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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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1802.10
A Sonnet
William Cunningham
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXII (1802), p. 1141

Occasioned by seeing in the Newspapers, that in France the Gallies have only succeeded the Guillotine; that four or five hundred a week are condemned to them; and that an English Gentleman in Paris[1] counted eight Carts, containing from 20 to 30 Persons each, who were going to the Gallies. So far does the present Gallic Liberty exceed its old Monarchichal Disposition.

Is this the boasted Liberty of France!
    Or this the land where Freedom holds her reign!
Was it for this she shook Rebellion's lance!
    Was it for this her thousand sons were slain!

Do gifts like these from Bonaparte flow,
    Whose name, whose actions soar to Fame's
                       high tower!
Or does he plunge his wretched slaves in woe,
    And wade thro' slaughter to unbounded
                         power!

Britain, let Gallia's fall thy Sons inspire
    To prize that Liberty their fires bestow'd;
Nations around thy happy state admire;
    Ne'er was it thine to brook Oppression's
                          load.

Hail, Britons, hail! at Freedom's call arise;
Sacred preserve that Liberty ye prize.

Magberabeg, near Dromore,
November 13, 1802.


Notes

1. After the Treaty of Amiens March 27, 1802, many Britons, including Charles Fox, visited Paris.

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September 2004

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