CHARLES DIBDIN'S SEA SONGS.


( Followed by Charles Wolfe's The Burial of Sir John Moore; and poems by Pierre Beranger and J T Trowbridge. )

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GRIEVING'S A FOLLY.


Spanking Jack was so comely, so pleasant, so jolly,

   Though winds blew great guns, still he'd whistle and sing,

For Jack loved his friend, and was true to his Molly,

   And, if honor gives greatness, was great as a king.

One night as we drove with two reefs in the mainsail,

   And the scud came on low'ring upon a lee shore,

Jack went up aloft for to hand the topg'ant sail --,

   A spray washed him off, and we ne' er saw him more:

          But grieving's a folly,

Come let us be jolly;

If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.


Whiffling Tom, still of mischief or fun in the middle,

   Through life in all weathers at random would jog;

He'd dance, and he'd sing, and he'd play on the fiddle,

   And swig with an air his allowance of grog:

'Longside of a Don, in the " Terrible" frigate,

   As yardarm and yardarm we layoff the shore,

In and out whiffling Tom did so caper and jig it,

   That his head was shot off, and we ne'er saw him more:

          But grieving's a folly,

Come let us be jolly;

If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.


Bonny Ben was to each jolly messmate a brother,

     He was manly and honest, good-natured and free;

If ever one tar was more true than another

     To his friend and his duty, that sailor was he:

One day with the davit to weigh the kedge anchor,

     Ben went in the boat on a bold craggy shore

He overboard tipped, when a shark and a spanker

     Soon nipped him in two, and we ne'er saw him more:

           But grieving's a folly,

            Come let us be jolly;

If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.


But what of it all, lads? shall we be downhearted

     Because that mayhap we now take our last sup?

  Life's cable must one day or other be parted,

     And Death in safe moorings will bring us all up.

But 'tis always the way on't -- one scarce finds a brother

   Fond as pitch, honest, hearty, and true to the core,

But by battle, or storm, or some damned thing or other,

   He's popped off the hooks, and we ne'er see him more!

          But grieving's a folly,

          Come let us be jolly;

If we've troubles on sea, boys, we've pleasures on shore.








HONESTY IN TATTERS.


This here's what I does - I, d'ye see, forms a notion

   That our troubles, our sorrows and strife,

Are the winds and the billows that foment the ocean,

   As we work through the passage of life.

And for fear on life's sea lest the vessel should founder,

   To lament and to weep, and to wail,

Is a pop gun that tries to outroar a nine-pounder,

   All the same as a whiff in a gale.

Why now I, though hard fortune has pretty near starved me,

   And my togs are all ragged and queer,

Ne'er yet gave the bag to the friend who had served me,

   Or caused ruined beauty a tear.


Now there t'other day, when my messmate deceived me,

   Stole my rhino, my chest, and our Poll,

Do you think in revenge, while their treachery grieved me,

   I a court-martial called? - Not at all.

This here on the matter was my way of arg'ing

   'Tis true they han't left me a cross;

A vile wife and false friend though are gone by the bargain,

   So the gain d'ye see's more than the loss:

For though fortune's a jilt, and has pretty near starved me,

   And my togs are all ragged and queer,

I ne'er yet gave the bag to the friend who had served me,

   Or caused ruined beauty a tear.


The heart's all-when that's built as it should, sound and clever,

    We go 'fore the wind like a fly,

But if rotten and crank, you may luff up forever,

    You'll always sail in the wind's eye:

With palaver and nonsense I'm not to be paid off,

    I'm adrift, let it blow then great guns,

A gale, a fresh breeze, or the old gemman's head off,

    I takes life rough and smooth as it runs:

            Content, though hard fortune has pretty near starved me

   And my togs are all ragged and queer;

I ne'er yet gave the bag to the friend who had served me,

   Or caused ruined beauty a tear.







NATURE AND NANCY.


Let swabs, with their wows, their palaver, and lies,

           Sly flattery's silk sails still be trimming,

Swear their Polls be all angels dropped down from the skies

           I your angels don't like - I loves women.           .

And I loves a warm heart, and a sweet honest mind,

           Good as truth, and as lively as fancy;

As constant as honor, as tenderness kind;

           In short, I loves Nature and Nancy.


I read in a song about Wenus, I thinks,

           All rigged out with her Cupids and Graces:

And how roses and lilies, carnations and pinks,

           Was made paint to daub over their faces.

They that loves it may take all such art for their pains-

            For mine 'tis another guess fancy;

Give me the rich health, flesh and blood, and blue veins,

           That pays the sweet face of my Nancy.


Why, I went to the play, where they talked well at least,

            As to act all their parts they were trying;

They were playing at soldiers, and playing at feast,

            And some they was playing at dying.

Let 'em hang, drown, or starve, or take poison, d'ye see..

           All just for their gig and their fancy;

What to them was but jest is right earnest to me,

           For I live and I'd die for my Nancy.


Let the girls then, like so many Algerine Turks,

          Dash away, a fine gay painted galley,

With their jacks, and their pennants, and gingerbread works,

         All for show, and just nothing for value

False colors throw out, decked by labor and art,

         To take of pert coxcombs the fancy;

They are all for the person, I'm all for the heart

         In short, I'm for Nature and Nancy.







THE STANDING TOAST.

(The last song written by Mr. Dibdin.)



The moon on the ocean was dimmed by a ripple,

Affording a checkered delight,

The gay jolly tars passed the word for the tipple

   And the toast -- for 'twas Saturday night:

Some sweetheart or wife that he loved as his life,

   Each drank, while he wished he could hail her;

But the standing toast that pleased the most

   Was -- The wind that blows, the ship that goes,

   And the lass that loves a sailor!


Some drank the king and his brave ships,

   And some the constitution,

Some -- May our foes and all such rips

   Own English resolution!

That fate might bless some Poll or Bess,

   And that they soon might hail her:

But the standing toast that pleased the most

   Was -- The wind that blows, the ship that goes,

   And the lass that loves a sailor!


Some drank our queen, and some our land,

   Our glorious land of freedom!

Some that our tars might never stand

   For our heroes brave to lead 'em!

That beauty in distress might find

   Such friends as ne'er would fail her:

But the standing toast that pleased the most

   Was -- The wind that blows, the ship that goes,

   And the lass that loves a sailor!


Charles Dibdin, 1745 - 1814, English songwright and playwright.







THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.


By CHARLES WOLFE.

( 1791 - 1823 )



NOT a drum was heard, not a funeral note,

    As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot

    O'er the grave where our hero we buried.


We buried him darkly at dead of night,

    The sods with our bayonets turning;

By the struggling moonbeam's misty light,

    And the lanthorn dimly burning.


No useless coffin inclosed his breast,

   Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;

But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,

    With his martial cloak around him.


Few and short were the prayers we said,

   And we spoke not a word of sorrow;

But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,

   And we bitterly thought of the morrow.


We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,

   And smoothed down his lonely pillow,

That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,

   And we far away on the billow;


Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,

   And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him,

But little he'll reek, if they let him sleep on

   In the grave where a Briton has laid him.


But half of our heavy task was done,

   When the clock struck the hour for retiring;

And we heard the distant and random gun

   That the foe was sullenly firing.


Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

    From the field of his fame fresh and gory;

We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone --

But we left him alone with his glory.







PIERRE JEAN DE BERANGER.

( 1780 - 1857 )


 FIFTY YEARS.

(CINQUANTE ANS.)

( Translated by Walter Learned. )


Wherefore these flowers? floral applause?

   Ah, no, these blossoms came to say

That I am growing old, because

   I number fifty years to-day.

O rapid, ever-fleeting day!

   O moments lost, I know not how!

O wrinkled cheek and hair grown gray!

   Alas, for I am fifty now!


Sad age, when we pursue no more

   Fruit dies upon the withering tree:

Hark! some one rapped upon my door.

   Nay, open not. 'Tis not for me,

Or else the doctor calls. Not yet

   Must I expect his studious bow.

Once I'd have called, "Come in, Lizzette"

   Alas, for I am fifty now!


In age what aches and pains abound:

   The torturing gout racks us awhile;

Blindness, a prison dark, profound;

   Or deafness that provokes a smile.

Then Reason's lamp grows faint and dim

   With flickering ray. Children, allow

Old Age the honor due to him

     Alas, for I am fifty now!


Ah, heaven! the voice of Death I know,

   Who rubs his hands in joyous mood;

The sexton knocks and I must go, --

   Farewell, my friends the human brood!

Below are famine, plague, and strife;

   Above, new heavens my soul endow:

Since God remains, begin, new life!

   Alas, for I am fifty now!


But no, 'tis you, sweetheart, whose youth,

   Tempting my soul with dainty ways,

Shall hide from it the somber truth,

   This incubus of evil days.

Springtime is yours, and flowers; come then,

   Scatter your roses on my brow,

And let me dream of youth again --

   Alas, for I am fifty now!







        THE OLD TRAMP.

    (LE VIEUX VAGABOND.)

      (Translated by F. M.)



   Here in this gutter let me die;

       Weary and sick and old, I've done.

   "He's drunk," will say the passers-by;

       All right, I want no pity, -none.

   I see the heads that turn away,

       While others glance and toss me sous,

   " Off to your junket! go," I say:

Old tramp - to die I need no help from you.


   Yes, of old age I'm dying now

       Of hunger people never die.

   I hoped some almshouse might allow

       A refuge when the end was nigh;

   But all retreats are overflowed,

       Such crowds are suffering and forlorn.

   My nurse, alas! has been the road:

Old tramp-let me die here where I was born.


When young, it used to be my prayer

   To craftsmen, "Let me learn your trade: "

"Clear out-we've got no work to spare:

   Go beg," was all reply they made.
You rich, who bade me work, I've fed
With relish on the bones you threw;
Made of your straw an easy bed:
Old tramp -- I have no curse to vent on you.

Poor wretch, how easy 'twas to steal!
But no, I'd rather beg my bread.
At most I've thieved a wayside meal
Of apples ripening overhead.
Yet twenty times have I been thrown
In prison, -- 'twas the King's decree;
Robbed of the only thing I own:
Old tramp -- at least the sun belongs to me.

The poor - is any country his?
What are to me your grain, your wine,
Your glory and your industries,
Your orators? They are not mine.
And when a foreign foe waxed fat
Within your undefended walls,
I shed my tears, poor fool, at that:
Old tramp -- his hand was open to my calls.

Why, like the venomous bug you kill,
Did you not crush me when you could?
Or, better yet, have taught me skill
To labor for the common good?
The grub a useful ant may end
If sheltered from the blast and fed;
And so might I have been your friend:
Old tramp -- I die your enemy instead.







DOROTHY IN THE GARRET.


By J. T. TROWBRIDGE.

Picture of J T Trowbridge

  IN the low-raftered garret, stooping

   Carefully over the creaking boards,

Old maid Dorothy goes a groping

   Among its dusty and cobwebbed hoards;

Seeking some bundle of patches, hid

   Far under the eaves, or bunch of sage,

Or satchel, hung on its nail amid

   The heirlooms of a bygone age.


There is the ancient family chest,

   There the ancestral cards and hatchel ;

Dorothy, sighing, sinks down to rest,

   Forgetful of patches, sage, and satchel.

Ghosts of faces peer from the gloom

   Of the chimney, where, with swifts and reel,

And the long disused, dismantled loom,

   Stands the old-fashioned spinning wheel.


She sees it back in the clean-swept kitchen,

   A part of her girlhood's little world;

Her mother is there by the window, stitching;

   Spindle buzzes, and reel is whirled,

With many a click; on her little stool

   She sits, a child, by the open door,

Watching, and dabbling her feet in the pool

   Of sunshine spilled on the gilded floor.


Her sisters are spinning all day long;

   To her waking sense, the first sweet warning

Of daylight come, is the cheerful song

   To the hum of the wheel, in the early morning.

Benjie, the gentle, red-cheeked boy,

   On his way to school, peeps in at the gate:

In neat, white pinafore, pleased and coy,

   She reaches a hand to her bashful mate;


And under the elms, a prattling pair,

   Together they go, through glimmer and gloom --

It all comes back to her, dreaming there

   In the low-raftered garret room;

The hum of the wheel, and the summer weather,

   The heart's first trouble, and love's beginning,

Are all in her memory linked together;

   And now it is she herself that is spinning.


With the bloom of youth on cheek and lip,

   Turning the spokes with the flashing pin,

Twisting the thread from the spindle tip,

   Stretching it out and winding it in,

To and fro, with a blithesome tread,

   Singing she goes, and her heart is fun,

And many a long-drawn golden thread

   Of fancy is spun with the shining wool.


Her father sits in his favorite place,

   Puffing his pipe by the chimney side;

Through curling clouds, his kindly face

   Glows upon her with love and pride.

Lulled by the wheel, in the old armchair

   Her mother is musing, cat in lap,

With beautiful drooping head, and hair

   Whitening under her snow-white cap.


One by one, to the grave, to the bridal,

   They have followed her sisters from the door;

Now they are old, and she is their idol --

   It all comes back on her heart once more.

In the autumn dusk the hearth gleams brightly,

   The wheel is set by the shadowy wall --

A hand at the latch -- 'tis lifted lightly,

   And in walks Benjie, manly and tall.


His chair is placed: the old man tips

   The pitcher, and brings his choicest fruit;

Benjie basks in the blaze, and sips,

   And tells his story, and joints his flute.

Oh, sweet the tunes, the talk, the laughter!

   They fill the hour with a glowing tide;

But sweeter the still, deep moments after,

   When she is alone by Benjie's side.


But once with angry words they part;

   Oh, then the weary, weary days!

Ever with restless, wretched heart,

   Plying her task, she turns to gaze

Far up the road; and early and late

   She harks for a footstep at the door,

And starts at the gust that swings the gate,

   And prays for Benjie, who comes no more.


Her fault? Oh, Benjie! and could you steel

   Your thoughts toward one who loved you so?

Solace she seeks in the whirling wheel,

   In duty and love, that lighten woe;

Striving with labor, not in vain,

   To drive away the dull day's dreariness;

Blessing the toil that blunts the pain

   Of a deeper grief in the body's weariness.


Proud, and petted, and spoiled was she;

   A word, and all her life is changed!

His wavering love too easily

   In the great, gay city grows estranged.

One year: she sits in the old church pew;

A rustle, a murmur-- oh, Dorothy, hide

Your face, and shut from your soul the view!

'Tis Benjie leading a white-veiled bride!


Now father and mother have long been dead,

   And the bride sleeps under a churchyard stone,

And a bent old man, with grizzled head,

   Walks up the long, dim aisle alone.

Years blur to a mist; and Dorothy

   Sits doubting betwixt the ghost she seems

And the phantom of youth, more real than she,

   That meets her there in that haunt of dreams.


Bright young Dorothy, idolized daughter,

   Sought by many a youthful adorer,

Life, like a new-risen dawn on the water,

   Shining an endless vista before her!

Old maid Dorothy, wrinkled and gray,

   Groping under the farmhouse eaves,

And life is a brief November day,

   That sets on a world of withered leaves!


Yet faithfulness in the humblest part

   Is better at last than proud success;

And patience and love in a chastened heart

   Are pearls more precious than happiness:

And in that morning when she shall wake

   To the springtime freshness of youth again,

All trouble will seem but a flying flake,

   And lifelong sorrow a breath on the pane.







THE CHARCOAL MAN

By JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE

THOUGH rudely blows the wintry blast,
And sifting snows fall white and fast,
Mark Haley drives along the street,
Perched high upon his wagon seat;
His somber face the storm defies,
And thus from morn till eve he cries, --
" Charco'! charco'!"
While echo faint and far replies, --
"Hark, O! hark, O!"
"Charco'! " -- "Hark, O ! " -- Such cheery sounds
Attend him on his daily rounds.

The dust begrimes his ancient hat;
His coat is darker far than that;
'Tis odd to see his sooty form
All speckled with the feathery storm;
Yet in his honest bosom lies
Nor spot, nor speck, -- though still he cries,
" Charco'! charco'!"
And many a roguish lad replies,
" Ark, ho! ark, ho! "
"Charco' ! " -- " Ark, ho! " -- Such various sounds
Announce Mark Haley's morning rounds.

Thus all the cold and wintry day
He labors much for little pay;
Yet feels no less of happiness
Than many a richer man, I guess,
When through the shades of eve he spies
The light of his own home, and cries,
" Charco'! charco'!"
And Martha from the door replies,
"Mark, ho! Mark, ho!"
"Charco' ! " -- " Mark, ho !" -- Such joy abounds
When he has closed his daily rounds.

The hearth is warm, the fire is bright
And while his hand, washed clean and white,
Holds Martha's tender hand once more,
His glowing face bends fondly o'er
The crib wherein his darling lies,
And in a coaxing tone he cries,
" Charco'! charco'!"
And baby with a laugh replies,
"Ah, go! ah, go!"
"Charco'!" -" Ah, go!" -- while at the sounds
The mother's heart with gladness bounds.

Then honored be the charcoal man!
Though dusky as an African,
'Tis not for you, that chance to be
A little better clad than he,
His honest manhood to despise,
Although from morn till eve he cries,
" Charco'! charco' ! "
While mocking echo still replies,
"Hark, O! hark, 0! "
"Charco' ! " -- " Hark, O! " -- Long may the sounds
Proclaim Mark Haley's daily rounds!






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