Newspaper Rhymes

Columbian, Nov. 23, 1814:  Major-general Keane, it is now reported, is to be sent to beat the Americans into submission.

‘But should our haughty foe expect
To give our boys a caning,
We’ll guess they’ll find our lads have larnt
A little bit of training!’

Trenton True American

The following poem was published in The Gleaner, as having been transcribed from a pane of glass at an Inn in England, and are probably by New Yorker Gulian Verplanck (1751-1799):

Hail happy Britain, Freedom’s blest retreat,
Great is they power, they wealth, thy glory great
But thy wealth and power have no immortal day,
For all things only ripen to decay,
When Britain’s Glory, Wealth, and Power must fall,
Then shall they Sons, for such is Heaven’s decree
In other Worlds, another Britain see;
And what thou art America shall be.

(Signed)          Gulian Verplank, 1775

On January 20, 1815, The Gleaner, which was against the war, published this epigram:

In 390 BC Juno’s geese on the Capitol warned Rome of the Gallic attack.

When hostile banners round Rome’s walls were waved,
By gabbling geese her Capitol was saved.
Alas our Fate! less fortunate than Rome
Geese could not save our Capital at home.”

The New York Columbian published this, “A True Story,” on April 21, 1815.

On the plains of New-Jersey, one hot summer’s day,
Two Englishmen, snug in a stage-coach were vap’ring;
A Yankee, who happened to travel that way,
Took a seat alongside, and sat wond’ring and gaping:
Chock full of importance (like every true Briton,
Who knows British stars far out-sine our poor Luna,)
These cockney’s found nothing their optics could hit on,
But what was insipid or miserably puny.
Compared with the English, our horses were colts,
Our oxen were goats–a a sheep but a lamb;
And the people! (poor blockheads) such pitiful dolts!
Mere Hottentot children, contrasted with them!
Just then a black cloud in the west was ascending;
The lightning flash’d frequent, with horrible glare,
While near, and more near, a fierce tempest portending,
The thunder rebellowed along the rent air.
An oak, by the way-side, Jove’s bolt made a dash on,
With a peal that knock’d horses and Cockney’s all flat.
There, d–n you! cries Jonathan, quite in a passion,
Have you got better THUNDER in England than that?

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden