A Humble Heroine
- by William Topaz McGonagall 100'Twas at the Seige of Matagarda, during the Peninsular War,
That a Mrs Reston for courage outshone any man there by far;
She was the wife of a Scottish soldier in Matagarda Port,
And to attend to her husband she there did resort.
'Twas in the Spring of the year 1810,
That General Sir Thomas Graham occupied Matagarda with 150 men;
These consisted of a detachment from the Scots Brigade,
And on that occasion they weren't in the least afraid.
And Captain Maclaine of the 94th did the whole of them command,
And the courage the men displayed was really grand;
Because they held Matagarda for fifty-four days,
Against o'erwhelming numbers of the French - therefore they are worthy of praise.
The British were fighting on behalf of Spain,
But if they fought on their behalf they didn't fight in vain;
For they beat them manfully by land and sea,
And from the shores of Spain they were forced to flee.
Because Captain Maclaine set about repairing the old fort,
So as to make it comfortable for his men to resort;
And there he kept his men at work day by day,
Filling sand-bags and stuffing them in the walls without delay.
There was one woman in the fort during those trying dags,
A Mrs Reston, who is worthy of great praise;
She acted like a ministering angel to the soldiers while there,
By helping them to fill sand-bags, it was her constant care.
Mrs Reston behaved as fearlessly as any soldier in the garrison,
And amongst the soldiers golden opinions she won,
For her presence was everywhere amongst the men,
And the service invaluable she rendered to them.
Methinks I see that brave heroine carrying her child,
Whilst the bullets were falling around her, enough to drive her wild;
And bending over it to protect it from danger,
Because to war's alarms it was a stranger.
And while the shells shrieked around, and their fragments did scatter,
She was serving the men at the guns with wine and water;
And while the shot whistled around, her courage wasn't slack,
Because to the soldiers she carried sand-bags on her back.
A little drummer boy was told to fetch water from the well,
But he was afraid because the bullets from the enemy around it fell;
And the Doctor cried to the boy, Why are you standing there?
But Mrs Reston said, Doctor, the bairn is feared, I do declare.
And she said, Give me the pail, laddie, I'll fetch the water,
Not fearing that the shot would her brains scatter;
And without a moment's hesitation she took the pail,
Whilst the shot whirred thick around her, yet her courage didn't fail.
And to see that heroic woman the scene was most grand,
Because as she drew the water a shot cut the rope in her hand;
But she caught the pail with her hand dexterously,
Oh! the scene was imposing end most beautiful to see.
The British fought bravely, as they are always willing to do,
Although their numbers were but few;
So they kept up the cannonading with their artillery,
And stood manfully at their guns against the enemy.
And five times the flagstaff was shot away,
And as often was it replaced without dismay;
And the flag was fastened to an angle of the wall,
And the British resolved to defend it whatever did befall.
So the French were beaten and were glad to run,
And the British for defeating them golden opinions have won
Ah through brave Captain Maclaine and his heroes bold,
Likewise Mrs Reston, whose name should be written in letters of gold.
A New Temperance Poem, in Memory of My Departed Parents, Who Were Sober Living & God Fearing People
- by William Topaz McGonagall 89My parents were sober living, and often did pray
For their family to abstain from intoxicating drink alway;
Because they knew it would lead them astray
Which no God fearing man will dare to gainsay.
Some people do say that God made strong drink,
But he is not so cruel I think;
To lay a stumbling block in his children's way,
And then punish them for going astray.
No! God has more love for his children, than mere man.
To make strong drink their souls to damn;
His love is more boundless than mere man's by far,
And to say not it would be an unequal par.
A man that truly loves his family wont allow them to drink,
Because he knows seldom about God they will think,
Besides he knows it will destroy their intellect,
And cause them to hold their parents in disrespect.
Strong drink makes the people commit all sorts of evil,
And must have been made by the Devil
For to make them quarrel, murder, steal, and fight,
And prevent them from doing what is right.
The Devil delights in leading the people astray,
So that he may fill his kingdom with them without delay;
It is the greatest pleasure he can really find,
To be the enemy of all mankind.
The Devil delights in breeding family strife,
Especially betwixt man and wife;
And if the husband comes home drunk at night,
He laughs and crys, ha! ha! what a beautiful sight.
And if the husband asks his supper when lie comes in,
The poor wife must instantly find it for him;
And if she cannot find it, he will curse and frown,
And very likely knock his loving wife down.
Then the children will scream aloud,
And the Devil no doubt will feel very proud,
If he can get the children to leave their own fireside,
And to tell their drunken father, they won't with him reside.
Strong drink will cause the gambler to rob and kill his brother,
Aye! also his father and his mother,
All for the sake of getting money to gamble,
Likewise to drink, cheat, and wrangle.
And when the burglar wants to do his work very handy,
He plies himself with a glass of Whisky, Rum, or Brandy,
To give himself courage to rob and kill,
And innocent people's blood to spill.
Whereas if he couldn't get Whisky, Rum, or Brandy,
He wouldn't do his work so handy;
Therefore, in that respect let strong drink be abolished in time,
And that will cause a great decrease in crime.
Therefore, for this sufficient reason remove it from society,
For seldom burglary is committed in a state of sobriety;
And I earnestly entreat ye all to join with heart and hand,
And to help to chase away the Demon drink from bonnie Scotland.
I beseech ye all to kneel down and pray,
And implore God to take it away;
Then this world would be a heaven, whereas it is a hell,
And the people would have more peace in it to dwell.
Poems by William Topaz McGonagall, William Topaz McGonagall's poems collection. William Topaz McGonagall is a classical and famous poet (1830 - 1902 / Edinburgh / Scotland). Share all poems of William Topaz McGonagall.
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