1803.1 - "War Song"

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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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1803.1
War Song
Richard Mant [1]
The Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry, II (1803), pp. 195-196
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXIII (July 1803), pp. 665-666 [2]

By Rev. R. Mant, A.M.
Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford.

Written in May, 1803, on the Publication of the
Negotiation Papers


What! shall they seek the lion in his den,
And fright him there? And make his tremble there?
O, let it not be said!-------[3]
__________

    Britons, bow the haughty head![4]
        "Bend, Britons, bend the stubborn knee!
    "Own your ancient virtue fled,
        "And know not that ye once were free.
        "Think not as your fathers thought;
        "Speak no more, as Britons ought;
        "Act no more the Britons' part,
        "With valiant hand and honest heart;
        "What indignation bids you feel,
        "Dare not, dare not to reveal;
"Though Justice sharpen, dare not grasp the lance,
"Nor single-handed tempt the might of France!

    "Me, Holland, Italy obey:
        "Her breast with many a war wound gor'd,
    "And crush'd beneath my iron sway,
        "Me Helvetia owns her Lord.
        "Boast not then your fleets, that sweep
        "The eastern and the western deep!
        "Boast not then your sea-wash'd land,
        "Rampart-girt by Nature's hand!
        "Fleets and billows stay not me—
        "Then bow the head, and bend the knee.
"Britons, no more your rival ranks advance,
"Nor single-handed dare to cope with France!"

    Yes! as our Albion's root-bound oak
        Stoops to the tempest, we will bow!
    Yes! we will bend, as the tall rock
        Mocking the wave that chafes below!
        Now by the sable Prince inbrued
        Once and again in Gallic blood;
        By the laurels that intwine,
        Harry, thy helm; and Marlborough, thine;
        By our Chiefs on Nilus' tide,
        Him, who triumph'd; him, who died;
        By him, whom Acon's turrets raise
        To lion-hearted Richard's praise;[5]
Yes! we will still our rival ranks advance,
And single-handed brave the might of France.

    Come then, come thou Consul-king!
        Launch thy navies, arm thine host,
    And beneath night's favouring wing
        Thy banners plant on England's coast![6]
        Come! but hope not to return—
        Here other thoughts thou soon shalt learn;
        Shalt feel that Britons still may claim
        The honours of the British name;
        Can fearless still maintain their stand
        On British, as on Syrian, land;
Still rise superior to the sons of Chance,
Still single-handed crush the pride of France.


Notes

1. Richard Mant (1776-1848), Bishop of Down and Connor (1832) and Bishop of Dromore (1842). Mant took his BA from Trinity College, Oxford in 1797 where he studied under Joseph Wharton. In 1798 he was elected fellow of Oriel College where he remained until 1804. He published his Verses to the Memory of Joseph Wharton in 1800. An indefatigable writer, Mant's bibliography covers over five pages in the British Museum Catalogue. He edited the Poetical Works of Thomas Wharton in 1802.

2. Also printed in broadside form in 1803, see [LINK] The Warning Drum, pp. 70-71.

3. Shakespeare, King John.

4. In The Gentleman's Magazine printing, the first two stanzas are headed
"Bonaparte Speaks;" the last two are headed "Englishman."

5. [Author's note]: "It is hardly requisite to mention, that these four lines allude to Lord Nelson, the late Sir Ralph Abercrombie, and Sir Sidney Smith. The city of Acon, or Acre, was taken in one of the Crusades, from the Saracens, by Richard Coeur de Lion."

6. In May, 1803 Bonaparte had threatened to invade England.

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