1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to the Soldiers of the 37th Regiment.

Scots Magazine 36 (May 1774) 255.

Anonymous


The full title is given as: "Ode spoken by Lt.-Col. Pennington, to the Soldiers of the 37th Regiment, at Fort George, on the 1st of January, 1774, at a dinner which he gave them in a large store house; present 250 men, 64 women, and 42 children." This stirring imitation of Milton's L'Allegro celebrates the heroism of the 37th regiment in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, the less successful German campaign that followed, and at the 1759 victory at Minden over the French in the Seven Year's War: "The future times will wonder at the fact, | And scarce believe it was an human act: | The plains of Minden, Sparta must agree, | Surpasses e'en her fam'd Thermopylae."



Fly hence! be gone! heart-wringing Care
And Discontent — a gloomy pair!
Drag with you all the past year's pain,
And every ill that crowd your train;
For laughing Mirth and honest Cheer,
Shall welcome in the new-born year.

Welcome to our festive board,
Trusty brothers of the sword!
Welcome all your social band,
Faithful guardians of the land,
Asserters of Britannia's right,
Renown'd for war and martial fight.

The neigh'bring field your valour shows,
Where Macintoshes — hardy foes!
Lie buried in distinguish'd heaps:
Still o'er these sons Britannia weeps,
Lamenting virtue so disgrac'd,
And gallant spirit so misplac'd.
Within the isle then peace restor'd,
Your aid the German powers implor'd:
At Lafeldt soon you shewed the foe,
What prowess could with conduct do;
The General, conscious 'twas your due,
By public thanks distinguish'd you:
Minden, upon the rolls of Fame,
Gives you a great and glorious name,
Where, on a plain extended wide,
Out-number'd far on ev'ry side,
You taught the world what Valour cou'd,
Arm'd in the cause of Public Good,
Effect—

—Six corps alone the battle gain'd,
And Vic'try to the British standard chain'd,
Gallantly forc'd her from a num'rous throng,
Who counted full an hundred thousand strong.
The future times will wonder at the fact,
And scarce believe it was an human act:
The plains of Minden, Sparta must agree,
Surpasses e'en her fam'd Thermopylae.

Let these great acts for ever be
Deep rooted in your memory,
And ever present to your view,
To virtue rouse and stim'late you,
That when again, on war's alarm,
Your country claims your 'vengeful arm,
Th' implanted sense of former fame,
May give new lustre to your name,
And teach the world this glorious truth,
That, train'd to war, the British youth,
With patriotic zeal inspir'd,
Their breasts with love of glory fir'd,
All nations on the earth excell,
Are matchless and invincible.

Thus shall your country's annals boast your corps,
And, glorious thought! in ages hence,
Some valiant chief to stimulate the more
And urge his troops, the battle in suspence,
Shall hold your great example to their view,
And owe his wreath of victory to you:
This influence will your living virtue have,
And thus you'll serve your country in the grave.

[p. 255]