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Wars > Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815)

Riot; or, half a loaf is better than no bread

(25) Riot; or, half a loaf is better than no bread

                                          CHEAP REPOSITORY.

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                                       THE RIOT ;

               Or, Half a Loaf is Better than no Bread.

In a DIALOGUE between JACK ANVIL and TOM HOD.—To the Tune of " A Cobler there was," &c.

                                 TOM.

COME, neighbours, no longer be patient and quiet,
Come let us go kick up a bit of a riot ;
I am hungry, my lads, but I've little to eat,
So we'll pull down the mills, and seize all the meat :
I'll give yon good sport, boys, as ever you saw,
So a fig for the Justice, a fig for the law.
                                                             Derry down.

Then his pitchfork Tom seized—Hold a moment, says Jack,
I'll shew thee thy blunder, brave boy, in a crack,
And if I don't prove we had better be still,
I'll assist thee straitway to pull down every mill ;
I'll shew thee how passion thy reason does cheat,
Or I'll join thee in plunder for bread and for meat.

What a whimsey to think thus our bellies to fill,
For we slop all the grinding by breaking the mill !
What a whimsey to think we shall get more to eat
By abusing the butchers who get us the meat !
What a whimsey to think we shall mend our spare diet,
By breeding disturbance, by murder and riot.

Because I am dry, 'twould be foolish, I think,
To pull out my tap, and to spill all my drink ;
Because I am hungry, and want to be fed,
That is sure no wise reason for wasting my bread ;
And just such wise reasons for mending their diet
Are us'd by those blockheads who rush into riot.

I would not take comfort from others' distresses,
But still I would mark how God our land blesses ;
For tho' in Old England the times are but sad,
Abroad, I am told, they are ten times as bad :
In the land of the Pope there is scarce any grain,
And 'tis still worse, they say, both in Holland and Spain.

Besides I must share in the wants of the times,
Because I have had my full share in its crimes ;
Mean time to assist us, by each Western breeze,
Some corn is brought daily across the salt seas;
Of tea we'll drink little, of gin none at all,
And we'll patiently wait, and the prices will fall.

But if we're not quiet, then let us not wonder
If things grow much worse by our riot and plunder ;
And let us remember whenever we meet,
The more ale we drink, boys, the less we shall eat.
On those days spent in riot no bread you brought home,
Had you spent them in labour you must have had some.

A dinner of herbs, says the wise man, with quiet,
Is better than beef amid discord and riot.
If the thing can't be help'd, I'm a foe to all strife,
And I pray for good times ev'ry night of my life,
But in matters of state not an inch will I budge,
Because I conceive I'm no very good judge.

But tho' poor I can work, my brave boy, with the best,
Let the Crown and the Parliament manage the rest ;
I lament the slack trade and the taxes together,
Tho' I verily think they don't alter the weather.
The Crown, as I take it, with very good reason,
May prevent a bad law, but can't help a bad season.

The Parliament Men, altho' great is their power,
Yet they cannot contrive us a bit of a shower ;
And I never yet heard, tho' our Rulers are wise,
That they know very well how to manage the skies ;
For the best of them all, as they know to their cost,
Can't send us a sunshine, or hinder a frost.

And tho' I've no money, and tho' I've no lands,
I've a head on my shoulders, and a pair of good hands ;
So I'll work the whole day, and on Sundays I'll seek
At church how to bear all the wants of the week,
The gentlefolks too will afford us supplies ;
They'll subscribe—& they'll give up their puddings & pies.

When the Corsican Tyrant, of France was the chief,
We first beat the country, then snapp'd up the thief ;
The French we have conquer'd, then say, my brave brother,
Shall the conquerors quarrel and fight with each other ?
And think you, my boys, that the times will be mended
By spoiling the land we so bravely defended ?

Then before I'm induc'd to take part in a riot.
I'll ask this short question—What shall I get by it ?
So I'll e'en wait a little, till cheaper the bread,
For a mittimus hangs o'er each rioter's head ;
And when of two evils I'm ask'd which is best,
I'll rather be hungry than hang'd, I protest.
                                                             Derry down.

Quoth Tom, thou art right ; if I rise. I'm a Turk,
So he threw down his pitchfork, and went to his work.

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