Tag Archives: Lord Exmouth

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 …..

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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 ….

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 …..

 

THE DEFENCE OF ORDER

Sir Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth

Sir Edward Pellew, Lord Exmouth

Over the next couple of weeks I shall be posting a series of poems about the exploits of Sir Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth. He is probably Teignmouth’s most famous historical figure and was the inspiration behind the C S Forester Hornblower novels. Through a rare combination of extraordinary courage and seamanship he progressed rapidly through the naval ranks to follow in Nelson’s footsteps as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet and subsequently Vice-Admiral UK. Not bad for someone who ran away to sea at age 13!

His principal family home was at Canonteign in the Teign valley but the last twenty years of his life was spent at Westcliffe House (now Bitton House) in Teignmouth.

So why have I waited to post about him until now? One of his most famous naval engagements was the Bombardment of Algiers which is remembered in Teignmouth on 27th August.

This first piece of verse is actually just an extract from a much larger piece of work (an epic running to 130 odd pages) by Josiah Walker in 1803. The work is essentially a eulogy of Britain’s role in maintaining world order, a large part through its naval supremacy from the 16th century onwards. It’s interesting that Pellew, who would have been in his forties at the time, had gained such heroic recognition as to be included in this massive work.

 

The defence of order

Josiah Walker, (Jan 1 1803)

Nor second brave Pellew, in whom were joined
Valour as firm and clemency as kind.

Oh! For a bard, in deathless tints, to trace
His double form, as now, with dreadful grace,
In midnight flames, on hostile shores, it shone,
Now, in the beams of mercy, on his own(1)

Wild raved the storm, the waves, with thundering roar,
And crash astounding, heaved against the shore
The blackened fragment of a mighty wreck,
Where shrieking wretches clasped the rifted deck,
And, through the surge, the water daemon rushed,
His bony cheek with ravenous rapture flushed.
Swift flew the hero, pained, possessed alone
By others’ danger, heedless of his own,
Plunged in the gulph of death, with proud disdain,
Grappled the monster in the boiling main,
And, from his grasp, the trembling victims bore,
Mid shouting thousands to the echoing shore.

How glowed his breast, as each dim eye, upraised,
On him, with faint returning lustre, gazed!
Oh! For an hour of such supreme delight!
The rich repose, the dreams of such a night!

Yes, bold Pellew! Though first on Gallia’s brow
To stamp dismay, even then less glorious thou,
Than, when retired, on victory’s proudest eve,
The widowed parent’s anguish to relieve(2);
To praise a fallen foe with noble zeal,
And tell how Britain’s boisterous tars can feel.
Yet ah! Illustrious guardians of her doom!
Why send the brave, unhonoured, to the tomb?
Why the maimed rite to hostile valour paid?
Why wreak resentment on a soldier’s shade?
Or dream, by funeral insult, to debase
The dust of him, Pellew had deigned to praise?

Want to know more? Check out:

Sir Edward Pellew …..
Poem Notes …..
The Defence of Order, the book …..