Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Sailors’ Indifference
THIS life, boys, at best’s but a rough sort of trip,
  And we’ve nothing but honour to lose;
So, ’tis better, d’ye see, ere we give up the ship,
  Like Lawrence to finish life’s cruise.
For I fancy we’ll all meet at Davy’s again,        5
As jovial as e’er we met here.
Then what do we value the scoff on the free,
  That from France and from England’s self starts?
They may count us their hulks till they’re tired, d’ye see,
  And we’ll count them as many true hearts,        10
That can stick to their moorings through life’s foulest squalls,
And still face the world as it goes.
So the ninnies we’ll balk who dare think we’ll descend
  Our rights on the seas to forego:
We have biscuit and grog for a true-hearted friend,        15
  And a merry three cheers for a foe.
For the world and its great ones may change as they please,
But a sailor’s a sailor, boys, still.
Then let the cold heart in its own baseness freeze,
  That thinks we’ll be shy on the waves:        20
Shall we skulk, boys, and hunt out by-ways through the seas,
  Like cowardly rovers or slaves?
Away with such gabble and nonsense, say I,
While we’ve Yankee colours to show.
We don’t know the count of his ships who’s our foe,        25
  And, what is yet more, we don’t care:
For ourselves, to the very heart’s core, lads, we know;
  And so, come foul weather or fair.
I’m for setting top-gallants and booming ahead,
And we’ll turn by for none as we go.        30
Then, huzza for free trade and our rights as they be!
  ’Tis a whim that we like more and more:
And sailors must have out their whims, d’ye see,
  Whether fighting or jigging on shore.
So huzza for free trade, and for colours mast-high,        35
No skulking or quibbling for me.
Whether Bainbridge, or Hull, or Decatur commands,
  Rogers, Biddle, or Jones, ’tis all one:
Huzza! and huzza! and huzza! sing all hands,
  And yard-arm to yard-arm’s the fun!        40
Then, lubbers, stand clear! we have work to do, boys,
For ’tis England’s old cross must come down.
And we’ll rake, till sly death our hearts’ cables shall slip.
  The command that our Lawrence has given:
He was dying—says he, “Boys, don’t give up the ship!”        45
  And the words took his soul off to heaven.
Brave heart! he is gone to his rest—never mind:
We are here to fight under him still.
So, no more of vain talking, or whining, or art;
  We’ve to fight for the rights of the states:        50
And, with Honour our pilot, with Justice our chart,
  Good Humour and Friendship our mates:
They’ll find, if we’ve biscuit and grog for a friend,
We’ve a merry three cheers for a foe.

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