‘Hearts of Oak’
First sung by a Mr Champnes in ‘Harlequin’s Invasion’, 1759. The words are by David Garrick and the music by Dr Boyce, the Kensington composer. Boswell, in his Life of Johnston, tells how he was invited to sing a typically English song, while on a visit to Corsica. ‘Never did I see men so delighted with a song as the Corsicans were with Heart of Oak. Bravo Inglese! they cried. It was quite a joyous riot. I fancied myself to be a recruiting sea officer and all my chorus of Corsicans to be aboard the British Fleet’. The wonderful year of the first verse was 1759, the year of Pitt’s greatest triumphs, Minden, Quiberon, and Quebec.1
The music from a 1769 almanac is available via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come cheer up, my lads! ’tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves,
For who lives so free as we sons of the waves?
Hearts of oak are our ships, hearts of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We’ll fight and we’ll conquer again and again.
We ne’er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, we follow, and run them ashore,
For if they won’t fight us, what can we do more.
They swear they’ll invade us, these terrible foes,
They frighten our women, our children, and beaus;
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o’er,
Still Britons they’ll find to receive them on shore.
We’ll still make them run, and we’ll still make ’em sweat,
In spite of the Devil and Brussel’s Gazette;
Then cheer up my lads, with one voice let us sing,
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and Queen.
America’s Islands our thunder alarms,
And all its vast continent bows to our arms;
While bravely in Europe our heroes advance,
And Hodgson and Keppel strike terror to France.
If e’er the Monsieurs should attempt to invade,
We’ll deem it no more than a martial parade;
At their Quixote invasions we always shall smile,
And bid them remember the fate of Bellisle.
2. SONGS, NAVAL AND MILITARY. New-York: Printed by James Rivington, 1779. 128 pp.