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 ……
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.
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