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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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1795.9
Reflections on the Present War
W. W. Deacon
The Morning Post (February 6, 1795)

In vain may Britons sue for Peace,
Fresh obstacles will never cease,
    Their wishes to oppose.
While men direct the Public Weal,
Too high to stoop, too proud to feel,
    For England's bleeding woes.

'Tis Place and Pension bear the sway,
While Power unlicens'd cloggs the way
    To Merit's humble cot;
'Tis Wealth the busy Statesman sires,
He barters, bargains, then retires,
    On what Oppression got.

No comforts for the poor remain,
They hear of friends, of kindred slain,
    In vain their loss deplore;
While Commerce droops her languid head,
And wretched groups, for want of bread,
    Desert their native shore.

While Placemen deck'd in rich array.
Their gaudy luxuries display,
    And dash from door to door;
Unmov'd they view the wretched fates
Of thousands begging at their gates,
    Or welt'ring in their gore.

How little for this State avails,
Whether a Cha--m[1] now prevails,
    Or now a Port---d's[2] nam'd;
If for a scarf, or garter blue,
The same injustice they pursue,
    Which just before they blam'd?

While men the Corpus Act suspend,[3]
On which our Liberties depend,
    Who can from prison get?
Since Freedom's brightest gem is gone,
The rays which once with lustre shone,
    Is now for ever set?

If Crimps and Spies, both night and day,
Are suffer'd on mankind to prey,
    And families divide;
Ah! where is now that sacred claim!
That made with joy each Briton name
    His cot, his castle's pride?

Where Evils are so thick ally'd,
What remedies can be apply'd,
    Lost Comforts to restore;
Since then our Pilot is a P--t,[4]
On rocks and quicksands we shall split,
    And fall to rise no more!

'Tis men and measures must be chang'd,
Or Evils partially arrang'd,
    Are Evils to inflame;
The only sure, efficient plan,
Is to dismiss that haughty man,
    From whom those Evils came.

To call in those of worth approv'd,
Who by their Country are belov'd,
    Respected by her foes;
In short, to sue for speedy Peace,
The wants of thousands to decrease,
    And Plenty's smiles disclose.


Notes

1. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, secretary of state and leader of the ministry in the war between Britain and France 1756-1763.

2. William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, headed the coalition government in 1783, and was an opposition leader.

3. In 1795 the Habeus Corpus Act was suspended.

4. William Pitt, the younger, prime minister.

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September 2004

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