The first Victory, of Queen Elizabeth's time, was orginally named the Christopher. Nelson's Flagship is the eleventh of the name.
WHEN Christopher mighty and pagan, an ogre to cross in his wrath,
Paraded the strength of a giant the prudent avoided his path,
Lest haply his spirit possess them and drive them in wonder and awe
To worship an image of power unfettered by pity or law.
When Christopher forded the river and told of a Child who had laid
The weight of the world on his shoulders, the world He created and made,
Amazed at a prowess transfigured and stilled by the peace on his face
Men tarried ere mocking his vision to marvel at Christopher's grace.
Thereafter he toiled through the river and many a wayfarer blessed
A might set apart for the service of such as were weak and oppressed,
So when the Last River was conquered, his labour of love at an end,
The ferrymen fashioned his halo, Saint Christopher, patron and friend.
Then ferries grew sea-girt and wider, with Edward the Third on the throne
Thrice armed as a Ship of the Tower a Christopher came to her own,
But lest the parade of her cannon should foster a truculent mood
Where all might behold and remember—an image of Christopher stood!
To which, 'neath the spell of his mantle, and this is the sign of their trade,
In token of sanctified service obeisance the mariners made,
Till never a ship but was hallowed and christened before she was freed,
A priest of the Church bearing witness, to stablish St. Christopher's creed.
Possessed of the secret of greatness the last of the Christophers came
To wait on the last of the Tudors who, gravely confirming the same,
Set seal on the mariners' homage in yes a more excellent way
Whereby, at the Christopher's anchor, re-named, the first Victory lay.
Whose strength begat strength in her offspring, but ever the newest design
As surely augmented their beauty, the mark of a Ship of the Line.
While each in affliction or triumph lived up to the name that she bore:
The conquest of Power by Service, the mantle that Christopher wore.
And so, off the Cape of Trafalgar, serene in her perilous place,
The weight of the world on her shoulders, men noted the Victory's grace.
The last of her line but immortal, she witnesses even to-day:
"Who covets St. Christopher's beauty must live in St. Christopher's way."