Joel Barlow “God save the Guillotine”

This is another post of my collection of National Anthems which began with the Australian: Australia Day: Girted, Skirted, and Alerted (27 Jan. 2021) and Rewriting and Resinging Australia Day (30 Jan. 2021).

God save the Guillotine
Till England’s King and Queen
Her power shall prove:
Till each appointed knob
Affords a clipping job
Let no vile halter rob
*The Guillotine*

France, let thy trumpet sound –
Tell all the world around
How Capet fell;
And when great George’s poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
*The Guillotine*

When all the sceptre’d crew
Have paid their Homage, due
*The Guillotine*
Let Freedom’s flag advance
Till all the world, like France
O’er tyrants’ graves shall dance
And PEACE begin.

I came across him in Jonathan Israel’s books on “the radical Enlightenment”. His main political works include the following:

  • A Letter to the National Convention of France on the Defects in the Constitution of 1791 (London, 1792).
  • Advice to the Privileged Orders in the several States of Europe, resulting from the Necessity and Propriety of a General Revolution in the Principle of Government. Part I (1792) and Part II (1793)
  • A Letter Addressed to the People of Piedmont, on the Advantages of the French Revolution, and the Necessity of Adopting Its Principles in Italy (1792)
  • Two Letters to the Citizens of the United States, and One to General Washington (1799)

As well as a considerable amount of what is regarded as bad political poetry.

His collected works were republished in 1970: Works of Joel Barlow. In Two Volumes. Facsimile Reproductions with an Introduction by William K. Bottorff and Arthur L. Ford (Gainesville, Fla.,: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1970).

There a fairly recent biography which I have not been able to read by Richard Buel Jr., Joel Barlow: American Citizen in a Revolutionary World (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).