Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Constitution and Guerriere
 
Tune—“Derry down”

“BY the trident of Neptune,” brave Hull cried, “let’s steer,
It points out the track of the bullying Guerriere:
Should we meet her, brave boys, ‘Seamen’s rights’ be the cry:
We fight to defend them, to live free or die.”
 
The famed Constitution through the billows now flew,        5
While the spray to the tars was refreshing as dew,
To quicken the sense of the insult they felt,
In the boast of the Guerriere’s not being the ‘Belt.’
 
Each patriot bosom now throbb’d with delight,
When, joyful, the cry was, “A sail is in sight!”        10
“Three cheers!” cried the captain: “my lads, ’tis the foe;
British pride shall be this day by Yankees laid low.”
 
Behold now the Guerriere, of Britain the boast,
Her topsails aback, and each tar to his post:
While Dacres a flag did display from each mast,        15
To show that, as Britons, they’d fight to the last.
 
The American stars now aloft were unfurl’d,
With her stripes to the mizen-peak; a proof to the world,
That howe’er British pride might bluster or fret,
The sun of her glory should that day be set.        20
 
Now, primed with ambition, her guns loaded full,
The Guerriere’s broadsides roar’d tremendous at Hull;
Not only the hero, ship, and crew to annoy,
But the Hull of our freedom, our rights to destroy.
 
As the brave Constitution her seamen drew nigh,        25
Each heart beat with valour, joy glisten’d each eye;
While Hull, whose brave bosom with glory did swell,
Cried, “Free trade—Seamen’s rights! now let every shot tell.”
 
Quick as lightning, and fatal as its dreaded power,
Destruction and death on the Guerriere did shower,        30
While the groans of the dying were heard in the blast,
The word was, “Take aim, boys, away with her mast.”
 
The genius of Britain will long rue this day.
The Guerriere’s a wreck in the trough of the sea:
Her laurels are wither’d, her boasting is done;        35
Submissive—to leeward she fires her last gun.
 
Now brilliant the stars of America shine,
Fame, honour, and glory, brave Hull, they are thine;
You have Neptune amazed, caused Britain to weep,
While Yankees triumphantly sail o’er the deep.        40
 
The sea, like the air, by great Nature’s decree,
Was given in common, and shall ever be free:
But if Ocean’s a turnpike, where Britain keeps toll,
Hull, Jones, and Decatur will pay for the whole.
 
 
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