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Admiral Lord Collingwood

Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802 (Chelsea) – 1838 (Cape Coast)



METHINKS it is a glorious thing,
To sail upon the deep ;
A thousand sailors under you,
Their watch and ward to keep :

To see your gallant battle-flag,
So scornfully unrolled,
As scarcely did the wild wind dare
To stir one crimson fold:

To watch the frigates scattered round,
Like birds upon the wing;
Yet know, they only wait your will—
It is a glorious thing.

Our Admiral stood on the deck,
And looked upon the sea;
He held the glass in his right hand,
And far and near looked he:

He could not see one hostile ship
Abroad upon the main ;
From east to west, from north to south,
It was his own domain.

“Good news is this for Old England,”
Forth may her merchants fare
Thick o’er the sea—no enemy
Will cross the pathway there.

A paleness came upon his cheek,
A shadow to his brow :
Alas, our good Lord Collingwood,
What is it ails him now!

Tears stand within the brave man’s eyes,
Each softer pulse is stirred ;
It is the sickness at the heart,
Of hope too long deferred.

He’s pining for his native seas,
And for his native shore :
All but his honour he would give,
To be at home once more.

He does not know his children’s face,
His wife might pass him by,
He is so altered—did they meet,
With an unconscious eye :

He has been many years at sea,
He’s worn with wind and wave :
He asks a little breathing space,
Between it and his grave:

He feels his breath come heavily,
His keen eye faint and dim;
It was a weary sacrifice,
That England asked of him.

He never saw his home again—
The deep voice of the gun,
The lowering of his battle-flag,
Told when his life was done.

His sailors walked the deck, and wept;
Around them howled the gale;
And far away two orphans knelt,
A widow’s cheek grew pale.

Amid the many names that light
Our history’s blazoned line,
I know not one, brave Collingwood,
That touches me like thine.

There is a brief but most affecting memoir of Lord Collingwood, in Fisher’s National Portrait Gallery. Feeling every hour his health failing him, he repeatedly petitioned to be recalled—his services were too valuable, and he died in his “high command.” I know nothing more touching than the affectionate regrets he expresses in his letters to his children, that they are growing up in ignorance of their father.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on August 25, 2016

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Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

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