Page 10 - The 16th Percy French Festival: Our Great Disconnect
P. 10

to re-read it with the second and third lines transposed, giving a radically dif erent
         meaning to the poem. The version that was printed in The Jarvey follows on the left;
         the version with the lines transposed is on the right:

           We hold the uncrowned King to be                          We hold the uncrowned King to be
           The saviour of our liberty:                                             None other than a knave or fool:
           None other than a knave or fool                                The saviour of our liberty
           Would ever combat Parnell’s rule.                             Would ever combat Parnell’s rule.


         The Jarvey’s columns do not mean                            The Jarvey’s columns do not mean

         To put the red above the green:                                 To court and win the League’s applause:

         To court and win the League’s applause                 To put the red above the green

         Is still consistent with the laws.                                   Is still consistent with the laws.


         We love and venerate the man                                   We love and venerate the man

           Who of Campaign adopts the Plan:                          Who gladly pays his landlord’s rent:
           Who gladly pays his landlord’s rent,                         Who of Campaign adopts the Plan
           To Coventry should straight be sent.                        To Coventry should straight be sent.

           When patriots ‘scape from Balfour’s gripe              When patriots ‘scape from Balfour’s gripe
           We print the fact in larger type:                                  We fringe with black our mournful sheets:
           We fringe with black our mournful sheets             We print the fact in larger type
           When Tories conquer Liberal seats.                           When Tories conquer Liberal seats.


         That man we simply execrate                                      That man we simply execrate

         Who fears to speak of ’98:                                             Who nurtures freedom’s cherished dream:

         Who nurtures freedom’s cherished dream,           Who fears to speak of ‘98

         To him we give our best esteem.                               To him we give our best esteem. 18



         This cleverly constructed poem is only one of numerous examples in The Jarvey
         of French’s skill as a wordsmith and his delight in playing with the English language.

         Although The Jarvey proclaimed its political neutrality on a number of occa sions, it did
         not entirely ignore the two major Irish political issues of the day, Home Rule and the
         land question. However, rather than address the issue of Home Rule directly, on a small
         number of occasions French playfully depolit icised the issue entirely by characterising
        ‘Home Rule’ as a domestic situation where wives tyrannised their husbands. (Illus. 6)
         French also published a num ber of humorous cartoons representing interactions
         between peasants and landlords, which again dodged the contentious issues which
         were involved in the land question. The main exception is a cartoon which was


     •8•                                       THE PERCY FRENCH FESTIVAL 2024
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