The last battle of Sir John Falstaff the II. or, the hero of the Burnt-Corn battle
(Section; To the Public)
TO THE PUBLIC
THE following piece, if it should be thought by any to savour too much of ill-nature, will at least be excused by those who are acquainted with a malicious slanderous & unauthorized attack made on certain persons; embracing allusions peculiarly indelicate, in a late hand bill. The author of the hand bill had abused the confidence & friendship of these men, & then with a characteristic baseness of mind, wantonly sought an occasion, and at length made one, to pour on them his public abuse, teeming with dark inuendoes, and malicious falsehoods. From what kind of glass house he has aimed his shafts, will be seen in this hasty production. Crude and unfinished as the piece is, the author ventures to predict that it will stick. Never were more ludicrous incidents ( and the most ludicrous is fact ) furnished for a humorous poem. Nothing is left to fancy.
The Knight’s actual adventures furnish an instance of such a superabundance of laughable materials for the comic muse, that she, for once, felt that fiction was outdone by fact; and that her greatest reaches at the ludicrous were pre-occupied by realities. There are living witnesses to the facts. If the ridiculous part of the Knight’s character was all, he might still be supposed a well meaning man. It is however more likely that he will continue to be unmasked, till his best friends will be ashamed to say that they ever thought well of him.
The Public, it is believed, will not think so meanly of the author of this piece, as to believe him capable, on any occasion, of entering the lists of scurrility with Sir John, in his own style; yet the materials are by no means exhausted for holding up to the ridicule and contempt of his fellow citizens a busy intriguing demagogue, alike destitute of moral sense, talents, bravery and patriotism; and who has the audacity to boast of success in carrying his own purposes, to the utter disregard of the public interests.
St. Stephens, August 20, 1815.
(Section: Should the poem be in multiple chapters to make footnotes more accessible?)
(Should title be capitalized as in original? Here it is:)
The last CAMPAIGN of SIR JOHN FALSTAFF the II ; or, the HERO of the BURNT CORN BATTLE.
SIR JOHN the second’s mighty deeds, “ the spring
Of woes to others, Heavenly Goddess, sing.”
Deeds which produced a Fort’s untimely fall,
Where one promiscuous ruin buried all :
Where wretched mother, brother, sister, sire ; 5
Were slain, and thrown into one common fire.
- [Footnote:] This parody on the first lines of the Iliad, is thought by the author to be a master stroke—for had Achilles and Sir John lived in the same age, it would have placed the Divine Homer in the celebrated dilemma of an Ass between two hay-stacks—He could not have chosen his hero.
Roused by a zeal which fertile lands  inflame,
And vainly hoping for a warlike name,
John calls his troops around, declares a foe
Was gone, or would to Pensacola go ; 10
Where powder he’d procure, and arms and lead,
And swift destruction on our frontier spread.
[Footnote 2] The Alabama lands.
“Is any here,” he cries, “afraid to go ;
“ A pale-faced wretch, who’d shun a Savage foe?
“ Let him remain behind, while we, the brave, 15
“ Will instant march, and our lov’d country save.”
Encouraged thus, the troops with loud huzzas,
Prepare to march, to aid their country’s cause.
Some arm’d with rifles, some with swords appear,
Some wield a tommahawk, and some a spear. 20
In John’s wild motion, and disorder’d §mein,
A war ’twixt pride, and cowardice, is seen !
“ Dispatches” numerous he attempts to write,
But scarce a line, consistent, can indite.
At length a tommahawk, and shirt he’d buy, 25
With that to conquer, or in this to die !
In warlike order now, and proud array ;
The troops move on, our Hero leads the way.
Now to the Eastward, led by John they go, §sc on John?
To seek, a combat with the Savage foe. 30
They cross two rivers, and with rapid pace
Push, ardent, on, their Savage foe to trace.
As they advance, John sends out scouts to see,
Or learn, the movements of the enemy :
These soon return, and state that they had found 35
The foe, with packs and horses scatter’d round.
John calls a halt ; the troops obey his voice,
And in the hope of victory, rejoice.
Not so Sir John, his fears suggests his doom,
He sees in prospect, all his woes to come. 40
High on his horse he sits, and thus, aloud ;
A warlike talk addresses to the crowd.
“ Dismount, my gallant heroes, one and all ;
“ And, with loud shouts, upon the Savage fall !
“ Our spies report, o’er all the plain is spread 45
“ Arms, blankets, powder, tommahawks and lead.
“ These shall be yours, with these a warlike name,
“ Secures your Glory in the roll of fame.”
Our Hero ceased, they raise a dreadful cry ;
The Savages, alarmed, promiscuous fly 50
To a thick cane-brake, where, secure from sight,
They hold a council, and resolve to fight.