1814
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Fr-nc-s's Feast: or the Jacobin Journalists.

Posthumous Parodies and other Pieces, composed by several of our most celebrated Poets, but not published in any former Edition of their Works.

Horace Twiss


A Tory satire on the reformer Sir Francis Burdett (1770-1844) representative for Westminster in Parliament: "Any grievance is a treasure, | A patriot's instrument and pleasure; | Rich the treasure, | Sweet the pleasure, | Sweet a charge in Parliament" p. 16. The themes in this burlesque of Dryden's Alexander's Feast are the traditional fare of City politics, much as the series of Dryden burlesques had been, for half a century, standard fare in London newspapers — where Horace Twiss's poem may first have appeared. The minstrel's part in this poem is given to the radical journalist William Cobbett, who had employed the pseudonym "Peter Porcupine." Twiss had written for the Morning Chronicle, after which he was a parliamentary reporter for the Times before becoming an MP himself.

The complete title is given as: "Sir Fr-nc-s's Feast: or the Jacobin Journalists. An Ode for the Anniversary of a Westminster Election, being a Paraphrase of Alexander's Feast, or the Triumph of Music, by John Dryden." The volume of parodies, anonymously published, reprints its orginals at the foot of the page, and is illustrated with satirical notes.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "What Murray's, in Albermarle-street, was for Tory literati and politicians in London — a pleasant lounging-place, where public affairs, books, and personal gossip, supplied the conversation — Ridgeway's, in Piccadilly, was for the Whigs. To this hour, both places retain this distinctive character" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:131n.



'Twas at a feast, giv'n to their Baronet
By his own factious set,
Placed by the chairman's side,
Sate Piccadilly's pride,
With airs of coy regret.
His noisy friends were ranged about,
With dirty shirts, and pots of heady stout:
Meet dress, meet drink, for such a rout!
The valiant C—chr—ne, by his side,
Sate, snappish, yet self-satisfied,
In naval garb and northern pride.
Happy, happy, happy day!
None but the mob,
None but the mob,
None but the mob are fit to sway!

C—bb—tt, exalted high,
Amid that unwash'd train,
Roar'd lies and libels out amain;
Yet still he 'scapes the pillory,
And sells the sland'rous strain.
The king he first assail'd:
Gold, in this reign, he said, had fail'd;
(For gold such patriots ever rail'd!)
Your flimsy notes, he cried, bely a King:
Old England was another thing,
When her great Monarch had a mint,
And stamp'd an image of himself, the money of the world!
The gaping mob admire the lofty sounds:
"B—rd—tt and bullion!" all the street rebounds;
With ravish'd ears
The Bar'net hears,
Affects to rouse
The Commons House,
And wake the torpid Peers.

The Muse of C—bb—tt then extoll'd the drabs and rogues,
Whom Cold-bath prison disembogues:
From them the Bar'net's honours flow:
Salt-box play, and whistle blow!
Deck'd with St. Giles's graces,
They shew their greasy faces.
They come! stop, salt-box! whistle, cease to blow!
Cold-bath prison disembogues
Glorious food for discontent;
Any grievance is a treasure,
A patriot's instrument and pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet a charge in Parliament.

Swell'd with the puff,
Sir Fr—nk grew vain,
Spoke all his speeches o'er again,
And thrice he d—d the Ministers, and thrice the war in Spain.
C—bb—tt saw the madness rise,
His open mouth, his rolling eyes,
And, while he heav'n and earth defied,
Chang'd the tune, and check'd his pride.
He chose an awkward story,
To damp his blazing glory:
He sang this chief, so fond of pow'r,
With notable disgrace,
Taken, taken, taken, taken,
Taken by the Speaker's mace,
And caged within the Tow'r:
Afraid, at his return, to meet
Th' expectant rabble in the street,
He skulks incog to Piccadilly—
Did ever patriot look so silly?
Long, long, and longer grows the hero's face:
He meditates, in sullen mood,
On fickle popularity:
He'd blush, if blush reformer could,
And lets the toast go by!

Fierce Porcupine was pleas'd to find
The lust of pow'r not far behind:
For humbled patriots secretly
Seek their amends in tyranny.
Leaving all the past disgrace,
Now he fans the wish for place.
"Virtue," quoth he, "'s toil and trouble,
Opposition but a bubble,
Toiling still, yet ever craving,
Pow'rless still, though still annoying:
If a seat be worth the having,
Sure a place were worth enjoying!
Then stickle staunchly for the Crown,
And help to hoot both parties down."
The many shout applause, and swell his passion—
So stiff Prerogative returns to fashion.
The Bar'net cried, "Prerogative again!"
Toasted the Regent,
Play'd the obedient,
And smiled and wish'd, smiled and wish'd,
Smiled and wish'd, and smiled again:
Till, in a dream of pow'r he closed his eyes,
And slept, thrice blest in his fool's paradise.

Now raise the factious roar again!
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain!
Fire him with his old ambition;
And shake him with a larum of sedition!
Hark! the loved sound of faction
Wakes him to riot:
He scorns to sit quiet,
And again he arms for action.
Reform, reform! fierce C—bb—tt cries:
See the multitude meet!
See the bludgeons they rear,
How they wave in the air,
And the mud that they pelt through the street!
Behold a noisy band,
Each a yard in his hand!—
Linen-drapers these, disappointed of seats,
Who have made retreats
From election defeats.
Give, the chances due
To the bustling crew:
Hark, hark, how they lift their voices on high—
How they rail at the Treasury lures,
And envied profits of the sinecures!

The democrats clap with a covetous joy,
And the Chief seized a candle, with zeal to destroy.
Mrs. Cl—rke led the way
To light him to his prey,
At once another Helen and another Guy!

Thus, long ago,
Before the Statesman was brought low,
While Dr—k—rd yet had made no stir
C—bb—tt's bold speech or register,
(A sounding liar)
Could half persuade a mob to set a street on fire.

At length the pert Exam'ner came,
And mischief took a neater frame.
The quaint conductor, from his wordy store,
Let fly alike at every station,
And polish'd up his defamation,
With small conceits, hard words, and squibs unknown before.
Let C—bb—tt quit the rivalry,
Or both divide the crown:
The town takes both in equally,
And both take in the town!

[pp. 13-23]