Mary O’Brien

fl. 1790; author of The Fallen Patriot; A Comedy, in Five Acts by Mrs. O’Brien (1794]), a satirical drama; also The Pious Incendiaries: or, Fanaticism Display’d (1785), a [dramatic] poem in seven cantos which characterises fanaticism as unusual if natural and not subject to eradication or control; also The Political Monitor; or Regent’s Friend (1790).

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The Fallen Patriot; A Comedy, in Five Acts by Mrs. O’Brien (Dublin: printed by William Gilbert [1790]); [attrib.] The Pious Incendiaries: or, Fanaticism Display’d. A poeP. By a Lady […] (London: priv. 1785) [ESTC]; The Political Monitor; or Regent’s Friend; being a collection of poems published in England during the agitation of the regency [...] [Details supplied by Kevin J. Donovan (MTSU).]

The Pious Incendiaries: Or, Fanaticism Display’d, by Mary O’Brien - available as a digital edition in “Irish Women Poets of the Romantic Period”, ed. Stephen Behrendt (Nebraska U), at Alexander Street Press - online & sample, infra.

Reprints, Christopher Wheatley & Kevin Donovan, eds., Irish Drama of the Seventeeth and Eighteenth Centuries, 2 vols. (UK: Ganesha Publishing UK 2003) [contains The Fallen Patriot, A Comedy in Five Acts (1790)].

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Christopher Wheatley, Beneath Ierne’s Banners: Irish Protestant Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth century (Notre Dame UP 1999) [q.pp.].

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William Pitt rebuked: Paddy’s Opinion, An Irish Ballad (1790) [‘Lest Hibernia’s high notions/To anger should rise,/And smoke out your taxes/And blast your excise.’] (Cited in Bryan Coleborne, ‘“They Sate in Counterview”: Anglo-Irish Verse in the Eighteenth Century’, in Hyland and Sammells, Irish Writing (London: Macmillan 1991), pp.45-63; p.61.





 WHEN the Author of the following Poem had first committed her thoughts to paper, her sole intention was to amuse herself, and entertain her Friends, - Some of the latter, Men of polite Literature, were pleased to express their approbation of the Piece, and urged her to publish it; but diffidence of her own abilities, the fear of incurring the charge of Vanity and Presumption, and those apprehensions which naturally agitate the mind of a Writer in the first attempt, restrained her from hazarding a publication.
 HAD not the Hero of the Piece lately betrayed a disposition to rise fresh tumults, and renew his former horrors, it should never have appeared; but the apprehension of those Calamities, the desire of preventing them, and the earnest solicitations of Friends, proceeding from the fame principles, at length overcame the Author’s Resolution.
  THE Poem, such as it is, she here presents to the Public, not doubting but her Errors, the consequence of inexperience natural in a first Essay, will meet with some indulgence, in consideration of the Purity of her Motives.

Canto I  

ASSIST, my Muse, while I relate
A revolution in the state;
Began by one of pious kin,
Whose inward soul long groan’d with sin, Which, by the working of the spirit,
By steady fasting, did inherit.
But, as we’re told, no sinner can
Become a new enlighten’d man,
Unless some time of life is spent
In rigid prayers, his mind intent
On things that soar above the sky,
And place his happiness on high;
Weep for his sins, defy the devil,
Sing hymns, and sigh for former evil.
Nor this alone will purge his soul,
More he must do, would he be whole:
Not wear a face like mortal sinner,
Such would disgrace a young beginner,
Who aims to work a reformation,
First in his soul, then in the nation;
Nor would his zealous mind be thought
For views of int’rest to be caught;
Alas, not he! ’Twere sin to mention,
A man so just had such intention.
’Twas for past sins then he did change,
And all his features thus arrange:
In pious attitude array’d,
His looks and gestures to persuade,
And with sad muscles, thus contracted,
New laws and systems soon enacted;
Then first his head he did prepare,
And sudden clipt his sandy hair;
Now coat and waistcoat must give place,
And solemn plainness serve for lace;
Black stockings better suit than white,
Too gay for one that has new light;
A coat of black, much better too,
Than red, or white, or green, or blue;
Nor can a smiling aspect suit,
One who attempts for to confute
His king [1], and country, with submission,
And with religion raise sedition;
For how cou’d one by skill unite
A ragged regiment into sight;
Or dare oppose the laws, or kin
Unless with Baal he cou’d sing;
Nor could his patron, crafty Noll,
Have emptied ev’ry cobler’s stall,
Until he underwent contrition,

And shap’d his face to such condition,
As caught the eye of pious fool,
And quickly dubb’d him Cromwell’s tool;
Which soon equipt them to conspire,
And raise the axe against their sire.
For Charles! alas! ’twas but sad diet;
But then, you know, for heaven’s quiet,
No pious soul wou’d e’er refuse,
His king, or country to accuse,
For good of those whose pure salvation,
Depends on overthrow of nation;
For, if I’m rightly understood,
To kill a king for public good;
Or overturn a royal nation
By fiery deeds, or conflagration,
Is not a matter of such evil,
As law divine, or justice civil,
Comprehends it; for you know,
At least I understand it so,
Far better sire church and steeple,
Than suffer pious, prudent people
To taste of monk or popish leaven,
And loose a happy seat in heaven;
To fall like stars that rise no more,
Whose great ambition was to soar
Above this world, ’twere sad to blast,
By popery too, their souls out-cast.
Methinks no christian wou’d agree,
Or such destruction bear to see;
But now, methinks, ’twere better told,
Were I a dialogue to unfold,
Between great Baal and his Brother,
In close discourse with one another;
A sermon too, by Baal preach’d,
Which hearts of many saints has reach’d;
Whose pious doctrine since did wing
Their flight to heaven in a swing;
And to protect their spiritual charters,
In Baal’s cause died pious martyrs.
’Tis true I might of others sing,
To Coachman’s-hall, your worships bring:
But by this converse you’ll inherit,
Of these two chiefs, sufficient spirit
To enlighten your inward comprehension,
And shew the cause of late dissension.
And now, my friends, your ears prepare,
While I the pious brethren swear
To secret - mum in state affair.
Errata [appended to the printed edition] incls. p.4, l.1: read kin for king.

- See full-text at - online.)

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