Splice the mainbrace, Mr Ellington! Here’s a tot to warm your cockles, eh? Another scurvy scab turned up his heels And gone to Davy’s locker, a curse i’throat. GodAmighty, these hangdogs are not worth a stiver, ‘Less we skin the rabbits and trim their viands. What a sell in Sydney Cove to make some brass ‘Pon the sly. Bloody slaves can wear the bands. Hark! This quiet might almost wake the dead. Ghouls flit like death heads twixt sheets and sails. Oftentimes our masonics stir the witching watch. I’ faith, the bulkheads are stout and studded with nails, Loopholed. The hatchways are guarded, main and fore. Aye, six and forty dead afore the Cape. A tally that might shake the Gov’nor. ‘Sdeath! Our bloody backs can’t guard agin’ the scurvy, Yet blasted brimstones seem made of sterner stuff. Ship’s contract – transported, slopped and fed – Seventeen pound, seven shilluns and sixpence Per nob. Bah! There’s an ‘andsome sum, indeed! ‘Twould make a fly laugh. And ter think on it: Once I were a master under Nelson God rest his soul! Traill of HMS Albemarle. And now Neptune’s shellback with ropehooky hands. Fie on’t. We must perforce turn up a trump, Fake the accompts with false returns of deaths For pinchgut money. The dead can rot in their chains Rubbed to their graves, whiles we pinch their peck. What means this life if not to prosper? We have good bonnet. The Scarborough’s master, Marshall, Is allays afeard of being took napping By rumbustical thatchgallows and sharpers. Credits the canaries will prig his ship and cut the cables. So he’s clapped iron mittens on ‘em, darbies, double slangs, Weeded their rations, watered their booze, starved ‘em, Begrudged small huddles to hobble the deck – in irons. What a juggins to list to fancy cackle! He carries the keg, Beyer carries coals. May Master and Surgeon serve our justification.
My eye, how we bridged John Shapcote, Agent of Transports, Who thinks his ha’penny good silver! Taken queer, And very poorly, an old sickrel nigh croaking hissen. By the maskins, good riddance to the plant! He’d ‘ave ratted upon us, the dog. I’ll be dammed, Mr Ellington, if we don’t heave ahead. I’ll ne’er put you in the well. We’ll share the wack With Camden, Calvert and King, ole Neptune’s owners, Mr Sharps they be, rich as Croesus. The push and press Belowdecks is due to them, deathhunters more ‘n us. Slang our mauleys ‘pon it. Aye, good man! Now let’s gollop a bumper!
May 27June4, 2004