Occasional Address, Spoken by Miss Fontenelle, on her benefit night


Still anxious to secure your partial favor, And not less anxious sure, this night than ever, A Prologue, Epilogue, or some such matter, 'Twould vamp my Bill, thought 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, 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 pos-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 desp'rate thought - a rope - thy neck Or, where the bleeting cliffs o'erhang the deep Peerest, to meditate the healing leap: [For shame! For shame! I tell thee, thou art no man: This for a giddy, vain, capricious woman? A creature, though I say't you know, that should not; Ridiculous with her idiot, 'Would and Would not.'] 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; 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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Alison Peebles

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by Alison Peebles.

Themes for this poem

work life humour poetry

Selected for 04 December

The benefit performance in today's selection was given on December 4th, 1793 and these words prefaced it. Louisa Fontenelle was an English actress popular in Scotland. She married the actor/manager who ran Dumfries's Theatre Royal. The star of the Beggar's Opera was just 26 when she died in South Carolina, having emigrated to America.

Donny O'Rourke

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