Category Archives: Peter Porcupine

Item of the Day: The Festival of Fools (1797)

In: Porcupine’s Political Censor, For Jan. 1797. Philadelphia: Published by William Cobbett, opposite Christ Church; Where all Letters to the Publsiher are desired to be addressed, post-paid.

THE FESTIVAL OF FOOLS.

“On Thursday, the 6th of February, at O’Eller’s Hotel, the Anniversary of Alliance between the American and French Republics (that is to say French Monarchy) was commemorated by as respectable an association of citizens as was, ever convened, on a similar occasion (well put in). —The company consisted of a large number of members of the Federal and State Legislatures, of citizens of acknowledged patriotism, and foreigners of distinction, among them was Dr. Priestly, (and Citizen Adet.) —Chief Justice M’Kean, and Mr. Langdon (Old Johnny Langdon) presided. —The enthusiasm, convivial gaiety, and elavation of patriotism, inspired by the celebration of an aera interesting in the annals of liberty, shed through the whole company a glow of light, which every one felt and expressed with ardour. The repast was enjoyed with moderation (bless us!), and without even an approach of intemperance.”

Now, hang me. Mr. News-Monger, if I believe this last assertion; for, though I am none of the most incredulous; though I know the magic, and more than magic, power of liberty; though I might even raise my mind to the conception of nonsense, and really believe that this enchantress did shed a glow, and a glow of light too, and that that light was felt; though it is possible that I might be elevated or stupid enough to believe all this, or rascal enough to pretend to believe it, yet I never can or will believe that there was no “approach of intemperance” at this civic festival; unless want of cash prevented it. —When I enter on the pious office of Gazette-Man, I will observe a stricter adherence to truth.

But, to proceed; “After dinner the following TOASTS were drank;” that is to say, in English, drunk. —But why do I attempt to criticise? We all know, that, in literature, a News-Monger ranks next after a dray-horse.

Not to the Toasts that were drank, and that I have kept too long from the thirsty reader.

1. THE Day–may it ever be a festival to freemen; and the alliance which it gave birth to, be regarded, as a key stone in the arch of liberty—Music, Yankee doodle.

2. The People–knowledge to discern theri rights and spirit and firmess to assert them. —Reveil du Peuple.

3. The United States–may they ever be an asylum for the oppressed, and become a terror to oppressors.

As they are now to the vile, infamous gallic oppressors, I suppose?

4. The Republic of France–may she be as distinguished in peace, as she is formidable in war–that her happiness may allure other nations into an imitation of her example. —Ca Ira.

5. The Batavian Republic–may her expereince instruct other nations to shun a tyrant’s grasp, for a freeman’s embrace. —La Carmagnole.

Excellent irony!

6. The Revolutionary Army of the United States–may the fruits of their labours be no longer enjoyed by the enemies of American Independence. —Lexington march.

That is to say: “rise, sans-culottes, and seize on the property of the rich!”

7. The memory of those heroes, who fell in defence of American Liberty–may the inscription upon gheir tombs, call a tear of gratitude, and a blush from apostacy.—Solemn music.

8. The philosphers and patriots, who planned and conducted the American Revolution–may the splendor of their actions and the dignity of their measures, teach governments, that honesty is the best policy.

9. The Constitution of the United States–may it prove an effectual, and not a nominal check on the designs of ambition.

We understand all this pefectly well. The charge of apostacy, the hint at dishonesty, and the check on the designs of ambition, are taken from Paine’s most impudent and infamous letter to Gen. Washington. Would that their beer had been drugged with something that would for ever, ay for ever, have solenced their factious tongues!

10. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, may she be as distinguished in the cause of republicanism, as she had been conspicuous in that of humanity.

“Poor Pennsylvania keeps no gallows!” says a modern poem, in which gallows, what singular elegance and harmony, rhymes to Dallas. Poor unfortuante state! Look at the men who extol thy¬†humanity, and then blush at it.

11. The Freedom of the Press, may this palladium of our rights ever remain ininfluenced by power, unbiassed by party, and unseduced by corruption.

This last toast might have been spared in tenderness to the feelings of Citizen Adet, and Mr. Bache.

12. The memory of Franklin and Rittenhouse–may their example instruct the philosopher and the statesman, that true glory consists in doing good to mankind. —Solemn music.

That deism is philosophy no one will deny, and thereof I cannot dispute the claim here preferred to the title; but what good did Rittenhouse do to mankind? Dr. Rush, indeed, says that he did a great deal, and particularly to his own country; but, with all due submission to the hyperbolical bombast of Dr. Rush, and his eulogium on the politics of Mr. Rittenhouse, I never heard of any good to mankind, and particularly America, that he did, except detemining the boundaries of some of the States, “which he did with great precision,” and which I could have done as well as he, had I received the same pay for it. One singular service, indeed, he rendered his country, and that gratis, too: he volunteered as president of that seditious club, the Democratic Society of Philadelphia, and he himself signed the inflammatory resolves against the excise law, which encouraged the malcontents to rise in open rebellion, for the quelling of which, reader, you and I have paid, and still pay, a portion of our earnings. –The devil take such “good to mankind,” I say! —Doctor Rush is a very fine man, to be sure, and he writes in a fine Doctor-like Manner; but the remorseless Doctor Rush shall bleed me till I am as white as paper, before I’ll allow that this was “doing good to mankind.”¬† . . .

 

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Filed under 1790's, Federalists, Peter Porcupine, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs