1793.7 - "The Humble Petition of the British Jacobins to their Brethren of France"

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

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

1793.7
The Humble Petition of the British Jacobins to their Brethren of France
Anon
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXIII (July 1793), frontispiece

While to you we true children of Liberty pray,
    Great Tag, Rag, and Bobtail, attend;
Who with heads on your pikes so facetiously play,
    Mirth and murder so merrily blend!

O ye boasts of proud France, ye bright lights of the earth,
    Who, in fine philosophical speeches,
Prove the only criterion of virtue and worth
    Consists in the bareness of breeches!

Brother Jacobins, listen; and, if you can cease
    To gaze on your glorious Convention,
Where the point of the dagger best propagates peace,
    Where concord grows out of contention;

Cast a glance of compassion on Britons, who lie
    By old superstitions opprest;
For, ah! still like the night-mare, an incubus fly,
    Sits Monarchy squat on our breast!

Come, come, at our call; nor thus let us beneath
    Such hateful incumbency groan.
In the hearts of our rulers your poignards, oh, sheathe,
    And hoist a red cap on our ________![1]

Ah! consider how many long months are past over,
    And how many ling'ring long days,
Since you promised to hasten from Calais to Dover,
    Wretched Britons from slavery to raise;

To reclaim us at length from political vice,
    To write reformation in blood;
To bestow on us liberty not without lice,
    All, all, for our ultimate good.

For, Britons, alas! are a nation of slaves,
    More full of plumb-pudding than wit,
Warm with rapture, while Burke against anarchy raves,
    Ever licking the spittle of Pitt!

Ah! think, gallant Frenchmen, while thus you delay,
    What misfortunes your friends here betide:
Ah! think how the tyrants their leaders dismay,
    Forc'd in holes, like true adders, to hide!

See, see, your own Frost[2], through the pill'ry on high,
    Thrust out his deplorable phiz;[3]
While Mock'ry with loll'd tongue stands insultingly by,
    While dangers and death round him whiz!

See the sad Presbyterian, so gentle and meek,
    To the wilds of America roam;
With his wife and his daughters, preparing to seek,
    Near naked lewd Indians, an home!

Sweet soul, of whose grievances great is the sum,
    Who from Test-laws[4] can get no release,
Who would deluge his country with blood, to become
    An Exciseman or Justice of Peace!

Oh! then to our aid of those heroes, that die
Without dread of the claws of old Scratch,[5]
Who laugh and blaspheme, as to slaughter they fly,
A few odd hundred thousand dispatch!


Notes

1. [throne].

2. John Frost, British radical attorney, sentenced to the pillory and to prison for 18 months, on a charge of uttering seditious statements. E.P. Thompson in The Making of the English Working Class, p. 114, suggests that the real reason for Frost's punishment was that he was an English delegate to the French Assembly.

3. Face.

4. Laws which made eligibility to serve in public office depend on sworn allegiance to the established religion.

5. A name for the devil.

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

Published @ RC

September 2004

Country