Brave Hearts of ocean chivalry,Who late, in arms, have stood,Victorious, o’er the bravest foe,Whose thunder wakes the flood!
busily helped to repair the damage wrought by British shot. They were not completely forgotten, however. Two months after the ship’s return the managers of Boston’s Federal Street Theatre invited Constitution’s crew to an evening of entertainment at their
|The second Federal Street Theatre, from Caleb Snow’s 1825 History of Boston. The edifice lasted until 1853.|
Well do we remember being at the Federal Street Theatre, when the news of this victory [over Java] was announced from the stage by the manager, Mr. Powell; and shortly after, when the gallant Commodore, together with some of his officers appeared in one of the boxes, the whole house resounded for many minutes with the cheering of the audience. The veteran Cooper, then in the prime of life, was in the second act of Macbeth, and although he stood a little behind the scenes, entirely forgetting the gracious Duncan he had murdered, we saw him swing his cap round with as much enthusiasm as any one.
The Managers respectfully announce to the Public, that by permission of Commodore Bainbridge, The Crew of the U.S. Frigate Constitution will attend the Theatre this Evening; on which occasion the whole of the Pit will be appropriated to their accommodation, and no ticket will be sold for that part of the house. The Managers presume no apology is necessary to the usual frequenters of the Pit, as they feel confident that they will cheerfully relinquish their seats to the BRAVE TARS who have fought, bled and conquered for them.
‘In the action with the Java you shewed yourselves men. You are this evening invited to partake of the amusements of the Theatre, conduct yourselves well. Suffer me not to experience any mortification from any disorderly conduct on your part. Let the correctness of your conduct equal your bravery, and I shall have additional cause to speak of you in terms of approbation.’ The honest tars replied, -‘Commodore, we will put out of the pit the first man that misbehaves.’
Their decent mirth and jollity transferred itself to the boxes, and the evening passed off with great éclat. When Commodores Rodgers & Bainbridge, and Capt. Smith, with their Lieutenants, entered the box which had been fitted up for them, the whole Crew rose, and gave three loud and hearty cheers. The patriotic sentiments interspersed in the songs of the performers, and the transparent paintings, exhibiting the five glorious naval victories, were received by the gallant tars with repeated bursts of applause. At the name of their brave commander, they sent up a shout that literally ‘tore the concave.’ We venture to believe, that the whole universe never exhibited a finer crew. About 11 o’clock at night they left the play house and returned peaceably to their ship. Among the ‘thousand ships’ of England, there probably is not a single crew, three fourths of whom would not have deserted, had they been allowed an opportunity like this.
This was to be a final frolic before 150 of them made the long overland trek to join the American squadrons on Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. But that’s a story for next week.
Theatre, Boston,” Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 6 (1970), 185-208.
and Beardsly, 1857), 148-150.