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Except good sense and social glee,
I marked nought uncommon.
I watch'd the symptoms o' the great,
The arrogant assuming ;
Mair than an honest ploughman.
Then from his lordship I shall learn,
One rank as weel's another;
For he but meets a brother.
THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
PROLOGUE SPOKEN BY MISS FONTENELLE ON HER
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,
First, in the Sexes' intermix'd connexion,
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,
Our second Right—but needless? here is caution,,
For Right the third, our last, our best, our dearest,
4 Must fall before. 5 And thence. * An ironical allusion to the Saturnalia of the Caledonian Hunt.
ADDRESS, SPOKEN BY MISS FONTENELLE,
ON HER BENEFIT-NIGHT, DECEMBER 4, 1795,
AT THE THEATRE, DUMFRIES.
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!
Firm as my creed, Sirs, 'tis my fixed belief,
Thou man of crazy care and ceaseless sigh,
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
To sum up all, be merry, I advise ;