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A Toast. Lines on the Commemoration of Rodney's Victory


Instead of a song, boys, I'll give you a toast, Here's the memory of those on the twelfth that we lost; That we lost, did I say, nay, by heav'n that we found, For their fame it shall last while the world goes round. The next in succession, I'll give you the King, Whoe'er wou'd betray him, on high may he swing; And here's the grand fabric, our free Constitution, As built on the base of our great Revolution; And longer with Politics, not to be cramm'd, Be Anarchy curs'd, and be Tyranny damn'd; And who wou'd to Liberty e'er prove disloyal, May his son be a hangman, and he his first trial.

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David Hayman

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1793 and is read here by David Hayman.

More about this poem

Admiral George Brydges Rodney (1718-1792) won an important victory against the French navy near the Caribbean island of Dominica on 12 April 1792, sinking several enemy ships.

This victory helped to secure British control of the Atlantic, and was widely celebrated in the country.

There is some debate as to whether Burns was the author of the lines, given the poor quality of the verse, and the fact that there is no surviving holograph.

However, it is likely that he composed it extempore at a celebration in the King’s Arms in Dumfries in 1792. The poem itself was not published until the following year in The Advertiser.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this poem

war revolution politics

Selected for 12 April

A toast proposed, 'off the cuff' on this day in 1792 and reading as if it might indeed, actually have been extemporised - rather a sloppy performance. But the eloquent and clubbable Burns was ever the man for a, 'speech, speech'...

Donny O'Rourke

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