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Work among the fallen as seen in the prison cell

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  • To the Memory of the Unfortunate Miss Burns

    Robert Burns (attr), 1798

    Like to a fading flower in May,
    Which Gardner cannot save,
    So Beauty must, sometime, decay
    And drop into the grave.

    Fair Burns, for long the talk and toast
    Of many a gaudy Beau,
    That Beauty has forever lost
    That made each bosom glow.

    Think, fellow sisters, on her fate!
    Think, think how short her days!
    Oh! Think, and, e'er it be too late,
    Turn from your evil ways.

    Beneath this cold, green sod lies dead
    That once bewitching dame
    That fired Edina's lustful sons,
    And quench'd their glowing flame.


    The earliest definitive textual reference of 'unfortunate' to refer directly to a prostitute.

    Originally posted by Debra A View Post
    Is it solely the press here who have created and promoted this idea of an 'unfortunate class' and lumped all homeless, destitute women in to it, widening the meaning in line with conversations opened up by the Whitechapel murders and the appalling conditions people lived in?
    With the term being used poetically prior to being widely used in the press, I don't think the press created this usage so much as picked up on it. What I think I'm seeing in the textual references isn't a widening of the term 'unfortunate' but a narrowing. In 1813, in the words of Francisco the angry, 'unfortunate' is misused to make 'every hardened malefactor is an unfortunate man, and every callous prostitute an unfortunate woman'. In the latter half on the nineteenth century, the term is widely used to mean or imply prostitution specifically.


    • Originally posted by seanr View Post
      In the latter half on the nineteenth century, the term is widely used to mean or imply prostitution specifically.
      Fascinating discussion, which I have only just been catching up with.

      I think sean's final sentence said it all.

      The examples used to argue against 'an unfortunate' being considered synonymous with 'a prostitute' in the LVP, when the ripper was active, made me smile. They were either from before the Victorian era [1837-1901] or well into the 20th century!

      Francisco, writing in the Bristol Mirror in 1813, on the misapplication of the word unfortunate, would have called this trend 'political correctness gone mad' or 'woke nonsense' in today's parlance. He'd have been positively foaming at the mouth if he was still alive after 1850, to see the term, used as a noun, become commonplace to describe a woman who made ends meet by, er, making ends meet. He'd have calmed down a bit after the Old Queen died, at least until the hard edges of 'prostitutes' were once again softened to become 'sex workers'.

      Where would any of us be, without the humble euphemism to inject a little empathy when needed?



      Last edited by caz; 03-29-2022, 05:14 PM.
      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov