Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"On Female Administration" (1788)

On Female Administration.

WELL, gentle dames, though barr'd and bolted fast,

I am, as women will be, free at last;

And where's the right which daring men inherit,

To bind in chains the free-born female spirit!

No--let us keep our order and our charter,

And hold the ribband still above the garter.

Invasion's threat no female heart appals--

Our husbands, they may stand as wooden walls,

While woman, safe one shore, defends the nation,

Herself one general, vast fortification.

High o'er head the standard plume she rears,

For gay recruits, and flattery's volunteers.

While ambush'd cupids lie in wait to kill,

From groves of gauze and battlements of frill.

In aid of us shall come a corps of beaux,

Lost 'twixt two cannon curls each puggish nose;

A gentle band they move, above their tears,

And far as are their caps above their ears.

Say, gay and liberal freemen, won't you then

Commit to ladies what belongs to men?

Trust to our management the constitution,

Your gentle ays will pass the resolution:

But should you equally divide on this,

I am the speaker, and my vote says--yes.


The Federal Herald. June 2, 1788.

One wouldn't necessarily recognize it from the above, particularly with the date of publication falling between the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and its ratification by the States, but it's a digested part from a play. Among the lines left out: "For while this gallant mind the sex can hoast/Need Acts of Parliament defend our coast?"

"The Bird in a Cage, a Comedy, by James Shirley, originally published in 1633, was revived at Covent-Garden for the benefit of Mr. Quick. [...] Mrs. Wells, who performed Eugenia, the principal female character, spoke the following Epilogue, written by Capt. Topham." "British Theatre." Walker's Hibernian Magazine: Or, Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge. June 1786. 318.

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