1803 19

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

The Ploughman's Ditty
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXIII (Supp. 1803), pp. 1238-1239
The Patriot's Vocal Miscellany, (Dublin, 1804)
The Anti-Gallican (1804), p. 496
The Shrewsbury Chronicle (November 27, 1807)[1]

The Ploughman's Ditty,

Being an Answer to that foolish Question,

What Have the Poor to Lose?

    Because I'm but poor,
    And slender my store,
That I've nothing to lose is the cry;
    Let who will declare it,
    I vow I can't bear it,
I give all such praters the lie.

    Tho' my house is but small,
    Yet to have none at all,
Would sure be a greater distress, Sir;
    Shall my garden so sweet,
    And my orchard so neat,
Be the pride of a foreign oppressor?

    On Saturday night,
    'Tis still my delight,
With my wages to run home the faster;
    But, if Frenchmen rule here,
    I may look far and near,
But I never shall find a pay-master.

    I've a dear little wife,
    Whom I love as my life;
To lose her I should not much like;
    And 'twould make me run wild,
    To see my sweet child,
With its head on the point of a pike.

    I've my Church too to save,
    And will go to my grave
In defence of a Church that's the best;
    I've my King too, God bless him!
    Let no man oppress him,
For none has he ever opprest.

    British Laws for my guard,
    My cottage is barr'd;
'Tis safe in the light or the dark.
    If the Squire should oppress,
    I get instant redress,
My orchard's as safe as his park.

    My cot is my throne,
    What I have is my own,
And what is my own I will keep.
    Shou'd Boni come now,
    'Tis true I may plough,
But I'm sure that I never shall reap.

    Now do but reflect,
    What I have to protect;
Then doubt if to fight I shall choose—
    King, Church, Babes and Wife,
    Laws, Liberty, Life,—
Now tell me I've nothing to lose.

    Then I'll beat my ploughshare
    To a sword or a spear,
And rush on those desperate men:
    Like a lion I'll fight;
    That my spear, now so bright,
May soon turn to a ploughshare again!


1. This was also circulated as a broadside in 1803; see The Warning Drum, pp. 188-190.

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem