In this essay I will be comparing two poems. They are ‘Clever Tom Clinch Going to be Hanged’ and ‘A London Fete’. ‘Clever Tom Clinch Going to be Hanged’ was written by Jonathan Swift in 1726, ‘A London Fete’ was written Coventry Patmore in 1890.
Clever Tom Clinch Going to be Hanged is about a criminal called Tom Clinch, who was going to be hanged but he still had time to joke. Eventually when he was about to be hanged he “hung like a hero”. On the other hand A London Fete is about a hanging where the crowd does not even know what the criminal’s crimes were, this poem also focuses on the crowd as a whole and as individuals, more than the criminal himself.
The two poems have been written ‘one hundred and sixty four years’ apart. Clever Tom Clinch Going to be hanged took place at Tyburn Gallows, which is modern day Marble Arch. A London Fete took place outside Newgate Prison, which is The Old Bailey Magistrates Court now. In the time of Clever Tom Clinch there were around 200 Capital Offences. In the time of A London Fete only murder was a Capital Offence. There is something these two poems have in common, which is they are both Public Hangings.
In Clever Tom Clinch the author gives lots of information about Tom Clinch, unlike A London Fete where the poet does not give enough information about ‘the man’. In Clever Tom Clinch a very detailed description is given about the condemned man. In A London Fete the condemned man is referred to in three different ways that are “the man” which is in Line 4, “the doomed man” which is in Line 13 and “the dangling corpse” which is in Line 37. In Clever Tom Clinch the poet creates the impression that Tom Clinch is a educated and rich man, in ways such as describing his clothing in Lines 5-6 in which the poet writes “His waistcoat and stockings and breeches were white’, also by comparing him to a ‘beau in a box’ in Line 10.
The role of the crowd in ‘Clever Tom Clinch’ is very different to the role of the crowd in ‘A London Fete’. In ‘Clever Tom Clinch’ the crowd is seen as a whole, the crowd knows what Tom Clinch’s crimes are and there reaction to Tom Clinch is different to the reaction of ‘the Condemned man’ in ‘A London Fete’. In ‘A London Fete’ the crowd does not even know what the Condemned man’s name and crimes are, but are still watching just for entertainment.
Both poets use many different writing devices such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, contrast and repetition, these devices are used to create the crowd’s atmosphere and vivid impressions. In ‘Clever Tom Clinch’ there is only one example of alliteration that is in Line 21, it is “My conscience is clear”. On the other hand ‘A London Fete’ has many example of alliteration such as “Shock on shock” which is in Line 1, “Culprit’s crime” which is line 12, “Doomed man dumb” which is in Line 13, “Frantic faces” which is Line 16, “Breasts beat horrid hope” which is in Line 23, “Clatter and clangour” which is in Line 35, “Straight and still” which is in Line 37, “Pleasure past” which is in Line 38, “Forth to fight2 which is in Line 47.
The attitude the poet wants the reader to take in is that public executions are bad and can cause trouble. In ‘Clever Tom Clinch’ the poet focuses on the criminal more than the crowd to put the point forward that public executions are bad. On the other hand in ‘A London Fete’ the poet focuses on the crowd to prove his point, such as what effect it has on individuals such as in Lines 42-47 the poet shows the effect of the hanging on individuals.
I think ‘Clever Tom Clinch’ is effective but not as effective as ‘A London Fete’ because the poet focuses more on the crowds reaction to the criminal than the hanging itself, well as ‘A London Fete’ shows how it effects young children which is shown in Line 42 where the poet says “A baby strung its doll to a stick” this shows how the baby was effected, the poet also shows how it effected slightly older children more in Line 44 where it says “Two children caught and hanged a cat”.
The poet shows how it never effected some people as much, this can be seen Line 45 where the poet says “Two friends walked on in lively chat”, but these lines shows how Public Hangings can cause problems in the streets by saying “and two who had disputed places, went forth to fight with murderous faces” which is in Lines 46-47. These lines show the real effect of public hangings and how they affect different people in different ways.
That is why I think Public hangings should not be done in public.