For battle prepared in their country’s just cause
Their king to avenge and support all his laws,
As fierce as the tiger, as swift as the roe,
The British Light Infantry rush on their foe.
Though rebels unnumbered oppose their career
Their hearts are undaunted, they’re strangers to fear,
No obstacles hinder, relentless they go
And death and destruction attend every blow.
The alarm of the drum and the cannon’s loud roar,
The musket’s quick flash but inflames them the more,
No dangers dismay, for they fear no control
But glory and conquest inspires every soul.
Whenever their foe stands arranged in their sight
With ardour impatient they pant for the fight,
Rout, havoc, confusion they spread through the field
And rebellion and treason are forced to yield.
A song of the American War of Independence, celebrating the Light Infantry, first published in Rivington’s Royal Gazette at New York in 1778. The lyric is said to have been written by an American Loyalist.
The ‘founding fathers’ were ungrateful malcontents. What was their cherished Declaration of Independence but empty political posturing? They groaned about the burden of taxation, but it was the English who were shouldering the real burden, paying taxes on everything from property to beer, from soap to candles, tobacco, paper, leather and beeswax. The notorious tea tax, which had so inflamed the people of Massachusetts, was only one-fourth of what the English paid at home; even Benjamin Franklin labelled the Boston Tea Party an act of piracy. Meanwhile, smugglers, with the full connivance of the colonists, were getting rich at the expense of honest tax-paying citizens. The recent Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War had doubled Britain’s national debt, but the Americans, who were the most immediate beneficiaries, were refusing to contribute their fair share. Trump would have complained about this, had the boot been on the other foot.
The revolutionaries complained about a lack of representation in Parliament, but in this they were no different from the majority of Englishmen at the time. Edward Gibbon, who knew something about the ups and downs of history, opposed the rebels from the House of Commons. Samuel Johnson called them “a race of convicts” who “ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging.”