John Bull’s Prayer.

God save me, great John Bull!
Long keep my pockets full!
Ever victorious,
Snobbish, vain-glorious,
Proud and censorious—
Mammon, my god, arise!
Tax well my enemies,
Make tariffs fall!
Confound French politics,
Frustrate the Russian tricks,
Get Yankees in a “fix”—
God curse them all!
France, Spain, and me, also,
Help to crush Mexico!
In this we’re one.
Bless each Confederate knave
Who flogs a crouching slave!
My cotton business save!
God’s will be done!
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On pious me O pour,
On me, John Bull!
Maintain oppressive laws,
Smite down the poor man’s cause,
So pray, with heart and voice,
I, great John Bull!

Title:John Bull’s Prayer.


Publication:Massachusetts Weekly Spy

Published in:

Date:March 5th 1862

Keywords:politics, satire, war


Published in the Union-sympathising Massachusetts Weekly Spy*, the satirical song mocks the extended British national anthem* and mirrors both its language and rhyme to hail the caricature of Britain’s profiteering spirit: John Bull. In the introductory stanza, the speaker’s disdain for the mercantile and imperialist outlook of England is made apparent, describing the original national anthem as ‘Mammon-worshipping’. The poem keeps with this theme throughout, flexing the original lyrics with invocations of contemporary events to demonstrate Britain’s imperialist greed: frustrating ‘Russian tricks’ in the Crimean war; siding with France and Spain in the second Franco-Mexican war of 1861 over Mexico’s failed debt repayments; and, of course, the apparent siding with the Confederacy to maintain the cotton trade. The closing stanza offers a direct mockery of its original counterpart, twisting the celebration of wealth and monarchic generosity to present an oppressive and avaricious image of John Bull; the stanzas can be read in parallel to appreciate the rich satire, with the original verse as follows: Thy choicest gifts in store, On her be pleased to pour, Long may she reign! May she defend our laws, And ever give us cause, To sing with heart and voice, God save the Queen! *Keeping the name of the anti-Royalist and pro-independence newspaper published in the 18th century, by Isaiah Thomas. *For the extended lyrics to the national anthem, see this useful explainer from Classic FM: JC