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[Footnote A: See an anecdote related in Mr. Scott’s Border Minstrelsy. –W. W. 1807.

“Oh for an hour of Dundee” was an exclamation of Gordon of Glenbucket at Sheriffmuir.–Ed.]

The following is from Dorothy Wordsworth’s ‘Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland’, 1803:

“Thursday, September 8th.–Before breakfast we walked to the Pass of Killicrankie. A very fine scene; the river Garry forcing its way down a deep chasm between rocks, at the foot of high rugged hills covered with wood, to a great height. The pass did not, however, impress us with awe, or a sensation of difficulty or danger, according to our expectations; but, the road being at a considerable height on the side of the hill, we at first only looked into the dell or chasm. It is much grander seen from below, near the river’s bed. Everybody knows that this Pass is famous in military history. When we were travelling in Scotland, an invasion was hourly looked for, and one could not but think with some regret of the times when, from the now depopulated Highlands forty or fifty thousand men might have been poured down for the defence of the country, under such leaders as the Marquis of Montrose or the brave man who had so distinguished himself upon the ground where we were standing. I will transcribe a sonnet suggested to William by this place, and written in Oct. 1803.”


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Composed October 1803.–Published 1807 [A]

Included among the “Sonnets dedicated to Liberty”; re-named in 1845, “Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty.”–Ed.

Shout, for a mighty Victory is won!
On British ground the Invaders are laid low; The breath of Heaven has drifted them like snow, And left them lying in the silent sun,
Never to rise again!–the work is done. 5 Come forth, ye old men, now in peaceful show And greet your sons! drums beat and trumpets blow! Make merry, wives! ye little children, stun Your grandame’s ears with pleasure of your noise! [1] Clap, infants, clap your hands! Divine must be 10 That triumph, when the very worst, the pain, And even the prospect of our brethren slain, [2] Hath something in it which the heart enjoys:– In glory will they sleep and endless sanctity. [3]

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[Variant 1:


… with transports of your own. C.

… with transport of your noise! 1838.

The edition of 1840 returns to the text of 1807.]

[Variant 2:


The loss and e’en the prospect of the slain, MS. 1803.

And in ‘The Poetical Register’, 1803.

And prospect of our Brethren to be slain, MS. 1803.]

[Variant 3:


True glory, everlasting sanctity. MS. 1803.

And in ‘The Poetical Register’, 1803.]

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[Footnote A: _i. e._ in the edition of 1807, but this sonnet was previously printed in 1803 in ‘The Poetical Register’, vol. iii. p. 340, in the ‘Anti-Gallican’ (1804), and in the ‘Poetical Repository’ (1805).–Ed.]

This sonnet, as the title indicates, does not refer to an actual victory; because, since the Norman conquest, no “Invaders” have ever set foot “on British ground.” It was written–like the two preceding sonnets, and the one that follows it–“in anticipation” of Napoleon’s project for the invasion of England being actually carried out; a project never realised. The assembling of the immense French army destined for this purpose–one of the finest brought together since the days of the Roman legions–between the mouths of the Seine and the Texel, roused the spirit of English patriotism as it had never been roused before. Three hundred thousand volunteers were enlisted in Great Britain by the 10th of August 1803;

“all the male population of the kingdom from seventeen years of age to fifty-five were divided into classes to be successively armed and exercised” (Dyer).

The story of the failure of Napoleon’s scheme is too well known to be repeated in this note. Wordsworth seems to have written his sonnet in anticipation of what he believed would have been the inevitable issue of events, had the French army actually landed on British soil.–Ed.

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Composed 1803.–Published 1842

Included among the “Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty.”–Ed.

Come ye–who, if (which Heaven avert!) the Land Were with herself at strife, would take your stand, Like gallant Falkland, by the Monarch’s side, And, like Montrose, make Loyalty your pride– Come ye–who, not less zealous, might display 5 Banners at enmity with regal sway,
And, like the Pyms and Miltons of that day, Think that a State would live in sounder health If Kingship bowed its head to Commonwealth– Ye too–whom no discreditable fear 10 Would keep, perhaps with many a fruitless tear, Uncertain what to choose and how to steer– And ye–who might mistake for sober sense And wise reserve the plea of indolence– Come ye–whate’er your creed–O waken all, 15 Whate’er your temper, at your Country’s call; Resolving (this a free-born Nation can) To have one Soul, and perish to a man,
Or save this honoured Land from every Lord But British reason and the British sword. 20

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