thy highs

“OME have won a wild delight,
By daring wilder sorrow;
Could I gain thy love to-night,
I’d hazard death to-morrow.
Could the battle-struggle earn
One kind glance from thine eye,
How this withering heart would burn,
The heady fight to try!
Welcome nights of broken sleep,
And days of carnage cold,
Could I deem that thou wouldst weep
To hear my perils told.
Tell me, if with wandering bands
I roam full far away,
Wilt thou to those distant lands
In spirit ever stray?
Wild, long, a trumpet sounds afar;
Bid me–bid me go
Where Seik and Briton meet in war,
On Indian Sutlej’s flow.
Blood has dyed the Sutlej’s waves
With scarlet stain, I know;
Indus’ borders yawn with graves,
Yet, command me go!
Though rank and high the holocaust
Of nations steams to heaven,
Glad I’d join the death-doomed host,
Were but the mandate given.
Passion’s strength should nerve my arm,
Its ardour stir my life,
Till human force to that dread charm
Should yield and sink in wild alarm,
Like trees to tempest-strife.
If, hot from war, I seek thy love,
Darest thou turn aside?
Darest thou then my fire reprove,
By scorn, and maddening pride?
No–my will shall yet control
Thy will, so high and free,
And love shall tame that haughty soul–
Yes–tenderest love for me.
I’ll read my triumph in thine eyes,
Behold, and prove the change;
Then leave, perchance, my noble prize,
Once more in arms to range.
I’d die when all the foam is up,
The bright wine sparkling high;
Nor wait till in the exhausted cup
Life’s dull dregs only lie.
Then Love thus crowned with sweet reward,
Hope blest with fulness large,
I’d mount the saddle, draw the sword,
And perish in the charge!”

-Charlotte Bronte
(Passion)

The Litany of Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim

Lord, have mercy. R. Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy. R. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. R. Lord, have mercy.
Christ hear us. R. Christ, hear us.
Christ graciously hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, R. Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, R. Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit R. Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, R. Have mercy on us.

Jesus, Priest and Victim, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, etc.
Jesus, Priest Whom God sent to evangelise the poor,
Jesus, Priest Who at the Last Supper instituted the everlasting Sacrifice,
Jesus, Priest always living to intercede for us,
Jesus, High Priest anointed by the Father with the Holy Spirit and with power,
Jesus, High Priest taken from among men,
Jesus, High Priest appointed on behalf of men,
Jesus, High Priest of our confession of faith,
Jesus, High Priest of a greater glory than Moses,
Jesus, High Priest of the true Tabernacle,
Jesus, High Priest of the good things to come,
Jesus, High Priest, holy, innocent and undefiled,
Jesus, High Priest, faithful and merciful,
Jesus, High Priest of God and on fire with zeal for souls,
Jesus, High Priest, perfect forever,
Jesus, High Priest, Who passed through the Heavens with Thy own Blood,
Jesus, High Priest, Who gave eternal life for us,
Jesus, High Priest, Who loved us and washed us from our sins in Thy Blood,
Jesus, High Priest, Thou hast offered Thyself as an oblation and victim to God,
Jesus, Victim of God and of men,
Jesus, Victim, holy and immaculate,
Jesus, appeasing Victim,
Jesus, peace-making Victim,
Jesus, Victim of propitiation and of praise, .
Jesus, Victim of reconciliation and of peace,
Jesus, Victim in Whom we have confidence and access to God, .
Jesus, Victim living forever and ever,

Be merciful! R. Spare us, O Jesus.
Be merciful! R. Graciously hear us, O Jesus.

By Thine eternal priesthood, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy holy anointing,Thou wert constituted Priest by God the Father, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
By Thy priestly spirit, etc.
By Thy ministry, Thou hast glorified Thy Father upon earth,
By Thy bloody immolation of Thineself made once upon the Cross,
By Thy same Sacrifice renewed daily upon the altar,
By Thy Divine power, which Thou dost invisibly exercises in Thy priests,

Graciously preserve the entire priestly order in holiness of life, R. We beseech you, hear us.
Graciously provide for Thy people pastors after Thine own heart, etc.
Graciously fill them with the spirit of Thy priesthood,
Graciously grant that the lips of priests may hold knowledge,
Graciously send faithful laborers into Thy harvest,
Graciously multiply faithful stewards of Thy mysteries,
Graciously grant them persevering service in accordance with Thy will,
Graciously grant them meekness in the ministry, skill in action and constancy, in prayer,
Graciously promote through them everywhere the worship of the Blessed Sacrament
Graciously receive into Thy joy those who have served Thee well,

Lamb of God, Thou takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Thou takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Thou takest away the sins of the world,
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Jesus our Priest, R. Hear us.
Jesus our Priest, R. Graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O God, sanctifier and guardian of Thy Church, raise up in her by Thy Spirit worthy
and faithful stewards of the sacred mysteries, that by their ministry and example,
the Christian people may be directed along the way of salvation under Thy protection.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

Our Father

miniredpanda submitted:

i’m not good at my description ,but if you live in the same region like me ,you’ll know the place

my friend’s friend went to a midnight theater in my hometown. This theater is located in one of the biggest mall in the area ,so it’s that kind of glossy place where we can find many foreigners and expensive restaurants

There is no further description about this kid ,all i know is she took midnight tickets because the movie was a premiere with her boyfriend

note that this mall closes at 10.00 pm or so , and since our countrymen are not (usually)nocturnal beings ,the midnight theater is never full ,it gets pretty creepy when they took the lights out inside that mall 

1 hour past (or so ?),when the movie was still running ,she decided to go to the bathroom because she couldn’t hold her pee for any longer 

everything actually went normal when she entered the toilet ,the place is nice and glossy like the rest of the mall ,but the toilet has that black tiles and ceilings. and she can actually see her reflection from any direction because the walls are literally a huge mirror ,from the height of the ceiling to her feet ,from side to sides, there are mirrors everywhere

she was alone around midnight when this happens
aside from strange mirror walls, like any other toilets ,this one has separate chambers aligned in a row with thin walls next to each other.

As she relieved herself inside one of those ,she began to sense a presence beside her chamber which apparently appears to be empty 

this ‘presence’ creeps her out and as she panic ,her reaction was to pray ‘our father who art in heaven ,hallowed be Thy name’ by whispering . It’s supposed to get away while she did that but it wasn’t going anywhere. She was beyond scared so she decided to make the prayers more audible by only repeating that ‘our father ’ chant  

after a few times she chanted ,that presence didn’t even budge
instead ‘it’ began to follow her chant “ Our Father who art in heaven ! hallowed be Thy name !” in high pitched voice 

‘it’ wasn’t human 

at this point she was really scared ,she decided to leave immediately ,and so she opened the door only to be greeted with ‘it’, it was grinning in front of her face ,then laughed in an inhumane voice

she passed out until her boyfriend found her

Fuck Yeah Nightmares Mod James: 8/10 Okay that is very unsettling.  Thanks for sharing the scares!

Stanzas Written On The Road Between Florence And Pisa
by Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Read by Dan Stevens

Oh, talk not to me of a name great in story;
The days of our youth are the days of our glory;
And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty
Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?
‘Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled.
Then away with all such from the head that is hoary!
What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

Oh Fame! – if I e'er took delight in thy praises,
‘Twas less for the sake of thy high sounding phrases,
Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover,
She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;
When it sparkled o'er aught that was bright in my story,
I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain, Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord: Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun, Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee, While we own the mystery.

Thou art King of glory,
Christ: Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
And to death a tributary:
First to break the bars of death, Thou has opened Heaven to faith.

From Thy high celestial home,
Judge of all, again returning,
We believe that Thou shalt come
In the dreaded doomsday morning;
When Thy voice shall shake the earth, And the startled dead come forth.

Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee; Never, Lord, abandon me.

anonymous asked:

When you pray to a god or goddess do you just think it or say it out loud or what? I guess I'm asking how you pray, in general?

I am going to try to answer your question, sweet Anon, but I need to talk about the difference between prayers and hymns first. Probably the best definition of ‘prayer’ I have ever happened upon was by William D. Fuley, who says: “prayers (and hymns) are attempts by men and women to communicate with gods by means of the voice”. It is simple, elegant, and accurate. Especially in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was important to raise one’s voice when hymns were sung, and especially so when prayers were made.

I am going to generalize here and say that a hymn was sung to the Theoi, with the aim to please the God in question. They have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning contains two things: a note that the hymn is about to begin, and an announcement of whom the speaker/singer is addressing. In the Orphic hymn to Pan, this is beautifully done:

“I Call strong Pan, the substance of the whole, etherial, marine, earthly, general soul, Immortal fire; for all the world is thine, and all are parts of thee, O pow’r divine. Come, blessed Pan, whom rural haunts delight, come, leaping, agile, wand’ring, starry light;”

The middle part tends to focus on why the God or Goddess in question is not only the best in solving the problem that will be posed to Them later on in prayer, but why they are the best, period. The middle section contains all the wonderful things the deity in question has done, His or Her greatest accomplishments, and above all, it contains a description of the deity. For Pan:

“The Hours and Seasons [Horai], wait thy high command, and round thy throne in graceful order stand. Goat-footed, horned, Bacchanalian Pan, fanatic pow’r, from whom the world began, Whose various parts by thee inspir’d, combine in endless dance and melody divine. In thee a refuge from our fears we find, those fears peculiar to the human kind. Thee shepherds, streams of water, goats rejoice, thou lov’st the chace, and Echo’s secret voice: The sportive nymphs, thy ev’ry step attend, and all thy works fulfill their destin’d end.O all-producing pow’r, much-fam’d, divine, the world’s great ruler, rich increase is thine. All-fertile Pæan, heav’nly splendor pure, in fruits rejoicing, and in caves obscure. True serpent-horned Jove [Zeus], whose dreadful rage when rous’d, ‘tis hard for mortals to asswage. By thee the earth wide-bosom’d deep and long, stands on a basis permanent and strong. Th’ unwearied waters of the rolling sea, profoundly spreading, yield to thy decree. Old Ocean too reveres thy high command, whose liquid arms begirt the solid land.The spacious air, whose nutrimental fire, and vivid blasts, the heat of life inspire the lighter frame of fire, whose sparkling eye shines on the summit of the azure sky, Submit alike to thee, whole general sway all parts of matter, various form’d obey. All nature’s change thro’ thy protecting care, and all mankind thy lib’ral bounties share: For these where’er dispers’d thro’ boundless space, still find thy providence support their race.”

The end is a prayer onto itself. The surviving hymns often conclude with a call to the deity in question to listen to the request that follows, and to grant it, should They be so inclined. The hymn to Pan concludes:

"Come, Bacchanalian, blessed power draw near, fanatic Pan, thy humble suppliant hear, Propitious to these holy rites attend, and grant my life may meet a prosp’rous end; Drive panic Fury too, wherever found, from human kind, to earth’s remotest bound.”

Hymns were sung to please, to bring forth. It was a way to celebrate the Deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the following request. Hymns were accompanied with music and dancing; they were true celebrations in that regard. They were performed to establish existing kharis and built upon it: when the Orphic Hymns ask for ‘a hymn’ instead of incense, they request a show that entertains the Gods.

A prayer was carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea was not to please, but to request. They made use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all.

Hellenic prayer and hymn-singing is not a private thing; unlike the Christian type of praying we are used to today—a praying that is intimate, calm, and very much private—the Hellenic form of praying did and does everything it can to draw attention to itself as a public display. It is a form of heightened expression which claims the attention of a God. Hymns are a means to get a divine spotlight upon you, because without it, your prayer will fall upon deaf ears. This is why hymns and prayers always go together in the typical structure of (ancient) Hellenic ritual: one is useless without the other.

Ancient Hellenic prayers were made standing up, with arms raised. If you were the one pouring libations, the arms needn’t be raised as high, but the libation-bowl was poised. For the Ouranic deities, the palms faced upwards, to the sky. For the Khthonic deities, the palms faced downwards, to the earth. To both, the voice is raised, so as to draw as much attention as possible. In general, that is how you pray in Hellenismos.

Ode to a Nightingale
John Keats read by Timothy Dalton
Ode to a Nightingale

“Oh, darkling, I listen.” Listen to Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) grapple with the draw of the darkness in his reading from John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale”. Will you be seduced by the darkness, too?

“Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Ode to a Nightingale
Benedict Cumberbatch

By John Keats 

——

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains          My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains          One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,          But being too happy in thine happiness,—                 That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees                         In some melodious plot          Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,                 Singest of summer in full-throated ease. O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been          Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green,          Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker full of the warm South,          Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,                 With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,                         And purple-stained mouth;          That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,                 And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget          What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret          Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,          Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;                 Where but to think is to be full of sorrow                         And leaden-eyed despairs,          Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,                 Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. Away! away! for I will fly to thee,          Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy,          Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night,          And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,                 Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;                         But here there is no light,          Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown                 Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,          Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet          Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;          White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;                 Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;                         And mid-May’s eldest child,          The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,                 The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. Darkling I listen; and, for many a time          I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,          To take into the air my quiet breath;                 Now more than ever seems it rich to die,          To cease upon the midnight with no pain,                 While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad                         In such an ecstasy!          Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—                    To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!          No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard          In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path          Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,                 She stood in tears amid the alien corn;                         The same that oft-times hath          Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam                 Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. Forlorn! the very word is like a bell          To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well          As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades          Past the near meadows, over the still stream,                 Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep                         In the next valley-glades:          Was it a vision, or a waking dream?                 Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

——

…I’m shaking all over. 

8

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
 I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
 To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
 To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
   While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
         In such an ecstasy!
 Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
   To thy high requiem become a sod.

John Keats

Ode To A Nightingale - J. Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 
    But being too happy in thine happiness, - 
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, 
                In some melodious plot 
    Of beechen green and shadows numberless, 
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been 
    Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, 
Tasting of Flora and the country green, 
    Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! 
O for a beaker full of the warm South, 
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, 
        With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, 
                And purple-stained mouth; 
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 
        And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget 
    What thou among the leaves hast never known, 
The weariness, the fever, and the fret 
    Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; 
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, 
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; 
        Where but to think is to be full of sorrow 
                And leaden-eyed despairs, 
    Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, 
        Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 
    Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, 
But on the viewless wings of Poesy, 
    Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: 
Already with thee! tender is the night, 
    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, 
        Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays; 
                But here there is no light, 
    Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown 
        Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, 
    Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, 
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet 
    Wherewith the seasonable month endows 
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 
    White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; 
        Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; 
                And mid-May’s eldest child, 
    The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, 
        The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time 
    I have been half in love with easeful Death, 
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, 
    To take into the air my quiet breath; 
Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 
                In such an ecstasy! 
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain - 
        To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! 
    No hungry generations tread thee down; 
The voice I hear this passing night was heard 
    In ancient days by emperor and clown: 
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn; 
                The same that oft-times hath 
    Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam 
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell 
    To toll me back from thee to my sole self! 
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 
    As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf. 
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 
    Past the near meadows, over the still stream, 
        Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep 
                In the next valley-glades: 
    Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 
        Fled is that music: - Do I wake or sleep?

How Britain Won the War of 1812: The Royal Navy's Blockades of the United States, 1812-1815

The title is a bold one, and it’s not mine. It belongs to a book published in 2011, written by one Brian Arthur, which offers the most comprehensive look at the economic impact of the War of 1812 to date. In doing so, it dispels one of that little-known and ill-understood war’s most lingering myths.

The story goes that a gallant US navy, involved in its first ever full-scale maritime conflict, punched well above its weight, embarrassed the far larger, more experienced and better-funded Royal Navy with a string of plucky victories, and savaged British trade on the high seas. The conflict proved that the US Navy had what it took to beat a world power, and provided an example of the fighting quality of American seamen.

Unfortunately, one broadside of hard facts leaves such a pride-inducing narrative holed below the waterline.

For starters, while it’s undoubtedly true that the entirety of Britain’s Royal Navy was far larger than that of the United States in 1812, the idea that Britain could bring its full weight down upon the USA in isolation is ludicrous. Regardless of what US-centric narratives of the war may say, the conflict of 1812 was never more than a sideshow to the British, eclipsed as it was by the momentousness of the latter part of the Napoleonic Wars. The Royal Navy in 1812 was required not only to continue to suppress France and her allies, but also to maintain the defence of far-flung British colonies across the globe, as well as protect vital supply links with the other nations fighting Napoleon. As the US Naval Institute states;

Captain William Hoste, a protege of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson’s and a master of frigate operations, held the Adriatic in awe in 1812-14. Napoleon had rebuilt his fleet after its heavy defeat at Trafalgar in 1805, and the British had to devote much effort to blockading French ports and supporting land operations in Europe, especially in Iberia. There was great concern about the Toulon-based French fleet. The Royal Navy was stretched in the Mediterranean, and there was particular anxiety about enemy sorties from Toulon in 1811 and 1812. British naval resources were also strained elsewhere. (Jeremy Black)

Because of all this, Britain had 85 ships in American waters at the start of the war. Even this is an unrepresentative figure however, since a number of these squadrons were on station in the Caribbean, and presented little direct threat to the US Navy.  In reality the Royal Navy’s North America and West Indies Station consisted of one small ship of the line, seven frigates and fourteen smaller sloops or schooners. The US Navy, meanwhile, had eight frigates and fourteen sloops.

Sender as it was, a numerical advantage in terms of ships was the only thing going for the supposedly mighty Royal Navy in 1812. The Americans had two major advantages. The first was that in the years before the war the United States had embarked on a shipbuilding project which resulted in the commissioning of three heavy frigates. These ships mounted 56 to 60 24-pound cannons, while the British equivalents possessed only 38 to 50 18-pounders. The US ships were also of the latest design, their heavy timber flanks more resistant to the lighter British roundshot. The second American advantage lay in the fact that, while they had more ships, the Royal Navy was severely short on manpower. Indeed, the Royal Navy’s illegal seizing of American sailors to crew undermanned British ships was part of the reason for America’s declaration of war in the first place. Britain’s Mediterranean and Channel fleets received the lion’s share of sailors for the war with France while those ships stationed in American waters were typically under-crewed. What crew there was were also typically inexperienced and below-average regarding the “requirements of the service.”

The eve of war therefore sees Britain’s navy with the most ships, but with the Americans possessing better-armed, better-built and better-crewed vessels. It should be little surprise, therefore, that the American Navy appeared to come off well during the war’s opening broadsides. Indeed, most of the initial US victories in the naval war were won by the three new heavy frigates, which overpowered their smaller British rivals. Far from a British Goliath tumbling before the little American David, the British Admiralty issued orders that British ships were not to engage the larger American frigates unless they possessed a clear numerical advantage over them. The previous battle experience and numerical advantage of US crews had also given their brigs and sloops an edge over the overstretched Royal Navy.

From the start of the war, the Royal Navy’s strategy was that of blockading. Obviously there was to be no large-scale invasion of the US with the objective of conquest or major annexation. The Americans had started the war, and the British government wished to bring an end to it via terms which gave no concessions on their part, whether regarding territorial claims in Canada or the right to impressment. With the termination of the war in mind, the Royal Navy set out from the start to strangle the US economy and force it to end the war by blocking up its ports and fisheries. This thy did with a high degree of success. The individual ship-on-ship victories won early in the war by the US Navy had no tangible effect beyond raising American morale and convincing the British government to deploy slightly larger and less aged ships and crews to the American theatre. As the Speaker of the US House of Representatives admitted, “brilliant as they are… they [our naval victories] do not fill up the void created by our misfortunes on land.” By May 31st 1814 the entirety of the eastern seaboard was subjected to a British blockade.

Both sides also engaged in privateering and attacks on merchant vessels. The Royal Navy initially struggled to protect its merchant fleets headed to and from Nova Scotia and Halifax, but quickly became adept at dealing with American raiders. Over the course of the war a total of 1,175 British traders were captured, but 373 of these were retaken, usually soon after. The British had therefore suffered a loss of 802 ships by the war’s end, but only 254 were actually seized by the US Navy, the rest being snatched up by American privateers. Conversely, the Royal Navy (with little assistance from privateers) seized 1,407 American ships over the three years of conflict.

The combined impact of the capture of so many American merchant ships, and the fact that so many more were bottled up in port (along with, eventually, the three heavy US frigates, which could no longer single out lone British prey now that Royal Navy ships had learned to hunt in packs) ultimately crushed the USA’s capacity to carry on the war. The US Navy was only able to capture around 7.5% of Britain’s merchant fleet throughout the war, a blow light enough to mean it didn’t impede the flow of supplies to and from British North America or result in a rise in insurance losses. Conversely, US exports plummeted from $130 million in 1807 to just $7 million in 1814. Even worse for the US, a portion of this $7 million was actually garnered by New England grain merchants who sold their stock to the British to feed the redcoats fighting in the Peninsula War. Throughout the war New Englanders frequently proved willing to do business with the British in defiance of their own Congress, and even contemplated secession.

By the close of 1813 the Royal Navy had also redressed the balance in terms of individual ship strength, and wiped away some of the stains of previous defeat:

In the frigate Essex , Captain David Porter had successfully attacked British commerce in the South Atlantic and the South Pacific, capturing 12 whalers and their valuable cargo off the Galapagos Islands in 1813. This was part of a major extension in American trade warfare, but two British warships forced Porter to surrender off Valparaiso, Chile, on 28 March 1814 after they cannonaded his disabled ship from a distance. Six months later, the British suffered far more casualties than the Americans when they attacked the privateer General Armstrong in the Azores’ Faial Harbor, but the Americans eventually scuttled and burned the ship.

In addition, the British were often successful in conflicts between individual ships. On 1 June 1813, HMS Shannon beat the Chesapeake off Boston in a bloody clash fought at close range in which a lack of preparedness on the part of the American commander was a key factor. On 14 August 1813, the USS Argus was captured off Wales by the similarly gunned Pelicanafter the British gunners proved superior. The next year, the British frigate Le Rhin captured the largest privateer to sail from Charleston, the Decatur , which had boarded and seized the British sloop Dominica in August 1813. (William Dudley)

As an extension of the blockading strategy, the British also undertook numerous effective amphibious operations. The impotence of the US Navy was highlighted by the British ability to land substantial troops almost anywhere they pleased, which could then strike inland at will. The most famous instance of these raids was, of course, the burning of Washington DC on August 24th 1814. There were many more however, and they would continue unabated until peace brought an end to operations. Indeed, it seemed as though the Treaty of Ghent arrived just in time for the citizens of New York, for a British force under Admiral Sir George Cockburn was poised to attack it just before peace was declared. Despite the well-demonstrated British capacity for combined services operations, amphibious raids, even large ones like the attack on Washington, were always secondary in strategic considerations when it came to the blockade. The First Lord of the Admiralty wrote that landings “must be given up” if such missions interfered or detracted from the blockade.

Ultimately the blockade ensured that “the parlous American economy was thrown into chaos with prices soaring and unexpected shortages causing hardship.” (Donald Hickey) In the past decade a number of revisionist historians have put the naval and maritime activities during the War of 1812 into their full perspective, namely that;

British economic warfare had deprived the US government of the means of continuing the war into 1815. Dramatically lower customs receipts, a major source of government income, created budget deficits which forced the government to depend increasingly on public credit. The curtailing of American coastal trade meant that goods had to proceed to and from markets by land, taking more time and at greater expense. In Arthur’s view, the result of all this was unemployment and currency inflation which created popular hardships and discontent with the war. The US Navy’s few unblockaded frigates were unable to lift the British blockade and to prevent British amphibious landings. The number of American merchant ship owners willing to risk voyages declined sharply meaning there were far fewer vessels engaged in foreign trade. (William Dudley)

This view only has one serious modern challenger, Wade G. Dudley, whose work attempts to prove that far from being economically strangled, the USA ‘was quite self-sufficient – no one starved, and the implements of war continued to be produced – its government had little money, thanks to the tremendous expenses associate with warfare, Madison’s embargo, and the blockade.’ Brian Arthur’s latest addition to the subject, however, puts down Dudley’s challenge early on - 'Dudley’s conclusion that the British blockades [commercial and naval] of the United States were comparatively unsuccessful neither appraises their consequences nor bears close examination.’ Arthur continues: 

The successful British naval blockade, by incarcerating much of the United States Navy, protected Britain’s commercial blockade and facilitated the capture of Washington. The fiscal and financial consequences of the resultant run on American banks far exceeded the value of property destroyed. The Royal Navy’s damage to the American economy, although sometimes indirect, was decisive. Britain achieved its most important war aim in retaining its ‘right’ to stop and search neutral vessels in wartime and to impose maritime blockades on continental enemies, as in 1914 and 1939. 

If anything the fate of the American “super frigates” at the war’s end is instructive. Of the three, one was captured by the British and another had been reduced to a disarmed, crewless hulk by 1814. One frigate taken, one stripped, and the third still victorious - it sums up the balanced nature of the War of 1812, the war that nobody won. 

Sources.

Arthur, Brian, How Britain won the War of 1812: The Royal Navy’s Blockades of the United States, 1812-1815 (London, 2011).

Black, Jeremy, A British View of the Naval War of 1812 (2008).

Hickey, Donald, The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (Chicago, IL, 1989).

Dudley, Wade G., Splintering the Wooden Wall: The British Blockade of the United States, 1812–1815 (Annapolis, MD, 2003).

Dudley, William, review of How Britain won the War of 1812: The Royal Navy’s Blockades of the United States, 1812-1815, (review no. 1215).