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The Political Litany

The Political Litany was one of four liturgical parodies Hone composed and published in very early 1817.  Together with The Late John Wilkes's Catechism and The Sinecurist's Creed, The Political Litany was one of the works singled out for prosecution by the Attorney General.  (For reasons that are not at all clear, the fourth parody, The Bullet Te Deum, was ignored by the authorities.)  Borrowing its form from the litany of the Book of Common Prayer, The Political Litany uses the call-and-response form to dramatize the social, economic, and political demands of the reformers while simultaneously satirizing the pretensions of the current parliament.

The Title Page:


Political Litany title page

Full-text transcription:


 

T H E

L I T A N Y.

  Here followeth the LITANY, or General Supplication, to be said or sung at all times when thereunto especially moved.


O PRINCE, ruler of the people, have mercy upon us, thy miserable subjects,

O Prince, ruler, &c.

  O House of Lords, hereditary legislators, have mercy upon us, pension-paying subjects,

O House of Lords, &c.

  O House of Commons, proceeding from corrupt borough-mongers, have mercy upon us, your should-be constituents,

O House of Commons, &c.    

  O gracious, noble, right honorable, and learned rulers of our land, three estates in one state, have mercy upon us, a poverty-stricken people,

O gracious, noble, &c.    

  Remember not, most gracious, most noble, right honourable, and honourable gentlemen, our past riches, nor the riches of our forefathers; neither continue to tax us according to our long lost ability -- spare us good rulers, spare the people who have supported ye with their labour, and spilt their most precious blood in your quarrels; O consume us not utterly,

Spare us, good Prince!

  Form [sic] an unnational debt; from unmerited pensions and

sinecure places; from an extravagant civil list; and from utter starvation,

Good Prince, deliver us!

  From the blind imbecility of ministers; from the pride and vain glory of warlike establishments in time of peace,

Good Prince, deliver us!

  From all the deadly sins attendant on a corrupt method of election ;  from all the deceits of the pensioned hirelings of the press,

Good Prince, deliver us!

  From taxes levied by distress; from jails crowded with debtors; from poor-houses overflowing with paupers,

Good Prince, deliver us!

  From a Parliament chosen only by one tenth of the tax-payers; from taxes rasied to pay wholesale human butchers their subsidies; from the false doctrines, heresy, and schism, which have obscured our once glorious constitution; from conspiracies against the liberty of the people; and from obstacles thrown in the way of the exertion of our natural and constitutional rights,

Good Prince, deliver us!

  By your feelings as men; by your interests as members of civil society; by your duty as Christians,

O Rulers, deliver us!

  By the deprivations of millions--by the sighs of the widow--by the tears of the orphan--by the groans of the aged in distress--by the wants of all classes in the community, except your own and your dependants,

O Rulers, deliver us!

  In this time of tribulation--in this time of want of labour of thousands, and of unrequited labour to tens of thousands--in this time of sudden death from want of food,

O Rulers, deliver us!

  We people do beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers; and that it may please ye to rule and govern as constitutionally in the right way,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

    That it may please ye to keep yourselves in all sobriety, temperance, and honesty of life--that ye spend not extravagantly the money raised from the production of our labours, nor take for yourselves that which ye need not,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to keep your hearts in fear of oppression, and in love of justice; and that ye may evermore have affiance in our affection, rather than in the bayonets of a hired soldiery,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to be our defenders and keepers, giving us the victory over all our enemies, and redressing the grievances under which we labour,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to lessen the cares of the world unto all Bishops and Church Dignitaries; giving their superabundance to the poor clergy, and no longer taxing us for their support,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to place within the bounds of economy the expenditure of all the Royal Family,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to deprive the Lords of the Council, and all the nobility, of all money paid out of the taxes which they have not earned,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to direct all Magistrates to give up their advanced salaries, which the times no longer render necessary, and to content themselves with their former stipends,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to bless all the people with equal representation, and to keep them safe from borough-mongering factions,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye so to govern us, that unity, peace, and concord, may prevail throughout the nation, and the voice of tumult and dissatisfaction be no more heard in our streets,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to give unto all people all their rights as citizens, whatever may be the mode in which their consciences may impel them to worship their Creator, and whatever the creed to which their judgments assent,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to bring into the way of truth those apostates who have erred therefrom, and have deceived us,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to strengthen all such as do stand up for the legal and constitutional rights of the people; to comfort and help the weak-hearted, who want courage in our behalf; to raise up such as do fall; and finally to beat down corruption under our feet,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye not to tax "until the brow of labour sweats in vain;" but to succour and comfort all that are in necessity and tribulation,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to show pity to all who are prisoners and captives for the people's sake, or through the oppressive expenses of the Laws,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to appropriate 200,000l. annually paid to Members of Parliament, contrary to an ancient law, as a provision for fatherless children and widows, and all that are desolate and oppressed,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to have mercy upon us all,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to turn the hearts of our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, by withdrawing their pensions and emoluments, that they may no longer call us a "rabble," the "swinish multitude," or "ragamuffins," but once more style us, "the real strength of the nation" -- "the body, without which a head is useless,"

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, untaxed by men in black, whom those who wish for their instruction ought alone to support,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to abolish and destroy all sinecure places, and worthless pensions; to utterly purge and root out all wrong doers; to thoroughly correct the present mis-representation of the people, by an effectual Reform in Parliament; and otherwise to do, or cause to be done, such further and other acts and deeds, as shall or may conduce to the true interest and benefit of the whole commonwealth,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to lead and strengthen GEORGE Prince of Wales, our present REGENT, in the true fear and knowledge of the principles whereon the people of this commonwealth placed their crown on the head of his ancestors, and continue it towards him; and that it may please ye as much as in ye lie, to keep and to defend him from battle and murder, and sudden death, and from fornication, and all other deadly sin,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to put on short allowance, all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, that their fleshly appetites being reduced, their spirtual-mindedness may be thereby increased, and so that both by their preaching and living, they may set it forth, and show it accordingly,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  That it may please ye to take to yourselves true repentance, in as much as ye have erred from the way of your forefathers; and amend your method of governing according to our free constitution,

We beseech ye to hear us, O Rulers!

  Son of George, we beseech thee to hear us.

Son of George, we beseech thee, &c.

  O House of Lords, that taketh away so many tens of thousands of pounds in pensions,

Have mercy upon us.

  O House of Commons, that votest away the money of the whole nation, instead of that of those only who elect you,

Have mercy upon us!

  O Prince, hear us.

O Prince, hear us!

  George, have mercy upon us.

George, have mercy upon us!

  O House of Lords, have mercy upon us.

O House of Lords, have mercy upon us!

  O House of Commons, have mercy on us.

O House of Commons, have mercy on us!

[ Here endeth the Litany.]


  THE COLLECT TO BE USED BY HIS 
MAJESTY'S MINISTERS

Beginneth thus:

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, &c.

By Whom the following may be used in ordinary:

THE Grace of our Lord GEORGE the PRINCE REGENT, and the Love of Louis XVIII., and the Fellowship of the POPE, be with us all evermore.   Amen.

FINIS.


Printed by J. D. Dewick  46 Barbican, London.