George Canning, The Friend of Humanity and the Knife Grinder

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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



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 beliefs were uniformly branded as “JACOBINISM”, and the magazine’s authors swore themselves the “enemies” of it, “in

1909 words

Citation: White, Steven. "The Friend of Humanity and the Knife Grinder". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 October 2013 [, accessed 30 May 2024.]

35055 The Friend of Humanity and the Knife Grinder 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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