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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1793.11
The Disgusted Patriot
Thomas Day [1]
The Cambridge Intelligencer (September 7, 1793)

By Thomas Day, Esq.

Written during the Late War.

When faithless Senates venally betray,
    When each degenerate noble is a slave,
When Britain falls an unresisting prey,
    What part befits the generous and the brave?

In vain the task to rouse my country's ire,
    And imp once more the stork's[2] dejected wings;
To solitude indignant I retire,
    And leave the world to courtiers, priests,
                            and kings.

Not like the deer, whom, wearied in the race,
    Each leaf astonishes, each breeze appals,
But like the lion, when he turns the chase
    Back on his hunters—and the valiant falls!

Then let untam'd oppression rage aloof
    And rule o'er men who ask not to be freed;
To Liberty I vow this humble roof,
    And he that violates its shade shall bleed!


Notes

1. Thomas Day (1748-1789) was the author of Sanford and Merton (1783). Devoted to Rousseau, Day was actively involved in political reform during the 1770s. His The Dying Negro (1773) was a well-known anti-slavery poem. Although he approved of Pitt's administration, Day retired to the country in 1781. He was a close associate of Erasmus Darwin and figures prominently in Anna Seward's biography of Darwin. This poem was written earlier, probably during the war with America. See James Keirk, Account of theLife and Writings of Thomas Day (London, 1791).

2. This may be a reference to Aesop's fable, in which the stork is "king" and destroyer of the frog nation. See 1804.22, "The Frogs and Crane" and 1808.9, "Jupiter and the Frogs." Also, the stork was regarded as an omen of good luck in England.

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September 2004

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