The Riot (concerning the Gordon Riots)
by James Boswell (1740-1795)
Old England, alas! what is come to thy sons!
Such rioting over the Capital runs
That has not been seen for a cent’ry before.
A rabble like that at a country wake,
When a poor harmless bull is fast tied to a stake,
With a Scot for their leader rush rapidly on
To make at St. Stephen’s their grievances known
Concerning the progress of Babylon’s whore.
From the fields of St. George when speaking at least
To see fifty thousand march just six abreast,
The City might well in confusion be thrown.
Cockades of true blue never more were display’d,
And to grace the procession the bagpipes were play’d.
A more curious mixture did never appear:
Lord George in the van, and Jack Ketch in the rear,
Crying, “Down, down with Popery, down!”
As the peers were assembling this riot begins;
Without blushing they broke the Lord President’s shins,
And the bishops’ silk robes were shamefully tore;
From parliament wigs clouds of powder flew out,
For bagas and full-bottoms were bandied about,
And Germain very fain would have mended his pace
When a full pot of porter came dash in his face
Who never but once was so frighted before.
But heavens be prais’d! the disturbance is o’er;
Lord George safe and snug is lodg’d in the Tower,
Tho’ Bedlam some think full as proper a place.
From hence over Britain may harmony reign,
And London the like ne’er experience again.
When warring abroad, divisions at home
By beating religion’s fanatical drum
On the king’dom have brought the greatest disgrace.