"Perish the masses for a burning soul, / That never yet extinguish'd half a coal!"

— Wolcot, John, pseud. Peter Pindar, (1738-1819)

Place of Publication
Printed for T. Evans and Robertson and Berry
"Perish the masses for a burning soul, / That never yet extinguish'd half a coal!"
Metaphor in Context
Hear with what blasphemy this France behaves!
'Rome, I despise thee: all thy popes are knaves;
Thy cardinals and priests the earth encumber--
Avaunt the saints, and all such holy lumber!
Chop off their heads; away the legs and toes:
Away the wonder-working tooth and nose:
Away the wonder-working eyes and tears,
The vile imposture of a thousand years!
Calves' heads, pigs' pettitoes, perform as well,
Raise from the dead, and plagues and devils expel.
Saint Genevieve no longer is divine--
The wise Parisians mock her worm-gnaw'd shrine;
Whose coffin planks that could such awe inspire,
May go to light the kitchen-wench's fire.
Saint Jail, Saint Whip, Saint Guillotine, Saint Rope,
Possess (we think) more virtue than the pope.
My wool-comber, my saddler, and my hatter
No more Saint Blaize, Saint James, Saint Saviour flatter:
My carpenter, my farrier, and my furrier,
My fishmonger, my butcher, baker, currier,
And eke a hundred trades besides, no more
Bow to those marvel-mongers, and adore.
Hang me,' the barber cries, 'if I'm the fool
To trim for nought the Virgin Mary's poll!'
'Burn me,' cries Crispin, 'if I don't refuse
To find the gentlewoman in her shoes!'
'Curse me,' the mercer cries, 'if I give gowns,
To be the laughing-stock of all our towns!'
'Damn me,' the hosier roars, 'if 'tis not shocking,
That I should give the woman's legs a stocking!
'And why,' the linen man exclaims, 'a pox,
Should I, forsooth, be forc'd to find her smocks?
No more shall bumpkins near the altar place
Fair veal and mutton, for th' Almighty's grace;
Grace to increase the loves of bulls and rams,
And make more families of calves and lambs;
No more shall capons too for grace be swapp'd,
By priests ador'd, and in a twinkling snapp'd.
My bumpkins, once such fools, think wiser now,
That God without their aid can bless the cow,
With due fertility the poultry keep,
And kindle love sufficient for the sheep.
On their past folly with amaze they stare,
And mock the solemn mummery of pray'r;
No more on Anthony's once hallow'd feast,
The horse and ass shall travel to be blest;
No more shall Hodge's prong and shovel start,
Boot, saddle, bridle, wheelbarrow, and cart;
No more in Lent shall wiser Frenchmen starve,
While God affords them a good fowl to carve.
Away with fasts--a fool could only hatch 'em--
Frenchmen, eat fowls, wherever you can catch 'em.
Let not the fear of hell your jaws control--
A capon, trust me, never damn'd a soul.
Heav'n kindly sends to man the things man chooses;
And he's an impious blockhead who refuses.
Melt all the bells to cannon with their grace;
And, 'stead of demons, let them Austrians chase.
Away with relics, holy water, oils,
At which Credulity herself recoils!
Lo, Kellerman's and Custine's gun-clad pow'r
Will do more wonders with their iron show'r,
Than all the saints and crosses of the nation,
Since saints and crosses grew a foolish fashion.
Let crucibles and crucifixes join,
And silver saints perform their feats in coin;
Make a good rubber of the Virgin's wig--
Out with her ear-rings, and the dame unrig;
Sell off her gowns and petticoats of gold!
A piece of timber need not fear the cold.
Out with the priests, to lust's wild phrensy fed,
Who put the bridegroom and the bride to bed;
One eye to Heav'n with sanctity applied,
The other leering on the blushful bride;
Who loads her in hot fancy with caresses,
And cuckolds the poor bridegroom as he blesses!
Perish the masses for a burning soul,
That never yet extinguish'd half a coal!

No more for sins let pilgrims visit Rome--
Th' Almighty can forgive a rogue at home.
Strike me that purgatory from our creed--
Heav'n wants not fire to clarify the dead.
Break me old Januarius's bottle;
And let Contempt the old impostor throttle!
A truce to pray'rs for saints in Heav'n to hear--
'Tis idle--since not one of them is there.
Away with benedictions--canting matter!
A horsepond is as good as holy water.
Unveil the nuns, and useful make their charms;
And let their prison be a lover's arms.
I scout your porter Peter and his keys,
That ope to ev'ry rogue a pope shall please.
Avaunt the institutions that enslave!
The man who thought of marriage was a knave;
Rais'd a huge cannon against human bliss,
And spoil'd that first of joys, the rapt'rous kiss;
Delicious novelty from Beauty drove,
And made the gloomy state the tomb of Love;
To discord turning what had charm'd the ear:
Converting Burgundy to sour small-beer.
Thus from his bright domain a sun is hurl'd,
To gild a pin-hole, that should light a world.
Exulting Reason from her bondage springs,
Claims Heav'n's wide range, and spreads her eagle wings;
While Superstition, lodg'd with bats and owls,
With Horror, and the hopeless maniac, howls.'
  Thus crieth France!
Searching in HDIS (Poetry)
At least 5 entries in ECCO and ESTC (1793, 1794, 1795).

See Peter Pindar, A Poetical, Serious, and Possibly Impertinent, Epistle to the Pope: Also, a Pair of Odes to his Holiness, on his Keeping a Disorderly House; with a Pretty Little Ode to Innocence (London: T. Evans and Robertson and Berry, 1793). <Link to ESTC><Link to Google Books>

Text from The Works of Peter Pindar, 4 vols. (London: Walker and Edwards, 1816).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.