Christopher Anstey

(1724-1805 / England)

Britian’s Genius; Written


``Come and listen to my ditty.''
On that fam'd and ancient station
Where to Thames the Medway runs,
When in lawless combination
Neptune saw his favourite sons,

Straight he bad the waves their motion
And the winds their rage compose,
While from forth her native ocean
Britain's guardian Genius rose;

Not as when, with joy enraptur'd,
Her triumphant Howe she view'd,
Gallia's warlike vessels captur'd,
And her vaunting chiefs subdued;

Not as when her tribute glorious
She to British valour paid,
And for Vincent's Earl victorious
Twin'd a wreath that ne'er shall fade,

But with heart--felt sorrow wounded,
All aghast and pale she stood:
Thames her piercing cries resounded
Back to Medway's trembling flood:

``Tell me, ye, on whom relying
``I the Sea's dominion hold,
``Why these hostile flags are flying,
``Tell me true, my Sailor's bold:

``Is it that your warlike thunder
``On the faithless Dutch may fall,
``Is it wealthy Spain to plunder,
``Or to curb th'ambitious Gaul?

``No!--to seek your own undoing,--
``'Tis that France our shame may view,
``'Tis to work your Country's ruin,
``Which herself alone can do!

``Shall we then, with Discord raging,
``'Gainst ourselves the poniard bare,
``And a war internal waging,
``Britain her own bowels tear?

``Think on Gallia's dread commotion!--
``Ah! what shrine, what sacred flood
``Hath she not defil'd! what ocean
``Left unstain'd with kindred blood!

``List, oh, list! if, mid confusion,
``Reason's voice your ear can gain,
``Waken'd from your curs'd delusion,
``Hear me speak, nor hear in vain.

``Know that party--rage and faction
``Mar themselves with scorpion--wounds,
``And Rebellion's dire distraction
``On its author's head rebounds.

``To Old England firm and hearty,
``And obedient to her laws,
``Sailors own no other party,
``Than their King's, and Country's cause:

``Sure I am, my ancient charter
``You with glory will maintain,
``And for gold would scorn to barter
``Britain's empire o'er the main:

``On that miscreant crew, whose slanders
``Ting'd your generous hearts with gall,
``Not upon your brave commanders
``Let your headlong vengeance fall;

``They in early youth forsaking
``All that they on earth held dear,
``To the paths of honour taking
``Lives of labour learn'd to bear;

``Oft with you they've sail'd together,
``Oft alike with you have far'd,
``Brav'd the boisterous waves and weather,
``And the raging battle shar'd:

``Still, my friends, 'tis not expedient
``Each should hold a ruling hand;
``All should learn to be obedient,
``Few are fitted for command.--

``And will you while Commerce failing
``Daily mourns her captur'd fleet,
``While the noble Bridport's sailing
``In their ports the foe to meet;

``While your friends off Lisbon drinking
``To their gallant leader's health,
``And the Spanish dollars chinking
``Now are counting out their wealth,

``Say, will you, like lazy lubbards,
``Still keep loitering at the Nore,
``Pillaging your pursers' cupboards,
``And consume the naval store,

``Thoughtless in distress and anguish
``How your wives your absence mourn,
``How your helpless children languish
``Hungry, naked, and forlorn?

``If to France your course you're bending
``To invite your country's foe,
``Or for liberty contending
``To some happier clime would go,

``Turn your eyes--see nature show'ring
``Blessings o'er your native plains,
``Health, and wealth, and plenty pouring;
``See how Joy and Freedom reigns!

``Shall some barbarous Gallic ruffian
``Claim such rich domains as these,
``Some half--naked ragamuffin
``On your wives and daughters seize.''

Here she paus'd--with transport spying
(To the traitors sore dismay)
Three brave ships from Parker flying
To the Fort direct their way;

``Now,'' she cried, ``my friends assemble,
``Now the joyful Union spread,
``See th' affrighted tyrants tremble,
``See th' Arch--rebel hangs his head!

``All aloft, and quick and steady
``Now your canvass wings unbind;
``See, the Dromedary's ready,
``Off she flies before the wind.

``See, another slips her cable,
``All into the port shall sail;
``Loyal crews, and leaders able,
``Must in Britain's cause prevail:

``And in harbour safe arriving
``When our valiant troops you meet,
``In your cause so nobly striving,
``Them with cordial friendship greet:

``Give one curse to Delegation,
``Send her back to France again,
``She's an imp of Usurpation;
``Order here and Peace shall reign.''--

Submitted: Thursday, October 07, 2010

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