William Topaz McGonagall
An All-Night Sea Fight - Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
Ye sons of Mars, come list to me,
And I will relate to ye
A great and heroic naval fight,
Which will fill your hearts with delight.
The fight was between the French Frigate "Pique" and the British Frigate "Blanche,"
But the British crew were bold and staunch;
And the battle was fought in West Indian waters in the year of 1795,
And for to gain the victory the French did nobly strive.
And on the morning of the 4th of January while cruising off Gadulope,
The look-out man from the foretop loudly spoke,
And cried, "Sail ahoy!" "Where away ?"
"On the lee bow, close in shore, sir," was answered without delay.
Then Captain Faulkner cried, "Clear the decks!"
And the French vessel with his eyeglass he inspects;
And he told his men to hoist the British flag,
And "prepare my heroes to pull down that French rag."
Then the "Blanche" made sail and bore away
In the direction of the "Pique" without delay;
And Captain Fauikner cried, "Now, my lads, bear down on him,
And make ready quickly and begin."
It was about midnight when the Frenchman hove in sight,
And could be seen distinctly in the starlight;
And for an hour and a half they fired away
Broadsides into each other without dismay.
And with tne rapid flashes the Heavens were aflame,
As each volley from the roaring cannons came;
And the incessant roll of musketry was awful to hear,
As it broke over the silent sea and smote upon the ear.
The French vessel had nearly 400 men,
Her decks were literally crowded from stem to stern;
And the musketeers kept up a fierce fire on the " Blanche,"
But still the "Blanche" on them did advance.
And the "Blanche's" crew without dismay
Fired a broadside into the "Pique" without delay,
Which raked her fore and aft, and knocked her to smash,
And the mizzen mast fell overboard with a terrible crash.
Then the Frenohmen rushed forward to board the "Blanche,"
But in doing so they had a very poor chance,
For the British Tars in courage didn't lack,
Because thrice in succession on their own deck they were driven back.
Then "Brave, my lads!" Captain Faulkner loudly cries,
"Lash her bowsprit to our capstan, she's our prize";
And he seized some ropes to lash round his foe,
But a musket ball pierced his heart and laid him low.
Then a yell of rage burst from the noble crew,
And near to his fallen body they drew;
And tears for his loss fell fast on the deck,
Their grief was so great their tears they conldn 't check.
The crew was very sorry for their captain's downfall,
But the sight didn't their brave hearts appall;
Because they fastened the ropes to the "Pique" at the capstan,
And the "Pique" was dragged after the "Blanche," the sight was grand.
Yet the crew of the "Pique" maintained the fight,
Oh! most courageously they fought in the dead of night;
And for two hours they kept up firing without dismay,
But it was a sacrifice of human life, they had to give way.
And about five o'clock in the morning the French cried for quarter,
Because on board there had been a great slaughter;
Their Captain Consail was mortally wounded in the fight
Along with many officers and men; oh! it was a heartrending sight
To see the wounded and dead weltering in their gore
After the cannonading had ceased and the fighting was o'er.
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