Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
On the Loss of the Royal George
By William Cowper (1731–1800)
TOLL 1 for the brave!
  The brave that are no more!
All sunk beneath the wave,
  Fast by their native shore!
Eight hundred of the brave,        5
  Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
  And laid her on her side.
A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
  And she was overset;        10
Down went the Royal George,
  With all her crew complete.
Toll for the brave!
  Brave Kempenfelt is gone;
His last sea-fight is fought;        15
  His work of glory done.
It was not in the battle;
  No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak;
  She ran upon no rock.        20
His sword was in its sheath;
  His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfelt went down
  With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up, 2        25
  Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup
  The tears that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
  And she may float again        30
Full charged with England’s thunder,
  And plough the distant main.
But Kempenfelt is gone,
  His victories are o’er;
And he and his eight hundred        35
  Shall plough the waves no more.
Note 1. The Royal George, a ship of 1953 tons, and mounting 108 guns, was considered the first, as she was one of the oldest ships in the Navy. On the morning of August 29th, 1782, while at Spithead, just before sailing to join the fleet for the relief of Gibraltar, she heeled over on her leeboard side, and sank instantly. There were nearly 1100 souls on board out of which only 300, belonging chiefly to the ship’s company, were saved. Some 400 of the crew, and at least as many more women and children, who were taking farewell of friends, were lost. Rear-Admiral Richard Kempenfeldt was among the lost. The ship had been commanded by Anson, Boscawen, Rodney and Hawke. [back]
Note 2. Weigh the vessel up: i.e., to raise her. [back]

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