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Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
The marshal's in the market-place,
To see your flag-bird 2 flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother eagle's eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes ;
"You're wounded!" "Nay," his soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
"I'm killed, sire!" And, his chief beside,
1 Anon: presently.
2 Flag-bird: the eagle on the French flag.
8 Vans: wings.
4 Fell dead: a similar incident occurred at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. An officer of the Sixth Wisconsin approached Lieutenant-Colonel Dawes, the commander of the regiment, after the sharp fight in the railroad cut. The colonel supposed, from the firm and erect attitude of the man, that he came to report for orders of some kind; but the compressed lips told a different story. With a great effort the officer said, 'Tell them at home I died like a man and a soldier.' He threw open his coat, displayed a ghastly wound, and dropped dead at the colonel's feet. Chancellorsville and Gettusbura, by Major-General Doubleday.
YE MARINERS OF ENGLAND.
YE mariners of England,
That guard our native seas,
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
While the stormy winds do blow-
The spirits of your fathers
Shall start from every wave!
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And ocean was their grave.
Where Blake 1 and mighty Nelson 2 fell
Your manly hearts shall glow,
1 Blake: a distinguished English admiral (1599-1657). "He is considered as the founder of the naval supremacy of England." His great battles were with the Dutch and the Spanish.
2 Nelson: Southey calls Lord Nelson (1758-1805) "the greatest naval hero of our own and of all former times." He won the battle of the Nile over Napoleon, battle of the Baltic, and the great and decisive battle of Trafalgar, which destroyed Napoleon's combined French and Spanish fleets and made "England mistress of the seas." In this last engagement (1805) Nelson was mortally wounded.
While the stormy winds do blow -
Britannia 1 needs no bulwarks,
With thunders from her native oak 2
When the stormy winds do blow —
The meteor flag of England
Till danger's troubled night depart,
When the storm has ceased to blow
And the storm has ceased to blow.
1 Britannia: the Roman or Latin name of Britain.
2 Oak: formerly all men-of-war were built of oak.
3 Meteor: so called from its bright, fiery red. Milton uses the same expression, "The imperial ensign
shone like a meteor."
BATTLE OF THE BALTIC.1
OF Nelson 2 and the north
Sing the glorious day's renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown,
In a bold, determined hand,
And the prince of all the land
It was ten of April morn by the chime.
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.
1 Battle of the Baltic: during the wars with Napoleon, England claimed the right to search all neutral vessels, the object being to prevent trade with France.
In 1800 Russia, Denmark, and Sweden entered into a treaty or coalition known as the "Second Armed Neutrality" to resist England's claim.
In 1801 the "Battle of the Baltic" was fought, in which Nelson bombarded Copenhagen, destroyed a great part of the Danish fleet, and gained such a victory that, with the death of the Czar, which shortly after followed, the coalition was broken up.
2 Nelson: see note 2, p. 179.
3 Leviathans: sea-monsters.
But the might of England flushed
To anticipate the scene;
And her van the fleeter rushed
O'er the deadly space between.
"Hearts of oak!" our captain eried; when each
From its adamantine 1 lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships,
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.
Again! again! again!
And the havoc did not slack,
Till a feeble cheer the Dane
To our cheering sent us back;
As they strike the shattered sail,
Light the gloom.
Out spoke the victor then,
As he hailed them o'er the wave:
To our king."
Then Denmark blessed our chief,
1 Adamantine: which cannot be broken.