Mrs. Pownall’s Address to the French Musicians

“Mrs. Pownall’s Address, in behalf of the French Musicians, Delivered on her Benefit Concert Night, at Oeller’s [sic] Hotel Chestnut-Street, Philadelphia:”

During her brief career in the United States, Mary Ann Wrighten Pownall earned a reputation for benevolence. In her concerts she often asked for monetary assistance from patrons for various causes:  victims of fire or other disasters. In this address, published in early American newspapers, she pleads for impecunious  French musicians in the orchestra.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

‘Twas said of Queen Mary, when she died, as was Anatomiz’d, the Word Calais was found engraved on her Heart—I would not vouch for the truth of that assertion; but I should do injustice to my present Feelings, was I not to declare, the exertions made for this evening in my Favor, stamp such an indelible impression, that, Die when I may, the Names of GRATITUDE and PHILADELPHIA will be found on Mine.


Thus far myself—But now ye Blooming Fair,

Another cause demands my utmost care;

The cause of exil’d merit let me plead,

‘Tis Charity and love must sure succeed.


Ladies, to your kind hearts I’ll first appeal;

You’re not expos’d to ‘feel what wretches feel.’

Though modest shame forbids them tell their tale,

Though o’er their poverty she draws the veil;

Yet did I paint the sorrows of those few,

With pity’s tear t’wou’d many a cheek bedew—

But hold, methinks I hear some slanders by

Say, they came here to laugh and not to cry.

“Tis true; the strong rebuke is well apply’d.

I fee its force, and give them leave to chide.

If Ladies you’ll forgive this faint endeavor

To introduce the BAND HERE, to your favor,


Assure yourselves I wou’d not give offence,

When Beauty smiles, all feel its influence,

What say you Sirs;–but put it to the vote,

You can’t see Genius in a thread-bare coat.

Shall it be said, Columbia’s Sons forgot

That Frenchmen in their cause once bravely fought?


Forbid it Fame, forbid it Liberty,

Honor, Religion, every sacred tie;

Say you’ll relieve them, else this little Troop,

Dear as they lov’t, must give up Beef and Soup,

I freely own it puzzles me to tell,

How they can here acquit themselves so well.

You may believe [sic] me, for as I’m a Sinner,

I cou’d not Sing, if I had eat no Dinner.

And these, however gay they try t’appear,

Certainly feel a monstrous craving Here.

But jokes apart, I fear some here may be,

That think, to write is arrogance in me.

And more, that I for Foreigners shou’d plead.

Let such remember, t’as been long agreed,

Who pleases all must have a talk indeed.

While others, who well know that good was mean’t,

Though they condemn the lines, applaud the intent.


If not, I’ve only to lament my fate,

And wish I was an abler Advocate,

But if my ardent pray’rs are hear’d in Heav’n,

You’ll all meet here on Saturday at Seven.

 Early American Imprints Series 1 no 26032