Monthly Archives: August 2014

Lord Exmouth

Bitton House, home of Lord Exmouth

Bitton House, home of Lord Exmouth

Following from the earlier poems about Sir Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth, and his exploits, this posting is a poem written to celebrate Algiers Day at Bitton House in 2007; although it covers a number of Pellew’s triumphs, not just Algiers.  This should be the last in the suite of Pellew Poems …… unless of course I find some more!

Algiers Day marks the triumph of Pellew in the bombardment of Algiers and the release of 1000 Christian slaves from the city.

The poem was first published in the Journal of Teign Heritage No 77, Spring 2008 and is an interesting take on his life.

Picture the scene ……

It is a sunlit evening and Lord Exmouth sits on the terrace of Westcliffe House (now Bitton House), gazing across the Teign to Shaldon. He holds out his glass to his greying, grizzled man-servant ……

Lord Exmouth
(James Skerret)

Pour me another, good Thomas,
And fill it right up to the brim,
You know that half measures were never my style,
With me you would sink or you’d swim.

You have been with me now, my good Thomas,
Forty years and have served me with pride,
From the time when the ‘Stanislaus’ dared us,
And poor Pownall fell dead at my side.

I was only a junior lieutenant,
But I took the ‘Apollo’s’ command,
And the ‘Stanislaus’ struck, and we claimed her.
Why ‘twas almost as if it were planned.

Cleopatre’, a damned fine French frigate
Had the gall to challenge our power,
But we boarded, she struck and surrendered.
All over in under an hour.

We had many a duel with ‘Froggie’.
Les Droits de l’Homme’ was the best,
Of 84 guns, she was mightier than us,
But we drove her aground, just off Brest.

You came with me up to Westminster,
But MP’ing was never for me,
I was glad that it lasted no more than two years,
And rejoiced to be called back to sea.

Ah, you’ll never forget, my good Thomas
When we lay off the port of Algiers,
And gave ‘em the option of freeing those slaves
Or risk it all ending in tears.

They paid dearly that day, my good Thomas,
Though we lost too many fine men,
But those 3000 slaves were freed from the ‘Dey
And could breathe God’s fresh air , once again.

Those cannon now sitting beside us
Are relics of a glorious day.
When we proved that the honour of England
Was not held in contempt by the ‘Dey’.

We shared some brave days, my good Thomas
And I’ve no time for rank or for class,
You served our King George just as well as did I.
So draw up a chair, fill a glass,
And we’ll drink to all of our shipmates
Who defended old England’s proud name.
And pledge that if ever the call comes
We’ll be ready for more of the same,
Aye we’ll both do it all over again.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..
Battle of Algiers – an aside …..

Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers

Two places, Teignmouth and Algiers, linked in time by one man, Sir Edward Pellew.

This post is specifically about one of his greatest victories – the Bombardment of Algiers and freeing of 1000 Christian slaves.  The bombardment actually took place tomorrow (27th) but I have something else planned for that.

Interestingly the poem is written by an American poet but was rejected by a USA publication, the ‘Atlantic Magazine’: “Lord Exmouth’s Victory at Algiers in the year 1816, we skipped, because we think it is unpatriotic to write or read about English naval victories while our own are unsung” (2 April 1825).

Lord Exmouth’s Victory at Algiers — 1816.

(John G. C. Brainard)

The sun look’d bright upon the morning tide:
Light play’d the breeze along the whispering shore,
And the blue billow arch’d its head of pride,
As ‘gainst the rock its frothy front it bore;
The clear bright dew fled hastily before
The morning’s sun, and glitter’d in his rays;
Aloft the early lark was seen to soar,
And cheerful nature glorified the ways
Of God, and mutely sang her joyous notes of praise.

The freshening breeze, the sporting wave,
Their own impartial greeting gave
To Christian and to Turk;
But both prepared to break the charm
Of peace, with war’s confused alarm—
And ready each, for combat warm,
Commenc’d the bloody work.

For England’s might was on the seas,
With red cross flapping in the breeze,
And streamer floating light;
While the pale crescent, soon to set,
Waved high on tower and minaret,
And all the pride of Mahomet
Stood ready for the fight.

Then swell’d the noise of battle high;
The warrior’s shout, the coward’s cry,
Rung round the spacious bay.
Fierce was the strife, and ne’er before
Had old Numidia’s rocky shore
Been deafen’d with such hideous roar,
As on that bloody day.

It seem’d as if that earth-born brood,
Which, poets say, once warr’d on God,
Had risen from the sea;—
As if again they boldly strove
To seize the thunderbolts of Jove,
And o’er Olympian powers to prove
Their own supremacy.

What though the sun has sunk to rest?
What though the clouds of smoke invest
The capes of Matisou?—
Still by the flash each sees his foe,
And, dealing round him death and wo,
With shot for shot, and blow for blow,
Fights — to his country true.

Each twinkling star look’d down to see
The pomp of England’s chivalry,
The pride of Britain’s crown!
While ancient Aetna rais’d his head,
Disgorging from his unknown bed
A fire, that round each hero shed
A halo of renown.

The dying sailor cheer’d his crew,
While thick around the death-shot flew;
And glad was he to see
Old England’s flag still streaming high,—
Her cannon speaking to the sky,
And telling all the pow’rs on high,
Of Exmouth’s victory!

The crescent wanes — the Turkish might
Is vanquish’d in the bloody fight,
The Pirate’s race is run;—
Thy shouts are hush’d, and all is still
On tow’r, and battlement, and hill,
No, loud command — no answer shrill—
Algiers! thy day is done!

The slumb’ring tempest swell’d its breath,
And sweeping o’er the field of death,
And o’er the waves of gore,
Above the martial trumpet’s tone,
Above the wounded soldier’s moan,
Above the dying sailor’s groan,
Rais’d its terrific roar.

Speed swift, ye gales, and bear along
This burden for the poet’s song,
O’er continent and sea:
Tell to the world that Britain’s hand
Chastis’d the misbelieving band,
And overcame the Paynim land
In glorious victory.

Want to know more? Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..
John Brainard and poem notes …..
Battle of Algiers – an interesting aside ….

Oystercatchers Café

Oystercatchers Cafe

Oystercatchers Cafe

Moving into town from the Whistlestop café you are spoilt for choice. One of the interesting establishments can be found in Northumberland Place – the Oystercatchers Café.

It’s an iconic site at low tide on the Teign, the vivid black, white and orange of the oystercatchers shoveling in the cockle and mussel beds of the Salty and the other mud flats of the Teign.

Likewise the eponymous café is iconic in its own way.  The black and white of coffee swirls in the confluence of blues sessions, folk music, poetry evenings, science ‘lectures’ and other regular events.

This is a little tribute, written as a Fibonacci reverse and verse, where science and poetry elide.

Oystercatchers Café

All-day breakfast at the Oystercatchers Café, or a chilli, soup and garlic bread.
Thinking instead of science, poems, acoustic blues,
folk music. Food of love, play on!
Americano,
espresso
coffee
black.
White,
black,
orange
beaks probing,
roaming the shallows,
going with the flow of the tide,
bills jiving the mud hiding the cockles and mussels
rustled up daily, the all-day table d’hôte breakfast at the oystercatchers’ café.

Want to know more?  Checkout:

Oystercatchers Cafe facebook site ….

Eddies

Whistlestop Cafe, Teignmouth Station

Whistlestop Cafe, Teignmouth Station

My last post was the 50th.  When I started this I never believed that I would have reached fifty verses in some way associated with Teignmouth and its surrounds.  And still they come.  Today it’s time for a break from the past and back to the present day ….. for a while.

Teignmouth has a bounteous collection of cafés to cater for all tastes, along the seafront, in the town, indoors and al fresco.  The setting of this poem always reminds me of Fried Green Tomatoes.  It is the Whistlestop café of course and, in keeping with the name, can be found at the railway station.  These days it is also a congregation point for bikers.

Thanks to Don Pearson for this.

Eddies

(Don Pearson, 30th May 2008)
(For Melissa and all at the Whistle Stop, Teignmouth)

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”

 He was sitting at the Whistle Stop café.
The whistle blew, the train curved to a halt.
He raised his coffee
and sipped.

A kingfisher burns a blue flash
across my mind.
The after-image glides into life,
water boatmen skull effortlessly,
dragonflies are on patrol,
a heron waits for the silvering fish.

The water laughs gently.
Beneath, pebbles gaily dance
For joy of sunshine.
I swirl figures of eight
In the water,
cup my hands
below the surface,
raise them, as if in offering,
and sip.

Jewelled droplets sparkle
back into the pond.

Here, only, and now, only,
is my world,
a canvas on which
to paint my existence,
to make my mark,
my bequest.
This is the eye
of my storm.

I reach out, precisely
but, through the water,
not quite where I expect to be.
I find my answer,
but, through the water,
not precisely where it might have been.
I tickle it from repose,
nestling it in my hand.

Briefly
I endow it with energy

Briefly
time holds my breath

Briefly,
the stone hangs in space

skims across the calm,
leaves its footprints,
sinks from sight.

From each skip,
with fearless symmetry,
ripples spread, converge,
reflecting and diffracting,
to form sunlit patterns
of chaotic splendour
amongst the water lilies.
A grebe shrills in joy.

He was sitting at the Whistle Stop café.
The whistle blew, the train pulled away.
He raised his coffee,
as if in thanks,
and sipped.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Whistlestop cafe Facebook site

Lines to Lord Exmouth

Pellew and Drake

Pellew and Drake

The Pellew Poem countdown is starting and this will challenge you!!

I have never heard of the poet I Plimsott, nor can I yet find out anything about him, but I do know he writes prodigious verse.

Bizarrely this poem features in a book called ‘The Temptation of Christ’, which is the main poem in the book but then followed by a number of other shorter poems. They all seem to be of the form of a ‘stream of consciousness’ with no obvious breaks for stanzas. Perhaps poets didn’t take a breath in those days!  The Temptation of Christ runs to 170 odd pages.  Thankfully, this poem, which is untitled, is somewhat shorter but still homeric in content.

According to the author the inspiration for his poem came from ‘reading the following inscription on the Fly-Leaf of a presentation-copy of the life of Sir Francis Drake to Admiral Lord Exmouth, by a descendant of the former, and one bearing his imperishable name.’

 

TO

LORD AND LADY EXMOUTH

WITH

SIR FRANCIS AND LADY DRAKE’S

Best Respects and Grateful Remembrances.

Malvern Wells. 27th June, l829.

 

Incredible that a descendant of Francis Drake would have given this book to Edward Pellew.

Good luck!

Lines to Lord Exmouth

(I Plimsott, publication 1869)

HOW rife of deep and thrilling interest
This simple incident in social life!
How pregnant with Reality’s romance
The thoughts and retrospections it awakens!
For thus, through Friendship’s genial impulses,
Are brought into close contact with each other
Two mighty and illustrious naval chiefs,
Though in Time’s circuit placed so wide apart.
As actors on the fields of human strife; –
Thus to the mind’s eye are made visible
At the same moment, in the expanse serene
Of peaceful life’s benign and joyous sky,
Two brilliant, potent, and beneficent orbs
Which had before, in widely separate ages.
Shone forth in War’s portentous firmament,
And shed effulgence on the British name; –
Stars, which had by the tutelary might
O’er Britain, and, through her, o’er all the world.
Wherewith their influence and career were fraught,
Swayed mightily the destiny of this realm,
And proved themselves Heaven’s chosen ministers
Of weal and blessing to the human race.
Felicitous encounter, this, betwixt
The mighty living and the mightier dead! –
If immortality-crowned mortals e’er
Can rightly with departed ones be numbered.
What spectacle could prove more spirit-stirring
To all reflecting and true Englishmen,
But chiefly to Devonians justly proud
Of those undying Worthies who have shed
Such peerless lustre on their native shire! –
How vividly suggestive, at this hour,
When Froude’s historic powers are stirring up,
In many a Briton’s breast, the slumbering embers
Of patriotic ardour, and thereto
Fresh fuel adding, as his graphic pen
Resuscitates, and re-displays to view,
The marvels of the Elizabethan age!
Drake and Pellew ! In one we recognize
This habitable globe’s first compasser!
Likewise the bold confronter and defeater
Of Spain’s, so-called| Invincible Armada!
In the heroic second we descry
The conqueror of Algeria’s savage lord!
Happy conjunction of redoubtable names,
And memories which make those names immortal,
Their scenes of action, bellicose exploits,
The foes colossal they had fought and conquered,
And the inestimable blessings linked
With all these, in the thoughtful British mind –
As earthly friendship’s gifts thus strikingly
Exhibit them to contemplation’s gaze!
How potent to awaken recollections
Of England’s glory in the eventful past;
Her many brilliant naval victories;
Her proud supremacy upon the sea;
And her deliverance from the Papal yoke!
Not in his actual person, it is true,
Did Drake thus visit his compatriot,
As if to show, that like some modern Tishbite,
He had defied Death’s devastating touch;
That in his race with Time he held his own
And kept abreast of it and its events –
Pellew’s contemporary thus becoming ; –
For Drake had had to wage, as well as others,
An unsuccessful contest with that foe;
Had been prostrated by its direful stroke.
And like all other mortals, great and small,
Save Enoch and Elijah, had succumbed
To that relentless enemy of man.
Yet Death had claimed but the corporeal substance
Of that illustrious departed one
Whereon to prey and work its ravages –
On it possessing an undoubted right
To inflict whatever havoc it might list –
But o’er the nobler portion of his being,
That which most worthy is to be called man,
It had not, nor could exercise, dominion,
Or morally disorganizing power.
He still was living, in life’s higher sense,
And to Reflection’s optics visible.
Yes! it was in his ‘Life ‘ that Drake appeared
To that brave follower in his footsteps –
Exmouth -His ‘Life,’ as History had emblazoned it.
He came, – that he might amicably greet
The scourger of barbarian cruelty,
And liberator of its hapless victims;
He came to thank him that he had redeemed
From Islamism’s fell and cruel thrall,
(As he himself had rescued in times past.
His countrymen from Rome’s dire tyranny)
Those votaries of Christianity
Whom piracy had placed within its grasp;
And that because, as the executor
Of heaven’s unerring and retributive justice,
He had inflicted on the barbarous author
Of their captivity and sufferings.
So richly merited a punishment.
And his strongholds so utterly o’erthrown.
His visit’s purport likewise was to render
Thanks, and encomiums pass on brave Pellew,
That he so oft triumphantly had waged
Contention with the naval might of France –
Our then most potent foe upon the main –
And England’s liberty and homes, thereby,
Defended, and their sanctity and peace,
So greatly aided to perpetuate –
Ev’n as he had himself, ages before,
On the same vast, unstable battle field,
Vanquished and humbled fierce and haughty Spain.
He came to vindicate and eulogize
A life then verging ‘twards its earthly close;
To loud pronounce the verdict of his judgment,
And tribute of his praise thereon award;
To say to the illustrious peer – ‘well done!’-
Anticipating thus the self-same verdict
Ordained to be, ere long, pronounced
On the great Sailor, in the court above,
By an unerring and far higher judge;
Foretokening righteous heaven’s entire approval
Of qualities in the brave warrior’s breast
Transcending mightily, in worth and glory.
Those which had so distinguished him ‘mongst men;
For although valour and philanthropy
Had signalized his brilliant course on earth,
As one of Britain’s champions and defenders
He had not vainly trusted in his own
Heroic and beneficent exploits
In succour of oppressed humanity,
Or in his many signal victories
O’er England’s mightiest maritime opponent,
And as her delegated instrument
To smite the oppressor and the enslaved set free;
In none of these achievements, nor the fame
He had acquired — though they had much conduced
To his country’s glory, peace, and happiness –
Had trusted, whereby to secure God’s favour,
And the salvation of his deathless soul.
But solely to the merits of that Saviour
Who on Gethsemane had agonized
And on the hill of Calvary had died –
The Just One for the unjust — that all those
Believing in Him might not perish, but
Obtain forgiveness, endless life, and joy –
For in this faith and hope Lord Exmouth died!

 

Want to know more?  Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..

 

Funeral Instructions

Harry Buxton Forman,

Harry Buxton Forman,

Thanks to Tacy Rickard for discovering this quirky historic reference.

This is the story of Henry Buxton Forman, born 1852, whose family moved to Teignmouth from London when he was ten. He became an accomplished literary forger with many of his works targeted at the American market where there was a special interest in works of Shelley.

Forman died after a long illness on 15 June 1917 and his ashes were sprinkled on the River Teign that flowed near his Devon childhood home. He left his funeral instructions in an untitled published verse:

Let the prison’d litch-fire batten on the tissues
Leaving naught but ashes, clean and grey and pure
Gather, friends, the handful that from the furnace issues,
Cushion them in crane-bill, and bear them to the Moor.
Ashes of her poet, bear them to one land,
Take them up to Dartmoor and strow them in the Teign,
Bid the river roll them, roll them through his own land,
Rush them through the harbour and lose them in the Main!

 Want to know more? Check out:

 Henry Buxton Forman …..

The Dutton

East Indiaman Dutton

East Indiaman Dutton

Back to Sir Edward Pellew. He was courageous not just in naval action but in everyday life as well. This poem recognises that characterisation by being a permanent record on his memorial at Christow.

Sir Edward Pellew and his wife were in their carriage on their way to dine with the Vicar of Charles, when they saw that the East Indiaman, the “Dutton”, driven into Plymouth Sound by the storm, was in difficulties. He managed to get aboard, though in doing so injured his back. Taking charge, he ensured that all on board, over 500 souls, including women and children were saved.

The poem, written by a spectator of the event, was recited at a public dinner given by the Corporation of Plymouth to honour the hero. The event is also recorded in a painting in Plymouth Museum.

 

The Dutton

(Anon)
(Note: this is my title – the original piece seems to be untitled)

 While o’er the reeling wreck the savage storm
Pour’d all its lightnings, thunders, blasts, and hail;
And every horror in its wildest form
Smote the firm heart, that never knew to fail;

‘Twas thine, Pellew, sublimely great and good!
For man, thy brother man, distress’d, to dare
The dreadful passage of the raging flood,
And join the frantic children of despair.

There it was thine, in comfort’s balmy tone.
To soothe their sorrows ‘mid the tempest’s roar;
To hush the mother’s shriek, the sick man’s groan,
And bear the suff’rers trembling to the shore.

So when this mighty orb, in dread alarm.
Shall crash in ruins, at its God’s decree;
May thy Redeemer, with triumphant arm.
From the vast wreck of all things rescue thee.

 

Want to know more? Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..
Poem Notes …..