The Capitol Dome

Fall 2014

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THE CAPITOL DOME 40 NOW, George the ird rules not alone, For George the Vandal shares the throne, True flesh of flesh, and bone of bone. God save us from the fangs of both; Or, one a Vandal, one a Goth, May roast or broil us into froth. Like Danes, of old, their fleet they man, And rove from Beersheba to Dan, To burn, and beard us—where they can. ey say, at George the Fourth's command, is vagrant host were sent, to land And leave in every house a brand. An idiot only would require Such war—the worst they could desire— e felon's war—the war of fire. e warfare, now, the invaders make, Must surely keep us all awake, Or life is lost for freedom's sake. ey said to Cockburn, "honest Cock! To make a noise and give a shock, Push off, and burn their navy-dock: "eir capitol shall be emblazed! How will the buckskins stand amazed, And curse the day its walls were raised!" Six thousand heroes disembark: Each left at night his floating ark, And Washington was made their mark. at few would fight them—few or none— Was by their leaders clearly shown, And, "Down," they said, "with Madison!" How close they crept along the shore! As closely as if Rodgers saw her— A frigate to a seventy-four. A veteran host, by veterans led, With Ross and Cockburn at their head, ey came—they saw—they burn'd—and fled. But not unpunish'd they retired; ey something paid, for all they fired, In soldiers kill'd, and chiefs expired. Five hundred veterans bit the dust, Who came, inflamed with lucre's lust— And so they waste—and so they must. ey left our Congress naked walls— Farewell to towers and capitals! To lofty roofs and splendid halls! To courtly domes and glittering things, To folly, that too near us clings, To courtiers who—'tis well—had wings. Farewell to all but glorious war, Which yet shall guard Potomac's shore, And honour lost, and fame restore. To conquer armies in the field, Was, once, the surest method held To make a hostile country yield. e mode is this, now acted on: In conflagrating Washington, ey held our independence gone! Supposing George's house at Kew Were burn'd, (as we intend to do,) Would that be burning England too? Supposing, near the silver ames We laid in ashes their Saint James, Or Blenheim palace wrapp'd in flames; Made Hampton Court to fire a prey, And meanly, then, to sneak away, And never ask them, what's to pay? Editor's Note: e burning of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812 motivated Philip Freneau, sea captain, newspaper editor, and poet, to write this poem. Freneau had been captured during the Revolution and briefly imprisoned on a British prison ship. No friend of the British, he was outraged by the conflagration of the nation's capital in 1814 and called for reprisals. Conflagration of Washington By Philip Freneau (1752–1832) August 24, 1814 ——— Iam deiphobi debit ampla ruinam, Vulcano superante, domus; Iam proximus ardet Ucalegon.—VIRGIL 1

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