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Toll for the Brave!
The brave that are no more!
All sunk beneath the wave
Fast by their native shore!
Eight hundred of the brave
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel
And laid her on her side.
A land-breeze shook the shrouds
And she was overset;
Down went the _Royal George_,
With all her crew complete.
Toll for the brave!
Brave Kempenfelt is gone:
His last sea-fight is fought,
His work of glory done.
It was not in the battle;
No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak,
She ran upon no rock.
His sword was in its sheath,
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfeld went down
With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup
The tear that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again
Full charged with England's thunder,
And plough the distant main:
But Kempenfeld is gone,
His victories are o'er;
And he and his eight hundred
Shall plough the wave no more.
W. COWPER., THE GOLDEN TREASURY Of the best Songs and Lyrical Pieces In the English Language Selected by Francis Turner Palgrave
Notes: Richard Kempenfelt (1718 – 29 August 1782) was a British rear-admiral. He saw service in the West Indies, taking part in the capture of Portobelo during the War of Jenkins' Ear. In 1746 he returned to England, and from then to 1780, when he was made rear-admiral, he saw active service in the East Indies with Sir George Pocock and in various quarters of the world. In 1781 he won the Battle of Ushant, with a vastly inferior force, defeating the French fleet under De Guichen and capturing 20 ships. On August 29 1782, the Royal George was being heeled off Portsmouth to allow repairs the larboard cannons' weight on the ship's central frame caused excessively decayed timbers to break. Water rushed into the gun ports and the ship sank before a distress signal could be sent. 900 people were estimated to have lost their lives, for besides the crew there were a large number of tradesmen and women and children on board. About 230 people were saved, some by running up the rigging while others were picked up by boats from other vessels. Kempenfelt was writing in his cabin when the ship sank; the cabin doors had jammed due to the ship heeling and he perished with the rest.
Tags: Loss poems, history poetry

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