1797 7

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A Family Dialogue,
On a Son's Wishing to Go to Sea

The Morning Post (August 22, 1797)

Tell me, dear Giles, your favorite views,
Your wish is mine, I'd have you chuse,
Tis time to fix, you're growing old,
For twice six years are nearly told.
The learn'd professions are but three,
Say, which of these you wish to be.

    "Not of the law, I cannot drudge,"
"I'm sure I ne'er should be a judge;"
"Not of the church, perhaps to clear,"
"As you do, fifty pounds a year;"[1]
"Throw physic to the dogs for me,"
"My choice, my object is the sea."

    And can you tear yourself away
From your young friends at school, at play,
From quoits, from cricket, from the chance,
The comforts of your native place,
And each lov'd parent's fond embrace?
And can you wish, instead of these,
The toils, the dangers of the seas,
The cot, the watch, the inclement air,
The darken'd mess-room's scanty fare,
The six years servitude below,
And all the hardships sailors know?

    "Full well I know the change is great,"
"But yet be mine a sailor's fate."
"Quick let me sail, when haughty Spain"
"Claims the wide empire of the main."
"I burn to go 'midst war's alarms"
"When Britain calls her sons to arms,"
"And Howe commands, and Jervis leads"
"Her gallant fleet to glorious deeds."
"O grant my wish, and let my choice"
"Be sanction'd by a father's voice."

    No more you wishes I oppose,
Go and engage your country's foes,
Pursue your brave but dangerous plan,
In age a child, in mind a man.

Should heaven regard a father's prayer,
And save a mother from despair,
Protect amidst the bloody strife
Our infant hero's valued life,
A future war may place your name,
Conspicuous in the lists of fame,
In many an arduous conflict tried,
The dread of France, your country's pride.
If to our wish that day be given,
We ask no other boon of Heaven.


1. Note that this poem is written in the voice of a clergyman.

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