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On a Four-masted Warship

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Place Collected: Upton St. Leonards
Date collected: 1977 (14 Apr)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym
Roud Number: 16743

Little is known about this nonsense song. Apart from this fragment, only one other version exists, that collected in Essex in the 60s, with the words:

On a four-masted warship we sailed o’er the blue
With a salvation captain as one of the crew
To a seaport in Europe we sailed as gay tars
With a cargo of lightning and bottled cigars.

The first eighteen months we got on right enough
‘Till the weather began to get awfully rough.
In the midst of a storm we had to turn back the boat,
While the captain went home for his waterproof coat.

At the Cape of Good Hope, well our luck it was bad
When some sharks got aboard of our old iron clad
The ship struck a match and the cargo took fire
And the crew walked ashore on the telegraph wire.

Last summer, next winter, the [wheel?] before last
A man with a stone hammer he was breaking fast
Some cast-iron steel cakes he was trying to digest
When he fell down and broke the backbone of his chest.

He sent for the doctor and he stated his case
While the tears from his eyes they burned holes in his face.
He filled the holes up with some sawdust and tar,
And then with a cricket he lit his cigar.

Well he jumped out of bed and his candle he lit,
He had a revolver and he loaded it.
“I’ll stand this no longer”, he savagely said.
Then he blew out his brain and he got back to bed.


Notes by Gwilym Davies