|Selected Extracts from the "Naval Sketch Book" Vol I|
A Galley Stave
HURRAH! heave a-head - tumble up - tumble aft,
The Skipper 's intent on a fray -
He's long had his eye on the enemy's craft,
The brig in the bight o' the bay.
The ship's all alive - the ship's company crush
And crowd round the capsten on deck,
And all volunteer, in a regular rush,
To join in the spree and the spec.
"The craft," says the Skipper, "is worth cuttin'-out,
And so," says the Skipper, says he,
"Be sober, be silent, be steady and stout,
Attend ev'ry man unto me.
"Each man will 'ave sarv'd out a station in turn,
Confusion in fight to prevent,
So board on the quarter, the bow, or the stern,
You know on what bus'ness you're bent.
"There's Turner can handle a hatchet in style,
The cable he'll cut with a clip;
But chain should it be, a sledge-hammer and file
Will help to unshackle and slip.
"The jib, too, there's Jackson can loose in a crack,
And Warren can run to the wheel;
But mind! though your slaughter be seemin' to slack,
Slack nothin' in duty or zeal.
"To guard again' fellin' a friend for a foe,
You'll all wear the similar mark;
For many's the quick and unmerited blow
Has levell'd a lad in the dark.
"So round the right arm clap a piece o' white duck,
Your cutlasses carefully grind,
Secure in your belts see your pistols be stuck,
No boat leaves a grapnel behind.
"And now," says the Skipper, " I've never no more
To say,- but to say you'll succeed;
So down ev'ry man, now, and muffle his oar,
And ready get all that you need."
The boats are now mannin' - the moon's goin' down,
And messmates are shakin' a fist,
The pass-word is Nelson - that name o' renown,
That bows every name on the list.
Toss'd up are the oars, and success is the word,
And eager are all for the start ;
"Shove-off," says the Skipper, "and bring-out your bird -
Be careful - don't company part."
Like pirates we pull, but with consciences clear,
For e'en should we fail or we fall,
There's never disgrace,-nor we've nothin' to fear,
But death from a pike or a ball.
Land-breezes spring up from the southernmost side,
The boats are fast closin' the port,
The foe is diskiver'd to tend to the tide,
The sentry heard hailin' the fort.
Then strike-out, my lads, in the cutter and barge,
The pinnace, see, boards on the bow;
The launch lags astern, she's heavy an' large,
But soon she'll be up for the row.
There !-slap goes the cable-and up goes the jib,
And off she pays round on her heel ;
Our officer's hit,-" Only stuck in the rib,"
He cries, as he slashes his steel.
She's all our own - for'ard, - let's sally abaft,
The quarter-deck yet we've to gain;
What say ye, my sons ? – with a will fore an' aft,
And show we don't rally in vain.
The cutlasses clash, and the blades on 'em fly,
And pistols flash full in the face,
But nothin' can stand us, so never say die!
Hurrah! an' we're gamin' apace.
They take to their fins, an' they take to their feet,
The enemy scamper around;
The taupsails quick loose - and quick home with 'em sheet,
'Twon't do for to get her aground.
The batteries bang - how they scatter the grape,
The forts appear fairly afire ;
Should the sticks only stand,-and the stays but escape,
And bang they may blaze till they tire.
So port a-bit, bo, - keep the lights in a line,
Keep right in the strength o' the tide ;
We've plenty o' water - she deepens to nine
The shoal's on the opposite side.
And now, my sea-sons, for three thundering cheers,
For short fall the shot from the fort;
We draw-off the land, and the frigate we hear,
She'll soon tow the prize into port!
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