça ira! THE MAJESTY OF WOMAN!
VaR. 2 idle. 3 Got drunk, would swagger, swear.

4 Must fall before. 5 And thence. * An ironical allusion to the Saturnalia of the Caledonian Hunt.

VOL. II

ADDRESS, SPOKEN BY MISS FONTENELLE,

ON HER BENEFIT-NIGHT, DECEMBER 4, 1795,

AT THE THEATRE, DUMFRIES.

[graphic]

KURO TILL anxious to secure your partial

favour, And not less anxious, sure, this night,

than ever, A Prologue, Epilogue, or some such matter, 'Twould vamp my bill, said I, if nothing better; So sought a Poet, roosted near the skies, Told him I came to feast my curious eyes ; Said, nothing like his works was ever printed ; And last, my Prologue-business slily hinted. “ Ma'am, let me tell you,” quoth my man of

rhymes, “ I know your bent—these are no laughing times: Can you—but, Miss, I own I have my fears, 11 Dissolve in pause--and sentimental tears ? With laden sighs, and solemn-rounded sentence, Rouse from his sluggish slumbers fell Repentance; Paint Vengeance as he takes his horrid stand, Waving on high the desolating brand, Calling the storms to bear him o'er a guilty land ?”

I could no more—askance the creature eyeing, D'ye think, said I, this face was made for crying? I'll laugh, that's poz—nay, more, the world shall

know it; And so, your servant! gloomy Master Poet!

20

Firm as my creed, Sirs, 'tis my fixed belief,
That Misery's another word for Grief;
I also think—so may I be a bride!
That so much laughter, so much life enjoy’d.

Thou man of crazy care and ceaseless sigh,
Still under bleak Misfortune's blasting eye;
Doom'd to that sorest task of man alive-
To make three guineas do the work of five :
Laugh in Misfortune's face-the beldam witch ! 30
Say, you'll be merry, tho' you can't be rich.

Thou other man of care, the wretch in love, Who long with jiltish arts and airs hast strove; Who, as the boughs all temptingly project, Measurist in desperate thought-a rope-thy

neck—
Or, where the beetling cliff o'erhangs the deep,
Peerest to meditate the healing leap :
Wouldst thou be cur'd, thou silly, moping elf?
Laugh at her follies—laugh e'en at thyself:
Learn to despise those frowns now so terrific, 40
And love a kinder—that's your grand specific.

To sum up all, be merry, I advise ;
And as we're merry, may we still be wise.

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