The following pro-democracy song appeared in Hugh Williams’s National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). The identity of the author is now lost to history but their work has been newly transcribed.
Stephen Basdeo is a historian and writer based in Leeds, UK.
‘My Heart is in the Battlefield’ was first written in November 1839 and has been newly-transcribed for Reynolds’s News! Subscribe now for more 19th century short texts!
This poem celebrating the 1830 Revolution in France was written by Victor Hugo and translated by George W.M. Reynolds (1814–79).
This poem from 1849 celebrates American Independence on the 4 July 1776. It was originally published in the Democratic Review
This poem ‘Hymn’ was written by Victor Hugo and celebrates the heroes of the French Revolution of 1830. The poem was translated by G.W.M. Reynolds and published in the Monthly Magazine.
The greatest and most fatal error in the annals of the world was suffering the growth and formation of an Aristocracy; it is the direst plague with which this earth is cursed, filling it with eternal bitterness.
This poem ‘The Genius of France’ was written by Victor Hugo and translated by G.W.M. Reynolds and published in the Monthly Magazine. It has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo in 2021.
G.W.M. Reynolds launched a personal crusade against army brutality, speaking out against it in both his fiction and his journalism.
The following song was written in 1839 after the government’s rejection of the first Chartist petition. The tone of the poem is clear: the working classes need to fight on!
Victor Hugo’s poem about Napoleon’s death was originally published in G.W.M. Reynolds Monthly Magazine in 1838.
In the 1850s the United Kingdom became home to a number of European refugees who fled political persecution. Welcome to the Refugees celebrates the arrival of persecuted people on British shores.
She preferred grief to ignorance, death to slavery. She seized with a bold hand the guarded fruit, and moved the man to participate in her act of daring. The All-powerful chastised both, banished them.
The Capitalist was a socialist poem written in 1850 and printed in George Julian Harney’s Red Republican magazine. It tells of the coming day of vengeance by the working classes against the ruling class.
A Song for Democracy was written by H. Vincent and originally appeared in Williams’s National Songs in 1839. Reprinted here for the first time in nearly 200 years.
The following poem was written anonymously and published in Hugh Williams’s National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). Its sympathies are with the struggle for democracy and the emerging Chartist movement.
The following poem appeared in the Chartist song book titled National Songs and Poetical Pieces (1839). It celebrates the fight for liberty and the vote in all four corners of the British Isles — from a time when there was no tension between the expression of a healthy patriotism and support for progressive causes.
The World is like a Troubled Sea was written anonymously and originally appeared in the Pocket Magazine.
The following poem, ‘In a Young Lady’s Heart’, was written by Pierce Egan the Younger in 1843 and published in The Era.
This poem titled ‘The Last of the Queens and the Kings’ was originally written in the 1830s French by Armand Carrell and later translated into English and published in Red Republican in 1850. It has now been republished in Reynolds’s News and Miscellany.
His memory, unrelieved by one noble trait, one magnanimous action, or one pure sentiment, comes down to us in chronicles, lay and secular, as one violent and tyrannical. A perfidious friend, an encroaching neighbour, a heartless and ungenerous relation.
This poem was written by a person known only as “W.D.” and published in the London Journal in 1860, which was then edited by Pierce Egan the Younger (1814–80). The poem might refer to the Gold Rushes of the mid-1800s, when explorers seeking to get rich quickly moved to the USA and Canada hoping to strike gold.
Let the king live, but let the government perish!” May we not profit by this bright example, or shall the pages of history continue unfolded to us in vain?
This poem “The Good Old Times” was written in 1849 and printed in Reynolds’s Miscellany; it mocks the idea that things were better in the past.
Had this fierce untameable man, who, led only by the instinct of plunder and blood, any right claim to have his position recognised by millions of people as a king by right divine?