1803.2 - "Britons, to Arms!!!"

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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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1803.2
Britons, to Arms!!!
William Thomas Fitzgerald [1]
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXIII (July 1803), p. 665
The Anti-Gallican, (1804), p. 54. [2]

[Written by W. T. Fitzgerald, Esq.
and Recited by Him at the Meeting
of the Literary Fund, July 14.]

Britons, to Arms! of Apathy beware,
And let your Country be your dearest care;
Protect your Altars! guard your Monarch's
                     Throne,
The Cause of GEORGE and Freedom is your
                      own!
What! shall that England want her Sons'
                     support,
Whose Heroes fought at CRESSY[3]—AGINCOURT?[4]
And when great Marlb'rough[5] led the
                   English van,
In France, o'er Frenchmen, triumph'd to a man!
By ALFRED'S great and ever honour'd name!
By EDWARD's prowess, and by HENRY'S fame!
By all the gen'rous Blood for Freedom shed,
And by the Ashes of the Patriot Dead!
By the bright glory Britons lately won
On Egypt's plains, beneath the burning sun,
BRITONS, TO ARMS! defend your Country's
                     cause,
Fight for your KING! your LIBERTIES! and
                     LAWS!
Be France defied, her slavish yoke abhorr'd,
And place your safety only on your Sword.
The Gallic Despot, sworn your mortal foe,
Now aims his last, but his most deadly blow;
With England's plunder tempts his hungry
                     slaves,
And dares to brave you on your native
                     waves!
If Britain's Rights be worth a Briton's
                      care,
To shield them from the son of Rapine—swear!
Then to Invasion be Defiance given,
Your Cause is just, approv'd by Earth and
                    Heaven!
Should adverse winds our gallant Fleet
                    restrain, `
To sweep his "bawbling"[6] vessels from
                    the main;
And Fate permit him on our shores t'advance,
The Tyrant never shall return to France;
Fortune herself shall be no more his friend,
And here the history of his crimes shall
                      end—
His slaughter'd Legions shall manure our
                     shore,
And ENGLAND NEVER KNOW INVASION MORE.


Notes

1. William Thomas Fitzgerald (1759-1829) was a popular poet and one of the vice-presidents of the Literary Fund, an institution for the relief of needy writers. His poems were noted for their "appeals to England's Loyalty and Valour." (Annual Register, 1829). He is mentioned in Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. See note to The Battle of Waterloo (1815).

2. Also printed as a broadside in 1803; see The Warning Drum, pp. 58-59.

3. [Author's note]: "In the year 1346, Edward Prince of Wales (commonly called the Black Prince), son of our King Edward III, gained the famous battle of Cressy, in which 30,000 of the French were killed upon the field."

4. [Author's note]: "In the year 1415, Henry V. King of England invaded France, and gained the memorable battle of Agincourt, when 10,000 of the French were slain, and 14,000 were taken prisoners. The prisoners were more in number than the victorious English army!"

5. [Author's note]: "In Queen Anne's reign, A.D. 1706, the great Duke of Marlborough gained the renowned battle of Blenheim. 12,000 French were slain and 13,000 taken prisoners, together with the French general, Marshal Tallard."

6. [Author's note]: "''A bawbling vessel was he Captain of, for shallow draught, and bulk unprizable.' SHAKSPEARE.'"

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September 2004

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