The Bull

A simile addressed to John Bull

SEEST thou yon Bull? – how awful to behold,
Cast in great Nature’s most stupendous mould!
Nature alone could form the grand design,
And soften Majesty with Beauty join.
He towers unrivalled Monarch of the Plain,
Strength every limb and fire in every vein!
Mark the brave brow, that bravest the bended sky,
The voice of thunder and the lightning Eye!
That voice which roused could awe the light away,
That Eye which fired could kindle Night to Day!
Yet wherefore, wherefore, O mysterious Heaven!
Was so much strength and so much weakness given?
He bows his passive neck – a slender string,
Confines his might and leads the savage King!
Tame he submits – till pestilential gore,
In baneful blasts repels him from the door,
Where slaughter lives – sudden he makes a stand,
Wild roll his Eyes, his Nostrils dire expand:
But e’er his fears his courage can awake,
Stones, Goads and Cudgels force him to the Stake;
There bound, the moaning Victim’s left to wait
In agonizing pangs, his lingering fate!
O! In that moment, darted through his frame,
Should sudden fury touch his powers to flame,
See, at one plunge, the uprooted post, the walls –
The unsupported roof – the fabric falls –
Death and Destruction, Terror and Dismay!
These rush before, and those attend his way!
Where’er he turns his dastard Butchers fly,
He desolates the Country with his Eye!
BRITANNIA know thy strength! thy Rights regain,
When Britons sue shall Britons sue in vain?
But should the People’s Voice their Rights demand?
The People’s Voice! Which nothing can withstand!
Though steel’d against a weeping Nation’s tears
Tyrants are governed only by their fears –
For Freedom all the Nations look to thee;
Britannia speaks and bid the Universe be free!

By Musaeus
(Sheffield, 9 April 1793)


Printed in the Sheffield Register No. 306, 12 April 1793 (currently held in Sheffield University Library Special Collections)

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