Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Sea Ballad

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sydney Dobell 1824–74

Sea Ballad


“HOW many?” said our good Captain.

“Twenty sail and more.”

We were homeward bound,

Scudding in a gale with our jib towards the Nore.

Right athwart our tack,

The foe came thick and black,

Like Hell-birds and foul weather—you might count them by the score.

The Betsy Jane did slack

To see the game in view.

They knew the Union-Jack,

And the tyrant’s flag we knew!

Our Captain shouted “Clear the decks!” and the Bo’sun’s whistle blew.

Then our gallant Captain,

With his hand he seiz’d the wheel,

And pointed with his stump to the middle of the foe.

“Hurray, lads, in we go!”

(You should hear the British cheer,

Fore and aft.)

“There are twenty sail,” sang he,

“But little Betsy Jane bobs to nothing on the sea!”

(You should hear the British cheer,

Fore and aft.)

“See you ugly craft

With the pennon at her main!

Hurrah, my merry boys,

There goes the Betsy Jane!”

(You should hear the British cheer,

Fore and aft.)

The foe, he beats to quarters, and the Russian bugles sound;

And the little Betsy Jane she leaps upon the sea.

“Port and starboard!” cried our Captain;

“Pay it in, my hearts!” sang he.

“We ’re old England’s sons,

And we ’ll fight for her to-day!”

(You should hear the British cheer.

Fore and aft.)

“Fire away!”

In she runs,

And her guns

Thunder round.