MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

Captain Larkins

John M. Curtis NFLD 2 Tape 10 Track 3
Trepassey Audio:

CURTIS: (sings)

Oh come all ye jolly sailor lads before the mast do sail
Twould be worth your while a moment to listen to my tale
And if you pay attention l won't ye long delay
Till l relate the hardships that do attend at sea

Being on December the eighteenth right well l recollect the day
When Larkins he gave orders for to get underway
With double-reefed topsails fore and aft our brig before the wind
Leaving St. John's that bonny place a long distance behind

The day bein' on the twentieth the sea it did run high
And flew wit’ all his might while dismal looked the sky
The morning of the twenty-first a dreadful sea she poked
That carried away our roundhouse and her wheel in pieces broke

Some of the tars hung to the yards her canvas for to clue
While under three rigged foresail we round our good ship to
Some of the crew did try the pumps more with her decks did clear
And more a reel and tackle got her helm to secure

For two days and two nights lying to we did remain
Till our wheel it was completed and fit to run again
And_______ from the North nor'-west wit vengeance still it blew
Our Captain cries make sail my b’ys and we'll see what she can do

From eight knots to eleven she reeled off till Christmas day
And ten o’clock in the forenoon she shipped another sea
It filled her deck from rail to rail the breakers foamed all round
Twas everyman’s opinion stern-foremost she’d go down

The Captain and the wheelsman was on deck at the time
The rest O' the watch were down below some spare sails for to find
They did their efforts to get up but it was all in vain
Wit' the force of water bundling down her deck they couldn't gain

For fourteen or fifteen minutes she lay quite motionless
It did to us great injuries once more our wheel did smash
Our compass and binnacle half a rail away it took
It started(?) our companion galleys stanchion and bulwark

But to the Lord we’re grateful relief he did afford
So quickly it did abate the next sea it didn’t board
Twenty-seven crowded canvas and before the wind did fly
The sixteenth day we were at sea the rock of Gib-e-ralter she passed by

It's for our usage brave boys come listen unto me
Perhaps twill be a warning for you who'll go to sea
We oftentimes went hungry rather than for to complain
Till at length it grew so very hard our allowance was forced to claim

According to the board of trade our articles were read
As neat as if it was gold dust we were weighed one pound of bread
For twenty-four long hours on that a man should do
Besides pork and beef and tea and coffee wit’ sugar allowances to

Peter Ansfield our chief office long life wit’ him remain
He oftentimes did pity us and say it was a shame
To see such l'yal hearted men all treated as we were
But pinchin’ slyly Captain Larkins sayin’ we got our share

Wit' hearts like oak bath stout and bold we agreed wit' one another
Combined we were l do declare as united as brothers
To starve there on the ocean before Larkins we would say
Askin' for one morsel but our single pound a day

So now to conclude and finish l have little more to say
For the want of time and learning once more must go to sea
Leaving our wives and sweethearts in sorrow for to mourn
May God above send down his love and grant us a safe return

If you're inclined my name to find apply to the Alphabet
The first letter of the twenty-six do belong to it
The third you may lay on it and after that divide
The seventh and eighth you may complete lay on the fifth beside

The tent' and fourteent' study on the fifteenth bear in mind
And the eighteenth letter will situate as you may plainly see
I __________ hesitation to tell you the author's name

(Last line spoken)


Text : Tells of a stormy voyage aboard Captain Larkin's ship from St. John's past Gibraltar.   The crew comments on their meagre rations and their united refusal to complain.   There is an "O Come All Ye" opening stanza.   The final three verses are closing formulas, an appeal to God for a safe return, and an alphabet formula with which to supposedly construct the composer's names.   The final line is spoken.

Tune : The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse.   The whole of the final line is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song.   The meter is freely felt with varying number of beats per phrase.   The key is E major with a range of 11 notes from B up to E.

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