1769
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Liberty.

London Chronicle (16 September 1769) 267.

Dr. Yhoull


This parody of Gray's Installation Ode makes what must be one of the earlier references to a "smoke-filled room": "Ye brown o'er-arching roof, | To best Virginia-proof, | Where Politicians chit chat with delight." The complete title is given as "Ode to Liberty, intended to be performed in the Matted Gallery Society, on Monday Evening the 2d of October, 1769. Written by Dr. Yhoull, and set to Musick by Dr. Doglish." I have not identified the poet.

The headnote alludes to the several odes on the Shakespeare Jubilee: "As you have frequently of late favoured the Publick with several Installation, Jubilee, and other Odes, I flatter myself the following will not be unacceptable to many of your Readers, the subject being at present the great object of every Englishman's pursuit; and which will also particularly oblige the Members of the Patriotick Society before whom it will be performed. Yours, &c. GINGERBREAD, Newcastle."

James Boswell: "The London Chronicle was the only news-paper he [Johnson] constantly took in, being brought, the office of reading it aloud was assigned to me. I was diverted by his impatience. He made me pass over so many parts of it, that my task was very easy. He would not suffer one of the petitions to the King about the Middlesex election to be read" 1769; in Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:48.

W. J. Courthope: "For at least a hundred years satires had been developing itself as the chief literary weapon of offense in the civil conflicts of a free nation, and from the very first it had been distinguished by a strong personal and party character. Cleveland's bitter invectives against the Scots and the English Presbyterians were followed by Dryden's assaults on Shaftesbury and his Whig followers, and these had been outdone by the intense personality of Pope's vivisection of the Dunces. But in all those instances some pretence of lofty principle lifted the use of satire above the level of mere lampoon to a more generous plane of thought.... But satire in the reign of George III. was seldom inspired by anything higher than a factious motive. Such popularity as it enjoyed — and this was often immense — was due to the excitement of transient popular emotions or to the enmities of private individuals, and as these vanished, the point of the satire itself was lost to posterity. Of this tendency the most striking example is the satire of Churchill" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 5:226-27.



AIR.
Hence! avaunt! 'tis patriotic ground;
The steady paths of freedom let us keep;
No ministerial agent will be found
Hardy enough to enter here, — to peep.

CHORUS.
Celestial Liberty now walks her round,
Hence! avaunt! 'tis patriotic ground.

RECITATIVE.
From yon high realms of Empyrean day,
Wrapt in celestial robes, and hand in hand,
E'en Sydney's self, bends from his fear sublime,
And shakes his head, and listens to our rhime.
What is all the pomp and pow'r,
Which the Great so much admire;
Should Liberty e'er quit our shore,
Magna Charta's set on fire.

AIR.
Ye brown o'er-arching roof,
To best Virginia-proof,
Where Politicians chit chat with delight,
Oft at midnight hour,
You've seen us strut this floor,
And sagely set our blundering Statesmen right.

RECITATIVE.
Let us drink to G—n's fall,
With the K—es that haunt Whitehall.
Scorning th' arts of each Court elf,
'Founded on honour, Wilkes is still himself.'

AIR.
Rejoice, ye Capadosians, rejoice,
Rear up your noses high, exalt your voice;
The voice of freedom, and on ev'ry tongue,
Let strains of Liberty in thund'ring peals be rung.

GRAND CHORUS.
Oh! Diddledo, Diddeldo, Diddledolarey!
See a Chief Justice exalted in Airey.

[p. 267]