The Etiquette | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

There are various versions of this sarcastic “English ballad.” The subjoined copy differs from the original, first published in the London Magazine, in 1778, in one particular only*. The writer of it is unknown. It is included in a collection of poems, and fugitive pieces, published in London in 1779. The numerous editions of it that appeared during the last year of the, Revolution, establish the fact of its popularity.

The Etiquette

WHAT though America doth pour
Her millions to Britannia’s store,
Quoth Grenville, that won’t do – for yet,
Taxation is the etiquette.

The tea destroy’d, the offer made
That all the loss should be repaid
North asks not justice, nor the debt,
But he must have the etiquette.

He’d stop their port – annul their laws –
“Hear us,” cried Franklin, “for our cause !”
To hear th’ accus’d, the senate met,
Decreed ’twas not the etiquette.

At Bunker’s Hill the cause was tried
The earth with British blood was dyed;
Our army, though ’twas soundly beat,
We hear, bore off the etiquette.

The bond dissolv’d, the people rose,
Their rulers from themselves they chose
Their Congress then at naught was set –
Its name was not the etiquette.

Though ’twere to stop the tide of blood,
Their titles must not be allow’d,
(Not to the chiefs of armies met,)
One Arnold was the etiquette.

The Yankees at Long Island** found
That they were nearly run aground;
Howe let them ‘scape when so beset –
He will explain the etiquette.

His aide-de-camps, to Britain boast
Of battles – Yankee never lost;
But they are won in the Gazette –
That saves the nation’s etiquette.

Clinton his injur’d honor saw,
Swore he’d be tried by martial law,
And kick Germaine whene’er they met –
A ribbon sav’d that etiquette.

Though records speak Germaine’s disgrace,
To quote them to him to his face,
(The Commons now are – si honnète,)
They voted not the etiquette.

Of Saratoga’s dreadful plain-
An army ruin’d; why complain?
To pile their arms as they were let,
Sure they came off with etiquette !

Cries Burgoyne, “They may be reliev’d,
That army still may be retriev’d,
To see the king if I be let;”
“No, sir! ’tis not the etiquette.”

God save the king ! and should he choose
His people’s confidence to lose,
What matters it ? they’ll not forget
To serve him still – through etiquette.

  • *In the original publication of this song, the first is a five line stanza, having “Though risk it all, and nothing get,” after the third line.
  • **The Yankees at Long Island. Among other incidents of the retreat of the Americans from Long Island, in 1776, the loyal prints circulated the following : “From report, we hear that Mr. Washington and his dirty rebel outcasts, got a good soaking the other day, in their fight from Long Island. They were so vigorously pursued, by our brave fellows, that many of them took to the water like dogs, and swam over the creek. A deserter, lately come into the royal lines, says he saw nearly all the rebel army drying their only shirt and trowsers on the bushes, meanwhile performing various monkey tricks and other rebel discipline, to keep warm in their buffs. He didn’t see Mr. Washington in this new rebel armor, so we suppose he was comfortably situated in some one of those hay lofts he has unjustly pressed from the friends of justice, right, and a loving king.”

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