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Ye, whom the seeming good think sin to pity:
Ye poor despis'd, abandon'd vagabonds,
Whom vice, as usual, has turn'd o'er to ruin.
-O, but for kind, tho' ill-requited friends,
I had been driven forth like you forlorn,
The most detested, worthless wretch among you.
[These lines were found in a note-book of the Poet's,
written in early life.]
Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace,
That press the soul, or wring the mind with
Beyond comparison, the worst are those [anguish,
That to our folly or our guilt we owe.
In every other circumstance, the mind
Has this to say-'It was no deed of mine ;'
But when to all the evil of misfortune
This sting is added-' Blame thy foolish self,'
Or, worser far, the pangs of keen remorse;
The torturing, gnawing consciousness of guilt-
Of guilt, perhaps, where we've involved others;
The young, the innocent, who fondly loved us,
Nay more, that very love their cause of ruin!
O burning hell! in all thy store of torments,
There's not a keener lash!
Lives there a man so firm, who, while his heart
Feels all the bitter horrors of his crime,
Can reason down its agonizing throbs;
And after proper purpose of amendment,
Can firmly force his jarring thoughts to peace?
O, happy, happy, enviable man!
O glorious magnanimity of soul!
On the Birth-day of Prince Charles Edward.
[Burns having been present at a meeting held at Edinburgh, on the 31st Dec. 1787, to celebrate the birth-day of the unfortunate Prince Charles Edward, and being appointed poet-laureate for the occasion, he produced an ode, of which an extract is here presented to the reader.]
False flatterer, Hope, away!
Nor think to lure us as in days of yore;
We solemnize this sorrowing natal day,
To prove our loyal truth-we can no more,
And, owning Heaven's mysterious sway,
Submissive, low, adore.
Ye honour'd, mighty dead!
Who nobly perish'd in the glorious cause,
Your King, your country, and her laws!
From great Dundee, who smiling victory led,
And fell a martyr in her arms,
(What breast of northern ice but warms?) To bold Balmerino's undying name,
Whose soul of fire lighted at heav'n's high flame, Deserves the proudest wreath departed heroes claim.
Not unreveng'd your fate shall be,
It only lags the fatal hour;
Your blood shall with incessant cry
Awake at last th' unsparing power.
As from the cliff, with thund'ring course,
The snowy ruin smokes along
With doubling speed and gathering force, 'Till deep it crashing whelms the cottage in the So vengeance
Spoken by Miss Fontenelle, on her Benefit Night,
Dec. 4, 1795, at the Theatre, Dumfries.
STILL 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
'I know your bent-these are no laughing times: Can you but Miss, I own I have my fears,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-asiance 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 fix'd 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!
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, Measur❜st in desperate thought a rope-thy
Or, where the beetling cliff o'erhangs the deep,
Peerest to meditate the healing leap
Would'st 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,
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.
THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN:
An Occasional Address spoken by Miss Fontenelle on her
WHILE Europe's eye is fix'd on mighty things,
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;
Amid this mighty fuss, just let me mention,
The Rights of Woman merit some 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,
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-
Now, thank our stars! these 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 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 constitutions,
With bloody armaments and revolutions;
Let Majesty your first attention summon,
Ah! ca ira! the Majesty of Woman!
Written under the Portrait of Fergusson, the Poet, in a copy of that Author's Works presented to a young Lady in Edinburgh, March 19, 1787.
CURSE on ungrateful man, that can be pleas'd,
And yet can starve the author of the pleasure!
O thou my elder brother in misfortune,
By far my elder brother in the muses,
With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!
Why is the bard unpitied by the world,
Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?
THE HENPECKED HUSBAND.
CURS'D be the man, the poorest wretch in life,
The crouching vassal to the tyrant wife!
Who has no will but by her high permission;
Who has not sixpence but in her possession;
Who must to her his dear friend's secret tell,
Who dreads a curtain lecture worse than hell.-
Were such the wife had fallen to my part,
I'd break her spirit, or I'd break her heart:
I'd charm her with the magic of a switch,
I'd kiss her maids, and kick the perverse b―h.