George Canning: The Friend of Humanity and the Knife Grinder

(2046 words)

Written by George Canning and John Hookham Frere, apparently in just half an hour (Bagot 136), “The Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder” is a parody of Robert Southey’s poem “The Widow”, and, more broadly, a satire on the poetry, principles and motives of British radicals in the 1790s. The poem was published, with a prose preface, on November 27th 1797 in the second issue of Canning’s uncompromisingly conservative weekly magazine, The Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner (1797-98).

The raison d’etre of The Anti-Jacobin was to eradicate all sympathy for the French Revolution, and to fight all notions of social or political change in Britain. Such …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

White, Steven. "The Friend of Humanity and the Knife Grinder". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 October 2013; last revised .
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]