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

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

1798.5
The Invasion of 1796
Anon
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXVIII (September 1798), p. 793

Now fair and strong the South-east blew,
    And high the billows rose;
The French fleet bounded o'er the waves,
    Freighted with Erin's foes.

Oh! where was Hood—and where was Howe,
    And where Cornwallis then,
Where Colpoys, Bridport, or Pellew,
    And all their gallant men?

Nor skill nor courage aught avail
    When Providence gainsays;
The storm arose, and clos'd our ports,
    A mist o'erspread the seas.[1]

For not to feeble mortal men
    Did God his vengence trust;
He rais'd his own tremendous arm,
    All powerful—and all-just!

Now fierce and loud the tempest blew,
    And swept the quiv'ring main,
And part go South and part go West,
    And part the shore attain.

And tumbling on the boist'rous wave
    The shatter'd vessels lie;
The billows mounting o'er their heads,
    To kiss the bending sky.

"Arise, ye sons of Erin, rise,
    The Gaul is on the shore;
He comes begrim'd with murder foul,
    And red with royal gore."

The sons of Themis[2] proudly drew
    The sword of Justice bright,
And thirty thousand yeoman's swords
    Reflected back its light.

Now firm and bold her hardy troops
    To Erin's coast repair;
With ardent zeal they march along,
    Their banners fill the air.

But not to Albion's navy bold,
    Nor Erin's patriot land,
Did Heav'n its ministry depute
    To save its favour'd land.

In Bantry's bold and rocky bay
    The hostile navy rode;
And now the festal time arriv'd[3]
    When earth beheld her God.

The impious crew with anxious eyes
    Gaz'd on each verdant plain
And mock'd and scoff'd the holy hour
    With many a jest profane.

But sure such loud and angry winds
    Ne'er shook the seas before;
Nor ever did the glaring skies
    In such deep thunder roar.

For thirteen nights and thirteen days
    The famish'd wretches strove,
And some were wreck'd, and some despair
    Before the tempest drove.

Now ever praised be our God,
    Who sav'd us from their hand;
And never more may foe presume
    To dare this Christian land.


Notes

1. A French invasion fleet was actually turned back by storms.

2. [Author's note]: "The deity supposed by the ancients to preside over law."

3. [Author's note]: "Christmas-day, 1796."

Previous Poem    -    Next Poem

About this Page

Published @ RC

September 2004