Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Brigantine Privateer, Prince de Neufchatel
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
          Ordonneaux, commander, which arrived at Boston some time since, from a cruise of three months, chiefly in the English and Irish channels, in which she captured thirteen or fourteen valuable prizes, to the amount, it was said, of more than a million of dollars
  
Quid petis hic est.—Martial.

WHAT is wealth? that men will roam,
Risk their all, and leave their home,
Face the cannon, beat the drum,
  And their lives so cheaply sell?
Let them reason on the fact        5
Who would rather think than act:
Their brains were not with morals rack’d
  Who mann’d the Prince of Neufchatel.
 
Having play’d a lucky game,
Homeward, with her treasure, came        10
This privateer of gallant fame,
  Call’d the Prince of Neufchatel.
Are the English cruisers near?
Do they on the coast appear
To molest this privateer?—        15
  She shall be defended well.
 
Soon a frigate hove in sight:—
As the wind was rather light,
She, five barges, out of spite,
  Sent, to attack with gun and blade.        20
On our decks stood rugged men,
Little more than three times ten;
And I tremble while my pen
  Tells the havoc that was made.
 
Up they came, with colours red,        25
One astern, and one ahead:
Shall I tell you what they said?
  “Yankees! strike the bunting rag!”
Three were ranged on either side:
Then the ports were open’d wide,        30
And the sea with blood was dyed—
  Ruin to the English flag!
 
Now the angry cannons roar,
Now they hurl the storm of war,
Now in floods of human gore        35
  Swam the Prince of Neufchatel!
Then the captain, Ordonneaux,
Seconded the seaman’s blow,
And the remnant of the foe
  Own’d the brig “defended well.”        40
 
For the million she contain’d
He contended, sword in hand,
Follow’d by as brave a band
  Of tars, as ever trod a deck.
In these bloody barges, five,        45
Scarce a man was left alive,
And about the seas they drive;
  Some were sunk, and some a wreck.
 
Every effort that they made
With boarding pike, or carronade,        50
Every effort was repaid,
  Scarcely with a parallel!
Fortune, thus, upon the wave,
Crown’d the valour of the brave.
Little lost, and much to save,        55
  Had the Prince of Neufchatel.
 
 
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