« ForrigeFortsett »
a very humble one indeed, heaven knows, but still so much as to gag me. What my private sentiments are, you will find out without an interpreo ter.
I have taken up the subject in another view, and the other day, for a pretty actress's benefitnight, I wrote an address, which I will give on the other page, called The Rights of Woman,
THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN.
An occasional address spoken by Miss Fontenelle,
on her benefit-night.
While Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
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, 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. Vol. II.
Now, thank our stars ! these Gothic times are fled; Now, well-bred men-and you are all well-bredMost justly think (and we are much the gainers) Such conduct neither spirit, wit, nor manners*.
For right the third, our last, our best, our dear.
est, 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 that life of life-immortal love. Smiles, glances, sighs, tears, 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 ?
But truce with kings, and truce with constitu
I shall have the honour of receiving your criticisms in person at Dunlop.
To Miss B*****, of YORK.
21st March, 1793. Among many things for which I envy those hale, long-lived old fellows before the flood, is this in particular, that when they met with any body after their own heart, they had a charming long prospect of many, many happy meetings with them in after-life.
* Ironical allusion to the saturnalia of the Caledonian hunt.
Now, in this short, stormy, winter day of our fleeting existence, when you now and then, in the chapter of accidents, meet an individual whose acquaintance is a real acquisition, there are all the probabilities against you, that you shall never meet with that valued character more. On the other hand, brief as this miserable being is, it is none of the least of the miseries belonging to it, that if there is any miscreant whom you hate, or creature whom you despise, the ill run of the chances shall be so against you, that in the overtakings, turnings, and jostlings of life, pop, at some unlucky corner, eternally comes the wretch upon you, and will not allow your indignation or contempt a moment's repose. As I am a sturdy believer in the powers of darkness, I take these to be the doings of that old author of mischief, the devil. It is well known that he has some kind of short-hand way of taking down our thoughts, and I make no doubt, that he is perfectly acquainted with my sentiments, respecting Miss B-; how much I admired her abilities and valued her worth, and how very fortunate I thought myself in her acquaintance. For this last reason, my dear madam, I must entertain no hopes of the very great pleasure of meeting with you again.
Miss Htells me that she is sending a packet to you, and I beg leave to send you the inclosed sonnet, though to tell you the real truth, the sonnet is a mere pretence, that I may have the opportunity of declaring with how much respectful esteem I have the honour to be, &c.
To Miss C****,
August, 1793. Some rather unlooked for accidents have prevented my doing myself the honour of a second visit to Arbeigland, as I was so hospitably invited, and so positively meant to have done.-However, I still hope to have that pleasure before the busy months of harvest begin.
I inclose you two of my late pieces, as some kind of return for the pleasure I have received in perusing a certain MS. volume of poems in the possession of captain Riddel. To repay one with an old song, is a proverb, whose force you, madam, I know, will not allow. What is said of illustrious descent is, I believe, equally true of a talent for poetry: none ever despised it who had pretensions
The fates and characters of the rhyming tribe often employ my thoughts when I am disposed to be melancholy. There is not among all the martyrologies that ever were penned, so rueful a narrative as the lives of the poets.- In the comparative view of wretches, the criterion is not what they are doomed to suffer, but how they are formed to bear. Take a being of our kind, give him a stronger imagination and a more delicate sensi. bility, which between them will ever engender a more ungovernable set of passions than are the usual lot of man; implant in him an irresistible impulse to some idle vagary, such as arranging wild flowers in fantastical nosegays, tracing the grasshopper to his haunt by his chirping song, watching the frisks of the little minnows in the sunny pool, or hunting after the intrigues of butterflies--in short, send him adrift after some pursuit, which shall eternally mislead him from the paths of lucre, and yet curse him with a keener relish than any man living for the pleasures that lucre can purchase ; lastly, fill up the measure of his woes by bestowing on him a spurning sense of his own dignity, and you have created a wight nearly as miserable as a poet. To you, madam, I need not recount the fairy pleasures the muse bestows to counterbalance this catalogue of evils. Bewitching poetry is like bewitching woman ; she has in all ages been accused of misleading mankind from the counsels of wisdom and the paths of prudence, involving them in difficulties, baiting them with poverty, branding them with infamy, and plunging them in the whirling vortex of ruin; yet, where is the man but must own that all our happiness on earth is not worthy the name-that even the holy hermit's solitary prospect of paradisaical bliss is but the glitter of a northern sun, rising over a frozen region, compared with the many pleasures, the nameless raptures that we owe to the lovely queen of the heart of man!
TO JOHN M'MURDO, Esq.
December, 1793. It is said that we take the greatest liberties with our greatest friends, and I pay myself a very high compliment in the manner in which I am going to apply the remark. I have owed you money longer than ever I owed it to any man.-Here is Ker's account, and here are six guineas ; and now, I don't owe a shilling to man-or woman either. But for these damned dirty, dog's-eared little pages*, I had done myself the honour to have waited on you long ago. Independent of the obligations your hospitality has laid me under; the consciousness of your superiority in the rank of man and gentleman, of itself, was fully as much as I could ever make head against ; but to owe you money too, was more than I could face.
I think I once mentioned something of a collection of Scots songs I have, for some years, been
I making : I send you a perusal of what I have got
I could not, conveniently, spare them above five or six days, and five or six glances of them will probably more than suffice you. A very few of them are my own. When you are tir
* Scottish bank notes