The True-Born Englishman

The True-Born Englishman

Part II

Daniel Defoe

THE breed’s described: Now, Satire, if you can,
Their temper show, for manners make the man.
Fierce, as the Briton; as the Roman, brave;
And less inclined to conquer than to save;
Eager to fight, and lavish of their blood,
And equally of fear and forecast void.
The Pict has made ’em sour, the Dane morose;
False from the Scot, and from the Norman worse.
What honesty they have, the Saxons gave them,
And that, now they grow old, begins to leave them.
The climate makes them terrible and bold,
And English beef their courage does uphold;
No danger can their daring spirit pall,
Always provided that their belly’s full.
    In close intrigues their faculty’s but weak,
For generally what e’er they know they speak,
And often their own counsels undermine
By their infirmity, and not design;
From whence the learned say it does proceed,
That English treasons never can succeed;
For they’re so open-hearted, you may know
Their own most secret thoughts, and others too.
    The laboring poor, in spite of double pay,
Are saucy, mutinous, and beggarly,
So lavish of their money and their time,
That want of forecast is the nation’s crime.
Good drunken company is their delight,
And what they get by day they spend by night.
Dull thinking seldom does their heads engage,
But drink their youth away, and hurry on old age.
Empty of all good husbandry and sense,
And void of manners most when void of pence,
Their strong aversion to behaviour’s such,
They always talk too little or too much;
So dull, they never take the pains to think,
And seldom are good-natured, but in drink.
    In English ale their dear enjoyment lies,
For which they’ll starve themselves and families.
An Englishman will fairly drink as much
As will maintain two families of Dutch:
Subjecting all their labour to their pots;
The greatest artists are the greatest sots.
    The country poor do by example live;
The gentry lead them, and the clergy drive:
What may we not from such examples hope?
The landlord is their god, the priest their pope.
A drunken clergy and a swearing bench
Has given the Reformation such a drench,
As wise men think there is some cause to doubt
Will purge good manners and religion out.
    Nor do the poor alone their liquor prize;
The sages join in this great sacrifice;
The learned men who study Aristotle,
Correct him with an explanation bottle;
Praise Epicurus rather than Lysander,
And Aristippus10 more than Alexander.
The doctors, too, their Galen here resign,
And generally prescribe specific wine;
The graduate’s study’s grown an easier task,
While for the urinal they toss the flask;
The surgeon’s art grows plainer every hour,
And wine’s the balm which into wounds they pour.
Poets long since Parnassus have forsaken,
And say the ancient bards were all mistaken.
Apollo’s lately abdicate and fled,
And good King Bacchus governs in his stead;
He does the chaos of the head refine,
And atom-thoughts jump into words by wine:
The inspirations of a finer nature,
As wine must needs excel Parnassus’ water.
    Statesmen their weighty politics refine,
And soldiers raise their courages by wine;
Cecilia gives her choristers their choice,
And lets them all drink wine to clear their voice.
    Some think the clergy first found out the way,
And wine’s the only spirit by which they pray;
But others, less profane than so, agree
It clears the lungs and helps the memory;
And therefore all of them divinely think,
Instead of study, ’tis as well to drink.
    And here I would be very glad to know
Whether our Asgilites may drink or no;
Th’ enlight’ning fumes of wine would certainly
Assist them much when they begin to fly;
Or if a fiery chariot should appear,
Inflamed by wine, they’d have the less to fear.
Even the gods themselves, as mortals say,
Were they on earth, would be as drunk as they;
Nectar would be no more celestial drink,
They’d all take wine, to teach them how to think.
But English drunkards gods and men outdo,
Drink their estates away, and money too.
Colon’s in debt, and if his friends should fail
To help him out, must die at at last in gaol;
His wealthy uncle sent a hundred nobles
To pay his trifles off, and rid him of his troubles;
But Colon, like a true-born Englishman,
Drank all the money out in bright champagne,
And Colon does in custody remain.
Drunk’ness has been the darling of this realm
E’er since a drunken pilot had the helm.
    In their religion they are so uneven,
That each man goes his own by-way to Heaven,
Tenacious of mistakes to that degree
That ev’ry man pursues it separately,
And fancies none can find the way but he:
So shy of one another they are grown,
As if they strove to get to Heaven alone.
Rigid and zealous, positive and grave,
And ev’ry grace but Charity they have.
This makes them so ill-natured and uncivil,
That all men think an Englishman the devil.
    Surly to strangers, froward to their friend;
Submit to love with a reluctant mind.
Resolved to be ungrateful and unkind,
If by necessity reduced to ask,
The giver has the difficultest task;
For what’s bestowed they awkwardly receive,
And always take less freely than they give.
The obligation is their highest grief,
And never love where they accept relief.
So sullen in their sorrow, that ’tis known
They’ll rather die than their afflictions own;
And if relieved, it is too often true
That they’ll abuse their benefactors too;
For in distress, their haughty stomach’s such,
They hate to see themselves obliged too much.
Seldom contented, often in the wrong,
Hard to be pleased at all, and never long.
    If your mistakes their ill opinion gain,
No merit can their favour reobtain;
And if they’re not vindictive in their fury,
’Tis their unconstant temper does secure ye.
Their brain’s so cool, their passion seldom burns,
For all’s condensed before the flame returns;
The fermentation’s of so weak a matter,
The humid damps the fume, and runs it all to water.
So, though the inclination may be strong,
They’re pleased by fits, and never angry long.
     Then, if good-nature shows some slender proof,
They never think they have reward enough,
But, like our modern Quakers of the town,
Expect your manners, and return you none.
    Friendship, th’ abstracted union of the mind,
Which all men seek, but very few can find:
Of all the nations in the universe,
None talk on’t more, or understand it less;
For if it does their property annoy,
Their property their friendship will destroy.
    As you discourse them, you shall hear them tell
All things in which they think they do excel.
No panegyric needs their praise record;
An Englishman ne’er wants his own good word.
His long discourses generally appear
Prologued with his own wond’rous character.
But first to illustrate his own good name,
He never fails his neighbour to defame;
And yet he really designs no wrong—
His malice goes no further than his tongue.
But pleased to tattle, he delights to rail,
To satisfy the lech’ry of a tale.
His own dear praises close the ample speech;
Tells you how wise he is—that is, how rich:
For wealth is wisdom; he that’s rich is wise;
And all men learned poverty despise.
His generosity comes next, and then
Concludes that he’s a true-born Englishman;
And they, ’tis known, are generous and free,
Forgetting and forgiving injury:
Which may be true, thus rightly understood,
Forgiving ill turns, and forgetting good.
    Cheerful in labour when they’ve undertook it,
But out of humour when they’re out of pocket.
But if their belly and their pocket’s full,
They may be phlegmatic, but never dull:
And if a bottle does their brains refine,
It makes their wit as sparkling as their wine.
    As for the general vices which we find
They’re guilty of, in common with mankind,
Satire, forbear, and silently endure;
We must conceal the crimes we cannot cure.
Nor shall my verse the brighter sex defame,
For English beauty will preserve her name,
Beyond dispute, agreeable and fair,
And modester than other nations are:
For where the vice prevails, the great temptation
Is want of money more than inclination.
In general, this only is allowed,
They’re something noisy, and a little proud.
    An Englishman is gentlest in command,
Obedience is a stranger in the land:
Hardly subjected to the magistrate,
For Englishmen do all subjection hate;
Humblest when rich, but peevish when they’re poor,
And think, what e’er they have, they merit more.
    The meanest English ploughman studies law,
And keeps thereby the magistrates in awe;
Will boldly tell them what they have to do,
And sometimes punish their omissions too.
    Their liberty and property’s so dear,
They scorn their laws or governors to fear:
So bugbeared with the name of slavery,
They can’t submit to their own liberty.
Restraint from ill is freedom to the wise;
But Englishmen do all restraint despise.
Slaves to their liquor, drudges to the pots,
The mob are statesmen and their statesmen sots.
    Their governors they count such dangerous things,
That ’tis their custom to affront their kings:
So jealous of the power their kings possest,
They suffer neither power nor king to rest.
The bad with force they easily subdue:
The good with constant clamours they pursue;
And did King Jesus reign, they’d murmur too.
A discontented nation, and by far
Harder to rule in times of peace than war:
Easily set together by the ears,
And full of causeless jealousies and fears:
Apt to revolt, and willing to rebel,
And never are contented when they’re well.
No Government could ever please them long,
Could tie their hands, or rectify their tongue:
In this to ancient Israel well compared,
Eternal murmurs are among them heard.
    It was but lately that they were oppressed,
Their rights invaded, and their laws suppressed:
When nicely tender of their liberty,
Lord! what a noise they made of slavery.
In daily tumult showed their discontent,
Lampooned the King, and mocked his Government.
And if in arms they did not first appear,
’Twas want of force, and not for want of fear.
In humbler tone than English used to do,
At foreign hands for foreign aid they sue.
    William, the great successor of Nassau,
Their prayers heard and their oppressions saw:
He saw and saved them; God and him they praised,
To this their thanks, to that their trophies raised.
But, glutted with their own felicities,
They soon their new deliverer despise;
Say all their prayers back, their joy disown,
Unsing their thanks, and pull their trophies down;
Their harps of praise are on the willows hung,
For Englishmen are ne’er contented long.
    The reverend clergy, too! Who would have thought
That they, who had such non-resistance taught,
Should e’er to arms against their prince be brought,
Who up to Heaven did regal power advance,
Subjecting English laws to modes of France,
Twisting religion so with loyalty,
As one could never live and t’other die.
And yet no sooner did their prince design
Their glebes and perquisites to undermine,
But, all their passive doctrines laid aside,
The clergy their own principles denied;
Unpreached their non-resisting cant, and prayed
To Heaven for help and to the Dutch for aid.
The Church chimed all her doctrines back again,
And pulpit champions did the cause maintain;
Flew in the face of all their former zeal,
And non-resistance did at once repeal.
    The Rabbis say it would be too prolix
To tie religion up to politics:
The Church’s safety is suprema lex.
And so, by a new figure of their own,
Their former doctrines all at once disown;
As laws post facto in the Parliament
In urgent cases have obtained assent,
But are as dangerous precedents laid by,
Made lawful only by necessity.
    The reverend fathers then in arms appear,
And men of God become the men of war.
The nation, fired by them, to arms apply,
Assault their Antichristian monarchy;
To their due channel all our laws restore,
And made things what they should have been before.
But when they came to fill the vacant throne,
And the pale priests looked back on what they’d done;
How English liberty began to thrive,
And Church of England loyalty outlive;
How all their persecuting days were done,
And their deliverer placed upon the throne:
The priests, as priests are wont to do, turned tail;
They’re Englishmen, and nature will prevail.
Now they deplore the ruins they have made,
And murmur for the master they betrayed,
Excuse those crimes they could not make him mend,
And suffer for the cause they can’t defend.
Pretend they’d not have carried things so high,
And proto-martyrs make for Popery.
Had the prince done as they designed the thing,
Have set the clergy up to rule the King,
Taken a donative for coming hither,
And so have left their King and them together,
We had, say they, been now a happy nation.
No doubt we had seen a blessed reformation:
For wise men say ’tis as dangerous a thing,
A ruling priesthood as a priest-rid king;
And of all plagues with which mankind are curst,
Ecclesiastic tyranny’s the worst.
    If all our former grievances were feigned,
King James has been abused and we trepanned;
Bugbeared with Popery and power despotic,
Tyrannic government and leagues exotic:
The Revolution’s a fanatic plot,
William a tyrant, Sunderland a sot:
A factious army and a poisoned nation
Unjustly forced King James’s abdication.
    But if he did the subjects’ rights invade,
Then he was punished only, not betrayed;
And punishing of kings is no such crime,
But Englishmen have done it many a time.
    When kings the sword of justice first lay down,
They are no kings, though they possess the crown:
Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things:
The good of subjects is the end of kings;
To guide in war and to protect in peace;
Where tyrants once commence the kings do cease;
For arbitrary power’s so strange a thing,
It makes the tyrant and unmakes the king.
    If kings by foreign priests and armies reign,
And lawless power against their oaths maintain,
Then subjects must have reason to complain.
    If oaths must bind us when our kings do ill,
To call in foreign aid is to rebel.
By force to circumscribe our lawful prince
Is wilful treason in the largest sense;
And they who once rebel, most certainly
Their God, and king, and former oaths defy.
If we allow no maladministration
Could cancel the allegiance of the nation,
Let all our learned sons of Levi try
This ecclesiastic riddle to untie:
How they could make a step to call the prince,
And yet pretend to oaths and innocence?
    By the first address they made beyond the seas,
They’re perjured in the most intense degrees;
And without scruple for the time to come
May swear to all the kings in Christendom.
And truly did our kings consider all,
They’d never let the clergy swear at all;
Their politic allegiance they’d refuse,
For whores and priests do never want excuse.
But if the mutual contract were dissolved,
The doubts explained, the difficulties solved,
That kings, when they descend to tyranny,
Dissolve the bond and leave the subject free,
The government’s ungirt when justice dies,
And constitutions are non-entities;
The nation’s all a mob; there’s no such thing
As Lords or Commons, Parliament or King.
A great promiscuous crowd the hydra lies
Till laws revive and mutual contract ties;
A chaos free to choose for their own share
What case of government they please to wear.
If to a king they do the reins commit,
All men are bound in conscience to submit;
But then that king must by his oath assent
To postulatus of the government,
Which if he breaks, he cuts off the entail,
And power retreats to its original.
    This doctrine has the sanction of assent
From Nature’s universal Parliament.
The voice of Nature and the course of things
Allow that laws superior are to kings.
None but delinquents would have justice cease;
Knaves rail at laws as soldiers rail at peace;
For justice is the end of government,
As reason is the test of argument.
No man was ever yet so void of sense
As to debate the right of self-defence,
A principle so grafted in the mind,
With Nature born, and does like Nature bind;
Twisted with reason and with Nature too,
As neither one or other can undo.
    Nor can this right be less when national;
Reason, which governs one, should govern all.
Whatever the dialects of courts may tell,
He that his right demands can ne’er rebel,
Which right, if ’tis by governors denied,
May be procured by force or foreign aid;
For tyranny’s a nation’s term of grief,
As folks cry “Fire” to hasten in relief;
And when the hated word is heard about,
All men should come to help the people out.
    Thus England groaned—Britannia’s voice was heard,
And great Nassau to rescue her appeared,
Called by the universal voice of Fate—
God and the people’s legal magistrate.
Ye Heavens regard! Almighty Jove look down,
And view thy injured monarch on the throne.
On their ungrateful heads due vengeance take,
Who sought his aid and then his part forsake.
Witness, ye Powers! It was our call alone,
Which now our pride makes us ashamed to own.
Britannia’s troubles fetched him from afar
To court the dreadful casualties of war;
But where requital never can be made,
Acknowledgment’s a tribute seldom paid.
    He dwelt in bright Maria’s circling arms,
Defended by the magic of her charms
From foreign fears and from domestic harms.
Ambition found no fuel to her fire;
He had what God could give or man desire.
Till pity roused him from his soft repose,
His life to unseen hazards to expose;
Till pity moved him in our cause t’appear;
Pity! that word which now we hate to hear.
But English gratitude is always such,
To hate the hand which doth oblige too much.
    Britannia’s cries gave birth to his intent,
And hardly gained his unforeseen assent;
His boding thoughts foretold him he should find
The people fickle, selfish, and unkind.
Which thought did to his royal heart appear
More dreadful than the dangers of the war;
For nothing grates a generous mind so soon
As base returns for hearty service done.
    Satire, be silent! awfully prepare
Britannia’s song and William’s praise to hear.
Stand by, and let her cheerfully rehearse
Her grateful vows in her immortal verse.
Loud Fame’s eternal trumpet let her sound;
Listen, ye distant Poles and endless round.
May the strong blast the welcome news convey
As far as sound can reach or spirit can fly.
To neighb’ring worlds, if such there be, relate
Our hero’s fame, for theirs to imitate.
To distant worlds of spirits let her rehearse:
For spirits, without the help of voice, converse.
May angels hear the gladsome news on high,
Mixed with their everlasting symphony.
And Hell itself stand in suspense to know
Whether it be the fatal blast or no.

10.    The drunkard’s name for Canary. [D.F.]    [back]

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