Selected Extracts from the "Naval Sketch Book" Vol I

Recreations in Rhyme

The Lieutenant's Lament

" War! war! no peace.-Peace is to me a war!"

King John.

As sure as a gun,
We shall all be undone,
If longer continue the peace;
A top we shan't know From a futtock below,
Nor a block from a bucket of grease.

'Tis vain to apply,
Or in any way try,
For a berth or a ‘barkey’ in peace ;
If young, we are told
We must yield to the old,
'Till our prospects and cradles increase.

Then, are we in years ?
Our 'age interferes'
With juniors appointed as first' :
‘Tho’ still in our prime,
As if 'twere a crime
‘Long-standing’ is treated the worst.

Too green we're to-day,
To-morrow too grey,
Too long or too short on the list ;
Excuse will be found,
To keep us ‘a-ground,’
And keep us from grinding our grist.

Altho' we indite,
From morning to night,
Memorials for berths by the score ;
Each answer's the same,
That is – ‘noted the name,’
Tho' noted for nought but a ‘bore.

Should plans we invent,
Be officially sent,
To the Board of ‘Affectionate friends','
The friends in affection
Reward with ‘rejection,’
And make us no other amends.

Each quarter we make
Affidavit, and take
Our oaths that we're out of employ;
That we leave in the lurch,
Ourselves and the Church,
Nor life, nor a ‘living’ enjoy 2.

To attest such a truth
Were folly forsooth,
'Twere better to swear to the fact
That - we can't live ashore,
That the duns, at the door
Will make us ‘bear-up’ for the ‘act.’

1 When this Board had, as it often happened, to announce officially to an officer, that an ‘impress had been put against his pay,’ the members of it very charitably subscribed themselves his – ‘affectionate friends.'

2 The form of the half-pay naval affidavit runs thus : I _____ do swear that I am not in holy orders, and that I had not, between the day of ______and the day of _____, any place or employment of profit whatsoever under His Majesty, nor in any department of His Majesty's service, nor in the colonies, or possessions of His Majesty beyond the seas, nor under any other government.

Sworn before me this day at _______

N.B.-The same form serves for the half-paid Admiral, or quarter stipended lieutenant.

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