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3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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Some has got two commands by land and sea,
While one might safely swear, might one be free,
They're neither flesh nor fish, nor good red herring,
Those are your coll'nels, captains with a murrain.
Boldly to those two elements y'aspire,
But at an awful distance then you fire.
A few there are, and they are very few,
To whom a fairer character is due.
Time was when captains went on there own errands,
And in their pockets carried their press warrants;
Now you imploy the villains of the fleet,
While you date from the Downs in Bedford Street.
But times are alter'd ; 'tis not now as then,
For now you press the money, spare the men.
Those plain, dull fellows no such secrets found
To make press warrants worth a hundred pound. •
It is our fate, our frailty, or disease,
To trust our honour in such hands as these:
Raw in their trade, their principles not right,
With hearts too tender, and with heads too light,
Too weak for council, and too nice to fight.
Their bodies are not made of battering-stuff,
Their cracknel carcasses not splinter-proof;
And yet will fairly tell a sailor's tale,
But must attempt it in a coat of mail.
Some swaggering bully snaps me short, and swears,
' Damn me, these fellows wOu'd be kick'd downstairs !'
Sir, by your leave, do you but fight at sea,
And then kick down the Monument for me.-
The Parliament may plague us with taxation,
But till they cure the grievance of the nation,
Monsieur will make the narrow seas his station.
Then what becomes of all our ancient rule,
Our right from Edgar, and command from Thule ?
Believe me, sirs, it will be then confest,
Your flag a dishclout, and your claim a jest.
The hardy duke we mention'd, whose great name
Stretch'd the blown cheeks of trumpet-sounding fame,
Once boldly try'd what English men could do ;
But such examples who dare now pursue ?
A four daies' fight he gloriously maintain'd,
And what he lost in blood in honour gain'd;
To keep that spotless he the ocean stain'd.
Each day he tack'd, and fought from sun to sun,
Against the odds at least of two for one;
Had ye been there, sirs, what wou'd ye have done?