CELT document E850004-021

The Surprise of Cremona

Thomas Osborne Davis

Edited by T. W. Rolleston

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    The surprise of Cremona


  1. From Milan to Cremona Duke Villeroy rode,
    And soft are the beds in his princely abode;
    In billet and barrack the garrison sleep,
    And loose is the watch which the sentinels keep:
    'Tis the eve of St. David, and bitter the breeze
    Of that mid-winter night on the flat Cremonese;
    A fig for precaution!—Prince Eugene sits down
    In winter cantonments round Mantua town!
  2. Yet through Ustiano, and out on the plain,
    Horse, foot, and dragoons, are defiling amain.
    “That flash!” said Prince Eugene: “Count Merci, push on”—
    Like a rock from a precipice Merci is gone.
    Proud mutters the Prince: “That is Cassioli's sign:”
    'Ere the dawn of the morning Cremona 'll be mine;
    For Merci will open the gate of the Po,
    But scant is the mercy Prince Vaudemont will shew!'
  3. Through gate, street, and square, with his keen cavaliers—
    A flood through a gulley—Count Merci careers—
    They ride without getting or giving a blow,
    Nor halt till they gaze on the gate of the Po.
    “Surrender the gate!”—but a volley replied,
    For a handful of Irish are posted inside
    By my faith, Charles Vaudemont will come rather late.
    If he stay till Count Merci shall open that gate!
  4.  p.321
  5. But in through St. Margaret's the Austrians pour,
    And billet and barrack are ruddy with gore;
    Unarmed and naked, the soldiers are slain—
    There's an enemy's gauntlet on Villeroy's rein—
    'A thousand pistoles and a regiment of horse—
    Release me, MacDonnell!'—they hold on their course
    Count Merci has seized upon cannon and wall,
    Prince Eugene's headquarters are in the Town-hall!
  6. Here and there, through the city, some readier band,
    For honour and safety, undauntedly stand.
    At the head of the regiments of Dillon and Burke
    Is Major O'Mahony, fierce as a Turk.
    His sabre is flashing—the major is dress'd,
    But muskets and shirts are the clothes of the rest!
    Yet they rush to the ramparts, the clocks have tolled ten,
    And Count Merci retreats with the half of his men.
  7. “In on them!” said Friedberg—and Dillon is broke,
    Like forest-flowers crushed by the fall of the oak;
    Through the naked battalions the cuirassiers go,—
    But the man, not the dress, makes the soldier, I trow
    Upon them with grapple, with bay'net, and ball,
    Like wolves upon gaze-hounds, the Irishmen fall—
    Black Friedberg is slain by O'Mahony's steel,
    And back from the bullets the cuirassiers reel.
  8. Oh! hear you their shout in your quarters, Eugene?
    In vain on Prince Vaudemont for succour you lean!
    The bridge has been broken, and, mark! how, pell-mell
    Come riderless horses, and volley and yell! p.322
    He's a veteran soldier—he clenches his hands,
    He springs on his horse, disengages his bands—
    He rallies, he urges, till, hopeless of aid,
    He is chased through the gates by the IRISH BRIGADE.
  9. News, news, in Vienna!—King Leopold's sad.
    News, news, in St. James's!—King William is mad.
    News, news, in Versailles!—'Let the Irish Brigade
    Be loyally honoured, and royally paid.'
    News, news, in old Ireland!—high rises her pride,
    And high sounds her wail for her children who died,
    And deep is her prayer: 'God send I may see
    MacDonnell and Mahony fighting for me!'

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Title (uniform): The Surprise of Cremona

Author: Thomas Osborne Davis

Editor: T. W. Rolleston

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Electronic edition compiled and proof corrections by: Beatrix Färber and Sara Sponholz

Edition statement

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 1100 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2011

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E850004-021

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description


  • First published in the Nation.

Other writings by Thomas Davis

  1. Thomas Davis, Essays Literary and Historical, ed. by D. J. O'Donoghue, Dundalk 1914.
  2. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (ed.), Thomas Davis, the memoirs of an Irish patriot, 1840-1846. 1890. [Reprinted entitled 'Thomas Davis' with an introduction of Brendan Clifford. Millstreet, Aubane Historical Society, 2000.]
  3. Thomas Davis: selections from his prose and poetry. [Edited] with an introduction by T. W. Rolleston. London and Leipzig: T. Fisher Unwin (Every Irishman's Library). 1910. [Published in Dublin by the Talbot press, 1914.]
  4. Thomas Osborne Davis, Literary and historical essays 1846. Reprinted 1998, Washington, DC: Woodstock Books.
  5. Essays of Thomas Davis. New York, Lemma Pub. Corp. 1974, 1914 [Reprint of the 1914 ed. published by W. Tempest, Dundalk, Ireland, under the title 'Essays literary and historical'.]
  6. Thomas Davis: essays and poems, with a centenary memoir, 1845-1945. Dublin, M.H. Gill and Son, 1945. [Foreword by an Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera.]
  7. Angela Clifford, Godless colleges and mixed education in Ireland: extracts from speeches and writings of Thomas Wyse, Daniel O'Connell, Thomas Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy, Frank Hugh O'Donnell and others. Belfast: Athol, 1992.

Davis, Thomas Osborne (1910). ‘The surprise of Cremona’. In: Thomas Davis: Selections from his prose and poetry‍. Ed. by T. W. Rolleston. Dublin and London: The Talbot Press, pp. 320–322.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {Thomas Osborne Davis},
  title 	 = {The surprise of Cremona},
  editor 	 = {T. W. Rolleston},
  booktitle 	 = {Thomas Davis: Selections from his prose and poetry},
  publisher 	 = {The Talbot Press},
  address 	 = {Dublin and London},
  date 	 = {1910},
  pages 	 = {320–322}


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Creation: by Thomas Davis

Date: 1840s

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  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: literary; poetry; 19c

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2011-08-09: File proofed (2), file parsed; header completed; SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2011-08-09: File proofed (1), structural and content markup applied; header created. (ed. Sara Sponholz)
  3. 1996: Text captured by scanning. (ed. Audrey Murphy)

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