Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Ballad of Admiral Hosier’s Ghost
By Richard Glover (1712–1785)
 
AS near Porto-Bello lying
On the gently-swelling flood,
At midnight with streamers flying
Our triumphant navy rode;
There while Vernon sat all-glorious        5
From the Spaniards’ late defeat;
And his crews, with shouts victorious,
Drank success to England’s fleet;
 
On a sudden, shrilly sounding,
Hideous yells and shrieks were heard;        10
Then each heart with fear confounding,
A sad troop of ghosts appeared;
All in dreary hammocks shrouded,
Which for winding sheets they wore,
And with looks by sorrow clouded        15
Frowning on that hostile shore.
 
On them gleamed the moon’s wan lustre,
When the shade of Hosier brave
His pale bands was seen to muster,
Rising from their watery grave:        20
O’er the glimmering wave he hied him,
Where the Burford reared her sail,
With three thousand ghosts beside him,
And in groans did Vernon hail.
 
‘Heed, O heed, our fatal story,        25
I am Hosier’s injured ghost,
You, who now have purchased glory
At this place where I was lost;
Though in Porto-Bello’s ruin
You now triumph free from fears,        30
When you think on our undoing,
You will mix your joy with tears.
 
‘See these mournful spectres sweeping
Ghastly o’er this hated wave,
Whose wan cheeks are stained with weeping;        35
These were English captains brave:
Mark those numbers pale and horrid,
Those were once my sailors bold,
Lo, each hangs his drooping forehead,
While his dismal tale is told.        40
 
‘I, by twenty sail attended,
Did this Spanish town affright;
Nothing then its wealth defended
But my orders not to fight:
O! that in this rolling ocean        45
I had cast them with disdain,
And obeyed my heart’s warm motion,
To have quelled the pride of Spain;
 
‘For resistance I could fear none,
But with twenty ships had done        50
What thou, brave and happy Vernon,
Hast achieved with six alone.
Then the Bastimentos never
Had our foul dishonour seen,
Nor the sea the sad receiver        55
Of this gallant train had been.
 
‘Thus, like thee, proud Spain dismaying,
And her galleons leading home,
Though condemned for disobeying,
I had met a traitor’s doom.        60
To have fallen, my country crying
“He has played an English part,”
Had been better far than dying
Of a grieved and broken heart.
 
‘Unrepining at thy glory,        65
Thy successful arms we hail;
But remember our sad story,
And let Hosier’s wrongs prevail.
Sent in this foul clime to languish,
Think what thousands fell in vain,        70
Wasted with disease and anguish,
Not in glorious battle slain.
 
‘Hence with all my train attending,
From their oozy tombs below,
Through the hoary foam ascending,        75
Here I feed my constant woe;
Here the Bastimentos viewing,
We recall our shameful doom,
And, our plaintive cries renewing,
Wander through the midnight gloom.        80
 
‘O’er these waves for ever mourning
Shall we roam deprived of rest,
If to Britain’s shores returning
You neglect my just request;
After this proud foe subduing,        85
When your patriot friends you see,
Think on vengeance for my ruin,
And for England shamed in me!’
 
 
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