Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Naval Song: ‘When Britain, fired with savage rage’
By Elizabeth Allen
WHEN Britain, fired with savage rage,
A sister nation did engage;—
When hill and plain and sandy shore,
Were stain’d with floods of human gore.
Not far from Champlain’s craggy side,        5
Macdonough’s fleet was seen to ride;
While Downie, pleased his foe to meet,
In hostile row approach’d his fleet.
And manful hearts beat quick and high,
As they the solemn scene descry;        10
And hastening onward sought the strand,
Or height, that prospect might command.
One gentle form, with glossy hair,
Came too, the mournful view to share;
Clad in a wedding-robe, her eye        15
Cast upward, while she thus did cry:—
“O, God of mercy! hear my prayer!
Let my Philander be thy care;
And grant him strength to act his part,
But guide the death-shot from his heart.        20
Yet as thou wilt—and I’ll be still,
And own the justice of thy will;
But should thy goodness deign to spare,
Thy mercy ever I’ll declare.”
But O! the cannon’s horrid din,        25
Resounds, and quick resounds again;
A trembling seizes every limb,
Pallid her cheek, her eye grows dim.
Mute as the rock on which she sate,
To wait the dread approach of fate;        30
No murmur ’scaped, no sigh was heard,
Her God was just, and him she fear’d.
But hark! those peals victorious sound,
A victor sure his way hath found;
Macdonough! thine must be the day,        35
For heaven had mark’d thy better way.
Yes! comes the bearer, “Tidings new!
Macdonough, with his gallant few,
A victory complete did gain,
While Downie with his aids are slain.”        40
Elvira, long with grief oppress’d,
Now feels the load forsake her breast;
Philander comes, with laurels crown’d,
And shouts from hills and vales resound.
And mountains took the echo too,        45
And heralds on fleet pinions flew;
Whilst all Columbia’s sons proclaim,
Their hero in Macdonough’s name.

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