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the swinish multitude

21 Jan 99 - 09:55 PM (#55136)
Subject: the swinish multitude
From: johnm (inactive)

Does anyone know the lyrics to "the swinish multitude", a song sung by Antrim rebels in 1798, in a definant response to edmund burke's statement that if the swinish multitude ever revolted civilization would be destroyed? believe that the lyrics are in "songs of the irish rebellion:political street ballads and rebel songs" by george-davis zimmerman, dublin 1967, and/or "the life and times of mary ann mccracken" by mary mcneil, dublin 1960, reprinted belfast 1988. the song was sung to the tune of "the lass or richmond hill."

22 Jan 99 - 10:06 AM (#55198)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Wolfgang


here it is:


Give me the man whose dauntless soul
Oppressions's threats defires
And bids, though tyrant's thunders roll
The sun of freedom rise
Who laughs at all the conjured storms
State sorcery waked 'round
At power in all its varying forms
A title's empty sound

Hail ye friends united here
In virtue's sacred ties
May you like virtue's self keep clear
Of pensioners and spies
May you by Bastilles ne'er appalled
See nature's right renewed
Nor longer unavenged be called
The swinish multitude

I think I should add where I copied it from, for there are several more good songs to be found: Songs of '98 - Lyrics


22 Jan 99 - 11:44 AM (#55212)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: johnm (inactive)

Wolfgang Thank you very much John Mulqueen

22 Jan 99 - 03:19 PM (#55240)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: John Moulden

The song quoted in Mary McNeill's "Mary Anne McCracken" is not the only song of '98 which was called "The swinish multitude" though those appear to have been the only words which could be sung to the tune "The lass of Richmond Hill" The matter is complicated because Jemmy Hope, who was at Antrim in June '98 denied in his memoirs that the rebels had any musical instruments and while says that though The Marseillaise was sung he found it too dreary and stuck up a "merry Irish" air. He does not name the Swinish Multitude, nor The Lass of Rochmond Hill.

John Moulden

22 Jan 99 - 05:04 PM (#55256)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: johnm (inactive)

John Moulden I got my information from "The Summer Soldiers; The 1798 Rebellion in Antrim and Down" by A.T.Q. Stewart. He quoted those sources. Do you know his book or anything about him? Ihave read two other books, "The Narrow Ground" and "The Ulster Crisis" , that he wrote and enjoyed both, although I suspect he is controversial. John Mulqueen

23 Jan 99 - 06:50 PM (#55394)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: John Moulden

I've attempted to follow ATQ Stewart's amd Mary McNeill's references and would urge caution in accepting what Stewart says - namely that "somewhere along the road Hope stuck up another air, a popular song called the 'Swinish Multitude.'" This is because, in Hopes memoirs, - of which I am giving my memory - he denies an account (by the Rev Dr McCartney who was a Yeomanry Commander at the Battle of Antrim) that the rebels played "The Lass of Richmond Hill" on their way to Antrim because they had no instruments. He does say that they sang the Marseillaise and that he, thinking the air a dreary one (by the way they probably sang the words to this air given in Paddy's Resource, a songbook of 1795) struck up (and I think I quote) "a merry Irish song" - he does not mention The Lass of Richmond Hill, which seems odd if he used its air. Charles Teeling in his Memoirs states only that the Marseillaise was sung. Still further confusion is spread by the inclusion of another set of verses called "The Placeman and Pensioner's Address to the Swinish Multitude" in RR Madden: Literary Remains of the United Irishmen and by the fact that Madden who was also Hope's biographer included the Marseillaise in this book and said that "This song was sung by J Hope going to Antrim, and all the people joined in the chorus."

Having helped everyone else share my confusion, I'll conclude, inconclusively.

John Moulden

24 Jan 99 - 12:21 PM (#55470)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: johnm (inactive)

Thanks for details. Do you like Stewart's books?

24 Jan 99 - 09:34 PM (#55548)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Tim Jaques

The Swinish Multitude would make a good name for a band.:)

21 Aug 03 - 10:04 AM (#1005848)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Big Tim

There are 3 more verses given in "The '98 Reader: an anthology of song, prose and poetry" by Padraic O'Farrell. A recording of the song can be found the album "Mary Ann McCracken, 1770-1866" by Jane Cassidy and [her husband] Maurice Leyden. Still available.

The line "of pensioners and spies" is very ironic and very appropriate as the song's author Leonard McNally (1752-1820) was himself a government spy and pensioner, a fact that only emerged after his death, when his son applied for same "pension".

Anyone know the exact quote from Burke, that inspired the song?

21 Aug 03 - 05:56 PM (#1006119)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Mudlark

I wish I HAD a band...I'd name it that on the spot. Great title...

21 Aug 03 - 06:13 PM (#1006132)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude

In every war or upset, songs were written but never sung. They mirror the times and the emotions, so should not be disparaged.

Others were written long after the event but entered the folk retelling of the events. These have their uses, but they often express thoughts that would not be in the minds of the people who participated in the events.

22 Aug 03 - 06:18 AM (#1006366)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Big Tim

According to A.T.Q.Stewart in his 'Summer Soldiers' the Burke quote, referring to the French Revolution spreading to Britain and Ireland, is, 'learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hooves of the swinish multitude'. Is Yeats' 'common herd' in a similar vein? Also a good name for a band!

22 Aug 03 - 02:20 PM (#1006582)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: McGrath of Harlow

I missed this one before it got resurrected.

It strikes me that though you could sing it to the Lass of Richmond Hill, it doesn't really seem to fit that well. As John Moulden implies it seems more likely a different tune would have involved.

Using, for example The Jolly Beggarman would make it a lot more singable. (I'm not saying that would have been the actual tune used, I've no idea - just that it'd work better, and it'd maybe be more consistent with the description "a merry Irish air".)

24 Aug 03 - 04:34 AM (#1007253)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude

Big Tim has the quote almost exactly the same as my source does but without the context. Excuse the length, please, but note the political value and "proper place" of learning, according to Edmund Burke (as quoted in The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition, Terry Moylan, Ed.)

"Nothing is more certain than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles and were, indeed, the result of both combined: I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion. The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession, the other by patronage, kept learning in existence, even in the midst of arms and confusions, and whilst governments were rather in their causes, than formed. Learning paid back what it received to nobility and to priesthood; and paid it with usury, by enlarging their ideas, and by furnishing their minds. Happy if they had all continued to know their indissoluble union and their proper place! Happy if learning, not debauched by ambition, had been satisfied to continue the instructor, and not aspired to be the master! Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude."

from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke

It's fine for learning to enlarge your ideas--just so long as you don't go against the nobility as a result. Then you become swinish!


24 Aug 03 - 09:34 AM (#1007296)
Subject: RE: the swinish multitude
From: Big Tim

I think you have to see the Burke quote in its historical context. This was a time when public advocacy of one-man-one-vote could get you 14 years transportation, as happened to poor old Thomas Muir in Scotland.It was a revolutionary idea at the time, not actually happening for another 128 years, in 1918.