The Defence of Order – Poem Notes

The following are the actual notes from the book ‘The Defence of Order’ which accompany the section of verse I have selected.

(1). ‘Now, in the beams of mercy, on his own’. The brilliant achievements of Sir Edward Pellew, during the late war, are innumerable. In the foregoing line, I allude, more particularly, to his destroying, with two frigates, the large French ship, Les droits des hommes, on the coast of France (14th January 1797), and to his own description of the scene. What follows relates to the Dutton, East Indiaman, which was driven ashore near Plymouth (25th January 1796); when Sir Edward, at the risk of his own life, caused himself to be hoisted through a tremendous surf, into the wreck, and was the means of preserving the lives of all on board.

(2). ‘The widowed parent’s anguish to relieve.’ Sir Edward Pellew seems to manage his pen with as much ability as his sword. His public letters are written in the best and manliest stile of a British seaman. I have also read, with much admiration, one of his private letters, which came into my hands in the course of business. It was addressed to a poor widow, in consequence of the death of her son, a seaman in his own ship. The happy mixture it contained, of that language, which was demanded by the dignity of his own station, with that respectful tenderness, which was due to the worth and misfortunes of the son, and to the venerable distress of the mother, struck me so forcibly, that, with the consent of those concerned, it was sent to the newspapers, and published in December, 1796.

To render the two paragraphs intelligible, beginning, “Yes, brave Pellew,” it is necessary to mention the following circumstances. Sir Edward Pellew received the honour of knighthood on taking the first French frigate that was captured in the war; the account of which he gave with brief and manly modesty; and with expressions of respect for his enemy, “Who fought us, “ he says, “like brave men.”. Their captain was killed in the engagement, and was afterwards buried at Portsmouth, without the honours of war; a circumstance, which, after reading sir Edward’s letter, I could not help regretting. Our able rulers were certainly far removed from the charge of neglecting the fortiter in re. They were, perhaps, in this instance, less attentive to the suaviter in modo. One would naturally be disposed to treat even the captain of a troop of robbers with more distinction than the followers, among whom his talents had raised him to that “bad pre-eminence” But, in a matter so difficult to determine as the time when forms of hostile courtesy are to be extended to revolters, I speak with much diffidence, and under an apprehension of probable error.

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One thought on “The Defence of Order – Poem Notes

  1. Pingback: THE DEFENCE OF ORDER | Teignmouth in Verse

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