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The Pilot That Weath'd The Storm

George Canning 1770 (Marylebone, Middlesex) – 1827 (Chiswick, Middlesex)



If hush'd the loud whirlwind that ruffled the deep,
 The sky, if no longer dark tempests deform;
When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
 No!--Here's to the Pilot who weather'd the storm!

At the foot-stool of Power let flattery fawn,
 Let Faction her idols extol to the skies;
To virtue in humble resentment withdrawn,
 Unblam'd may the merits of gratitude rise.

And shall not His memory to Britain be dear,
 Whose example with envy all nations behold;
A Statesman unbiass'd by int'rest or fear,
 By pow'r uncorrupted, untainted by gold?

Who, when terror and doubt thro' the universe reign'd,
 While rapine and treason their standards unfurl'd,
The heart and the hopes of his Country maintain'd,
 And one kingdom preserv'd 'midst the wreck of the world.

Unheeding, unthankful, we bask in the blaze,
 While the beams of the sun in full majesty shine;
When he sinks into twilight, with fondness we gaze,
 And mark the mild lustre that gilds his decline.

Lo! Pitt, when the course of thy greatness is o'er,
 Thy talents, thy virtues, we fondly recall!
Now justly we prize thee, when lost we deplore;
 Admir'd in thy zenith, but lov'd in thy fall!

O! take, then--for dangers by wisdom repell'd,
 For evils, by courage and constancy brav'd--
O take! for a throne by thy counsels upheld,
 The thanks of a people thy firmness has sav'd!

And O! if again the rude whirlwind should rise!
 The dawning of Peace should fresh darkness deform,
The regrets of the good, and the fears of the wise,
 Shall turn to the Pilot that weather'd the storm!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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George Canning

George Canning, FRS, was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and was briefly Prime Minister. Canning was born into an Anglo-Irish family at his parents' home in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, London. Canning described himself as "an Irishman born in London". His father, George Canning, Sr., of Garvagh, County Londonderry, Ireland, was a gentleman of limited means, a failed wine merchant and lawyer, who renounced his right to inherit the family estate in exchange for payment of his substantial debts. George Sr. eventually abandoned the family and died in poverty on 11 April 1771, his son's first birthday, in London. Canning's mother, Mary Anne Costello, took work as a stage actress, a profession not considered respectable at the time. Indeed when in 1827 it looked as if Canning would become Prime Minister, Lord Grey remarked that "the son of an actress is, ipso facto, disqualified from becoming Prime Minister". more…

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