Extempore on the INVASION of WALCHEREN
The Universal Magazine, XII (October, 1809), p. 312
Fire the guns,—illume the streets,
Ring the bells,—the bonfires raise;
Sing of Chatham's glorious feats,
Roar around the land his praise,
Immense the train he took to sea,
Wond'rous heroes, wondrous man!
Immortal must these armies be,
They have taken Walcheren!
Let the tales of other times
Never more be sung or said;
Higher subjects meet our rhimes,
Than e'er knew the mighty dead.
Flushing, town of gin and slush,
Far renown'd for fog and fen,
The conq'ring hosts of England crush,
And take—O wondrous! Walcheren!
Bonaparte's rush light see,
Castlereagh will sure blow out;
And the land of Zuyder Zee,
He'll be taking by the shout,
Ministers beyond all praise,
Senders forth of valiant men,
Who their monuments shall raise,
Conquerors of Walcheren!
Every good to Britain now
Must extend from side to side,
And surrounding nations vow,
She's of the universe the pride.
Immortal Chatham! great's the deed,
Greater never told the pen,
For every blessing must succeed
Now thou has taken Walcheren!
Sleep not now the deed is done,
Invaders bold of bogs and sand;
With open eyes each mother's son,
Guard the captur'd, valued land.
So of mud, and Slugs, and Scheld,
You'll be call'd the conquering men;
And to future times upheld,
Your wondrous works at Walcheren!
Downs, August 1809.
1. Thomas Rickman (1761-1834), bookseller and reformer, was a close friend of Thomas Paine. Paine lodged in his house from 1791-92 and there completed the second part of Rights of Man. Rickman published his Life of Paine in 1819. He wrote many poems, republican songs, and broadsides.
2. On July 28, 1809, 39,000 men, the largest British expedition that had ever been sent to the Continent, sailed for the Scheldt estuary in the Low Countries. John Pitt, the 2nd earl of Chatham, was the Commander of the expedition. Instead of marching directly on Antwerp, Chatham ordered his men to take Walcheran Island, which he occupied on August 16. By September when half of Chatham's force returned to England, 11,000 men had contracted fever. The rest remained at Walcheran until December. Of the 4,044 dead in the Walcheran Campaign, only 106 had been lost in action.