Back to Index

Exhortation to Mr. Wilberforce

by George Gordon Byron, 1881

(Don Juan, Canto xiv. Stanzas 82–84.)

O WILBERFORCE! thou man of black renown,
  Whose merit none enough can sing or say,
Thou hast struck one immense Colossus down,
  Thou moral Washington of Africa!
But there’s another little thing, I own,
  Which you should perpetrate some summer’s day,
And set the other half of earth to rights;
You have freed the blacks—now pray shut up the whites.

Shut up the bald-coot bully Alexander!
  Ship off the Holy Three to Senegal;
Teach them that “sauce for goose is sauce for gander,”
  And ask them how they like to be in thrall?
Shut up each high heroic salamander,
  Who eats fire gratis (since the pay’s but small);
Shut up—no, not the King, but the Pavilion,
Or else ’twill cost us all another million.

Shut up the world at large, let Bedlam out;
  And you will be perhaps surprised to find
All things pursue exactly the same route,
  As now with those of soi-disant sound mind.
This I could prove beyond a single doubt,
  Were there a jot of sense among mankind;
But till that point d’appui is found, alas!
Like Archimedes, I leave earth as ’twas.

Published in Poetry of Byron

Any corrections or public domain poems I should have here? Email me at poems (at) this domain.