The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder

Original Text: 
The Anti-Jacobin; or, the Weekly Examiner (London, 1797-98). 36 nos. in 2 vols. AP 4 A58 Microfilm mfm
Friend of Humanity
2Rough is the road, your wheel is out of order--
3Bleak blows the blast;--your hat has got a hole in't,
4     So have your breeches!
5"Weary Knife-grinder! little think the proud ones,
6Who in their coaches roll along the turnpike{\-}
7-road, what hard work 'tis crying all day "knives and
8     "scissors to grind O!"
9"Tell me, Knife-grinder, how you came to grind knives?
10Did some rich man tyranically use you?
11Was it the squire? or parson of the parish?
12     Or the attorney?
13"Was it the squire, for the killing of his game? or
14Covetous parson, for his tithes distraining?
15Or roguish lawyer, made you lose your little
16     All in a lawsuit?
18Drops of compassion tremble on my eyelids,
19Ready to fall, as soon as you have told your
20     Pitiful story."
21"Story! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir,
23This poor old hat and breeches, as you see, were
24     Torn in a scuffle.
25"Constables came up for to take me into
26Custody; they took me before the justice;
27Justice Oldmixon put me in the parish{\-}
28     Stocks for a vagrant.
29"I should be glad to drink your Honour's health in
30A pot of beer, if you will give me sixpence;
31But for my part, I never love to meddle
32     With politics, sir."
Friend of Humanity
33"I give thee sixpence! I will see thee damn'd first--
34Wretch! whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to vengeance--
35Sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded,
36     Spiritless outcast!"
[Kicks the Knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and exit in a transport of Republican enthusiasm and universal philanthropy.]


1] The magazine was directed against the spread of revolutionary sentiment in Great Britain as a result of the French Revolution. Back to Line
17] Rights of Man, by Tom Paine. Written in 1791-92 as a reply to Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution and one of the most influential radical books of the time; Paine was a prominent figure in the American Revolution. Back to Line
22] Chequers: an inn with a chess-board as its sign; hence a generic name for a public-house. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.815; RPO 1996-2000.