When news reached Calcutta in the spring of 1780 that the American rebels/revolutionaries had signed a treaty with France, and that France would be joining the war against Great Britain, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette published the following satirical poem. Poetry was a common way of expressing political and social views in the 18th century.
It compared Americans to frogs and the French king to a stork. Americans’ initial joy would turn to sorrow, he wrote, when they realized that the French King loved nothing more than to eat frogs!
This poem is significant as a witty example of how English in another distant corner of the British Empire thought of the “treasonous” Americans.
Rejoice, Americans, rejoice!
Praise ye the Lord with heart
The treaty’s sign’d with faithful France,
And now like Frenchmen, sing and
But when Joy gives way to reason
And friendly hints are not [akin to] treason
Let me as well as I am able,
Present your Congress with a fable.
[Tied down] with happiness, the frogs
[Sedition] croak’d through all their bogs
And then to Jove the restless race,
Made out their melancholy case
Fam’d as we are for faith, and pray’r,
We merit sure peculiar care,
But can we think great good was meant us
When legs for Governors were sent us?
With numbers crushed they fell upon,
And caused great fear; — till one by one
As courage came, we boldly faced ‘em
Then [heaped] upon ‘em, and disgraced ‘em
“Great Jove”, they croak’d, “no longer
None but ourselves are fit to rule us:
We are too large, too free a nation,
To be incumber’d with taxation.
We pray for peace but wish confusion
Then right or wrong a revolution!
Our hearts can never bend t’obey;
Therefore no King—and more we’ll
Jove smil’d, and that to their fate resign’d
The restless, thankless, rebel kind.
Left to themselves they went to work;
First signed a treaty with King Stork,
Who swore that they with his alliance,
To all the world might bid defiance.
—Of lawful rule there was an end on it
And frogs were henceforth independent
At which the croakers, one and all,
Proclaim’d a feast and festival!
But joy today brings grief tomorrow;
Their feasting o’er, now enters sorrow
The Stork grew hungry, long’d for fish!
The Monarch could not have his wish
In rage he to the marshes flies;
And made a meat of his allies;
Then grew so fond of well-fed frogs
He made a larder of the bogs!
Say, Yankies, don’t you feel compunction,
At your unnatural, rash conjunction?
Can love for you in him take root,
Who’s Catholic and absolute?
I’ll tell these croakers how he’ll treat ‘em
Frenchmen, like storkes, love—frog
to eat ‘em.