James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 2

Battle of the Baltic

By Thomas Campbell (1774–1844)

  • A victory gained by Nelson over the Danish fleet on April 2, 1801.

  • OF Nelson and the North

    Sing the glorious day’s renown,

    When to battle fierce came forth

    All the might of Denmark’s crown,

    And her arms along the deep proudly shone;

    By each gun the lighted brand

    In a bold determined hand,

    And the Prince of all the land

    Led them on.

    Like leviathans afloat

    Lay their bulwarks on the brine;

    While the sign of battle flew

    On the lofty British line—

    It was ten of April morn by the chime.

    As they drifted on their path

    There was silence deep as death;

    And the boldest held his breath

    For a time.

    But the might of England flushed

    To anticipate the scene;

    And her van the fleeter rushed

    O’er the deadly space between.

    “Hearts of oak!” our captain cried; when each gun

    From its adamantine lips

    Spread a death-shade round the ships,

    Like the hurricane eclipse

    Of the sun.

    Again! again! again!

    And the havock did not slack,

    Till a feeble cheer the Dane

    To our cheering sent us back;

    Their shots along the deep slowly boom—

    Then ceased—and all is wail,

    As they strike the shattered sail,

    Or, in conflagration pale,

    Light the gloom.

    Out spoke the victor then,

    As he hailed them o’er the wave:

    “Ye are brothers! ye are men!

    And we conquer but to save;

    So peace instead of death let us bring;

    But yield, proud foe, thy fleet,

    With the crews, at England’s feet,

    And make submission meet

    To our king.”

    Then Denmark blessed our chief,

    That he gave her wounds repose;

    And the sounds of joy and grief

    From her people wildly rose,

    As death withdrew his shades from the day.

    While the sun looked smiling bright

    O’er a wide and woeful sight,

    Where the fires of funeral light

    Died away.

    Now joy, Old England, raise!

    For the tidings of thy might,

    By the festal cities blaze,

    Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;

    And yet, amidst that joy and uproar,

    Let us think of them that sleep

    Full many a fathom deep,

    By thy wild and stormy steep,


    Brave hearts! to Britains pride

    Once so faithful and so true,

    On the deck of fame that died,

    With the gallant good Riou—

    Soft sigh the winds of heaven o’er their grave!

    While the billow mournful rolls,

    And the mermaid’s song condoles,

    Singing glory to the souls

    Of the brave!