Charles Churchill (satirist)

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Be England what she will,
With all her faults she is my country still.

Charles Churchill (February 1731November 4, 1764) was an English poet and satirist.


  • Who to patch up his fame, or fill his purse,
    Still pilfers wretched plans, and makes them worse;
    Like gypsies, lest the stolen brat be known,
    Defacing first, then claiming for his own.
    • Apology addressed to the Critical Reviewers (1761), line 232, comparable with: "Steal! to be sure they may; and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children,—disguise them to make 'em pass for their own", Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic, act i. sc. i
  • Men the most infamous are fond of fame,
    And those who fear not guilt yet start at shame.
    • The Author (1763), line 233

The Rosciad (1761)

  • He sickened at all triumphs but his own.
    • line 64
  • Genius is of no country; her pure ray
    Spreads all abroad, as general as the day.
    • line 207
  • He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone.
    • line 322
  • Fashion—a word which knaves and fools may use,
    Their knavery and folly to excuse.
    To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
    To fame—to copy faults, is want of sense.
    • line 455
  • So much they talked, so very little said.
    • line 550
  • Not without Art, but yet to Nature true,
    She charms the town with humour just, yet new.
    • line 699
  • But, spite of all the criticising elves,
    Those who would make us feel—must feel themselves.
    • line 961; comparable with: "Si vis me flere, dolendum est/ Primum ipsi tibi" (translated as "If you wish me to weep, you yourself must first feel grief"), Horace, Ars Poetica, v. 102
  • The two extremes appear like man and wife,
    Coupled together for the sake of strife.
    • line 1005
  • Where he falls short, 'tis Nature's fault alone;
    Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own.
    • line 1025

Night: An Epistle to Robert Lloyd (1761)

  • When foes insult, and prudent friends dispense,
    In pity's strains, the worst of insolence,
    Oft with thee, Lloyd, I steal an hour from grief,
    And in thy social converse find relief.
    • line 1
  • No statesman e'er will find it worth his pains
    To tax our labours and excise our brains.
    • line 271
  • No tribute's laid on castles in the air.
    • line 274
  • Keep up appearances; there lies the test.
    The world will give thee credit for the rest.
    • line 311

The Prophecy of Famine: A Scots Pastoral (1763)

  • Grave without thought, and without feeling, gay.
    • line 60
  • Apt alliteration's artful aid.
    • line 86
  • There webs were spread of more than common size,
    And half-starved spiders prey’d on half-starved flies.
    • line 327

An Epistle to William Hogarth (1763)

  • Amongst the sons of men how few are known
    Who dare be just to merit not their own?
    • line 1
  • Thy danger chiefly lies in acting well;
    No crime's so great as daring to excel.
    • line 51
  • When fiction rises pleasing to the eye,
    Men will believe, because they love the lie;
    But Truth herself, if clouded with a frown,
    Must have some solemn proof to pass her down.
    • line 289
  • With curious art the brain, too finely wrought,
    Preys on herself, and is destroy'd by thought
    Constant attention wears the active mind,
    Blots out our powers, and leaves a blank behind.
    • line 645

The Ghost (1763)

  • England, a happy land we know,
    Where follies naturally grow.
    • Book I, line 111
  • Knaves starve not in the land of fools.
    • Book I, line 374
  • And adepts in the speaking trade
    Keep a cough by them ready made.
    • Book II, line 545
  • Just to the windward of the law.
    • Book III, line 56
  • Why should we fear? and what? The laws?
    They all are arm'd in Virtue's cause;
    And aiming at the self-same end,
    Satire is always Virtue's friend.
    • Book III, line 943
  • Drawn by Conceit from Reason's plan,
    How vain is that poor creature, Man!
    How pleased is every paltry elf
    To prate about that thing, himself.
    • Book III, line 955
  • Within the brain's most secret cells
    A certain Lord Chief Justice dwells,
    Of sovereign power, whom, one and all,
    With common voice, we Reason call.
    • Book IV, line 125
  • A joke's a very serious thing.
    • Book IV, line 1386

The Farewell (1764)

  • Be England what she will,
    With all her faults she is my country still.
    • line 27; comparable with: "England, with all thy faults I love thee still, My country!", William Cowper, The Task, book ii. The Timepiece, line 206
  • Wherever waves can roll, and winds can blow.
    • line 38; comparable with: "Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam", Lord Byron, The Corsair, canto i. stanza 1
  • 'Tis mighty easy o'er a glass of wine
    On vain refinements vainly to refine,
    To laugh at poverty in plenty's reign,
    To boast of apathy when out of pain,
    And in each sentence, worthy of the schools,
    Varnish'd with sophistry, to deal out rules
    Most fit for practice, but for one poor fault,
    That into practice they can ne'er be brought.
    • line 47
  • It can't be Nature, for it is not sense.
    • line 200


  • As the law does think fit
    No butchers shall on juries sit.
    • This quote, sometimes erroneously cited as from Churchill's The Ghost, is from canto II of Butler's Ghost; or, Hudibras. The Fourth Part (1682), a continuation by Thomas d'Urfey of Hudibras by Samuel Butler, the three parts of which were published in 1663, 1664 and 1678. In Butler's Ghost (which appeared two years after Butler's death), the lines are slightly different: "But as the law does think it fit,/No butchers shall in juries sit."