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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1794.12
Song
"G. C."
The European Magazine, XXVI (July 1794), p. 62

Tune, "To Anacreon in Heaven."

When Gallia's base sons, by some daemon inspir'd,
    Had burst all the ties which society bind,
With presumption unequall'd they madly aspir'd
    To plunge in confusion the rest of mankind,
                Our dear native plains,
                Where true liberty reigns,
They reconed an object was well worth their pains;
So resolv'd with their fleets they'd invade us;
                        but now,
Experience has shewn them they did not know HOW.[1]

To beat us at sea was quite easy they thought,
    Who our loyalty hated, our freedom despis'd,
Forgetting the lessons experience had taught,
    When Hawke[2] and Boscawen[3] their navies chastis'd.
                Those insolent knaves
                Swore they'd rule o'er the waves,
And that Britons from henceforth should be but their
                        slaves,
Till old Neptune, enraged, overheard them, and now
Was resolv'd to convince them they did not know HOW.

Says Neptune, "Were I to encourage those bands,
    My Tritons and Sea-Gods would grow democratic,
This trident, perhaps, be snatch'd out of my hands,
    And the reign of Old Neptune become problematic.
                Such ills to avoid,
                Be a hero employ'd
By whom those proud boasters shall soon be destroy'd;
Nor long need I think on't, I'll fix on him now,
For his former achievements have made me know HOW.

A fleet such as England ne'er equall'd before,
    For skill, strength, and courage that nought could
                       restrain,
Impatient for conquest depart from the shore,
And the union flag wav'd, proudly wav'd at the main.
                Old Neptune with glee
                Saw his heroes at sea,
And cried out with rapture, "Come, come, follow me;—
I have oftentimes led you to glory ere now,
And determin'd to shew you that still I know HOW."

They meet,—and the battle by England is won;—
    But story no conflict so dreadful can shew;—
Two are sunk—six are taken; the rest of them run;
    Nor ever again will the contest renew.
                The vict'ry complete,
                What a glorious defeat;
None ever to Britons was yet half so sweet—
For whatever was dearest we fought for it now,
And Gallia from henceforth will ne'er forget HOW.


Notes

1. Lord Richard Howe, British admiral in command of the channel fleet won the much celebrated victory of the 1st of June 1794.

2. Sir Edward Hawke, English naval commander who defeated French at the battle of Quiberon Bay, November 20, 1759.

3. Edward Boscawen, British admiral who defeated French fleets in numerous battles before and during the Seven Years' War.

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Published @ RC

September 2004