Poem: “The King’s Own Regulars” from Fart Proudly

Posted by – July 04, 2015
Categories: Excerpt Literature & the Arts

by Benjamin Franklin

 

51mf+TeTksL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Happy 4th of July! As a special treat, we’re sharing a poem from Fart Proudly: Writings of Bejamin Franklin You Never Read in School, edited by Carl Japikse. Like the other pieces in this collection,”The King’s Own Regulars” showcases Franklin’s wit and sense of humor while also touching on the larger political issues of his time. We hope you enjoy this satirical ballad about the American Revolution, written by one of its central figures.

 

The King’s Own Regulars

1775

 

Since you all will have singing, and won’t be said, nay,
I cannot refuse where you so beg and pray;
So I’ll sing you a song—as a body may say.
’Tis of the King’s Regulars, who ne’er run way.
            O the old Soldiers of the King,
            and the King’s own Regulars.

As Preston Pans we met with some Rebels on day,
We marshaled ourselves all in comely array:
Our hearts were all stout, and bid our legs stay,
But our feet were wrongheaded and took us away.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

At Flakirk we resolved to be braver,
And recover some credit by better behaviour;
We would not acknowledge feet had done us a favour;
So feet swore they would stand, but—legs ran however.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

No troops perform better than we at reviews;
We march and we wheel, and whatever you choose.
George would see how we fight, and we never refuse;
There we all fight with courage—
            you may see it in the news.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

To Monogahela with fifes and with drums
We marched in fine order, with cannon and bombs:
That great expedition cost infinite sums;
But a few irregulars cut us all into crumbs.
            O the old soldiers, & c.
It was not fair to shoot at us from behind the trees:
If they had stood open as they ought before our great
            guns we should have beat them with ease.
They may fight with one another that way if they please;
But it is not regular to stand and fight
            with such rascals as these.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

At Fort George and Oswego, to our great reputation,
We shewed our vast skill in fortification;
The French fired three guns, of the fourth they had no
            occasion;
For we gave up those forts, not thro’ fear—but mere
            persuasion.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

To Ticonderoga we went in a passion,
Swearing to be revenged on the whole French nation.
But we soon turned tail, without hesitation
Because they fought behind trees which is not the fashion.
            O the old soldier, & c.

Grown proud at reviews, great George had no rest,
Each grandsire, he had heard a rebellion supprest.
He wished a rebellion, looked round and saw none,
So resolved a rebellion to make of his own—
            With the old soldiers, & c.

The Yankees he bravely pitched on,
            because he thought they would not fight,
And so he sent us over to take away their right,
But at least they should spoil our review clothes, he cried
            braver and louder,
“For God’s sake, brother kings, don’t sell the cowards any
            powder.”
            O the old soldiers, & c.

Our general with his council of war did advise,
How at Lexington we might the Yankees surprise.
We marched—and we marched—
            all surprised at being beat;
And so our wise General’s plan of surprise was complete.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

For fifteen miles they followed and pelted us, we scarce
            had time to pull a trigger;
But did you ever know a retreat performed with more
            vigour?
For we did it in two hours which saved us from perdition,
’Twas not in going out but in returning consisted our
            expedition.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

Says our General, we were forced to take to our arms in
            our own defence:
(For arms read legs, and it will be both truth and sense.)
Lord Percy (says He) I must say something of him in
            civility,
And that is, I can never enough praise him for his
            great—agility.
            O the old soldiers, & c.

Of their firing from behind fences, he makes a great
            pother,
Every fence has two sides; they made use of one, and we
            only forgot to use the other.
That we turned our backs and ran away so fast,
            don’t let that disgrace us;
’Twas only to make good what Sandwich said,
            “that the Yankees would not face us.”
            O the old soldiers, & c.

As they could not get before us, how could they look us
            in the face?
We took care they should not, by scampering away
            apace;
That they had not much to brag of, is a very plain case.
For if they beat us in the fight, we beat them in the race.
            O the old soldiers of the King,
            and the King’s own Regulars.

 

Excerpted from Fart Proudly: Writings of Bejamin Franklin You Never Read in School, edited by Carl Capikse. © 2003, North Atlantic Books.

Tags: Poetry

About the Author

Marina is the Marketing & Digital Programs Coordinator at North Atlantic Books. After living in New Orleans and Amsterdam, and exploring a couple of continents, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at NAB. She's passionate about astrology, nonfiction books, and sustainable living, as well as all things metaphysical.