You brave English sailors that plow the ocean wide,
There are no better fellows in all the world beside;
Give ear unto a bloody fight to you I will display
Between a Spanish man-of-war, and the Kent, near Cator Bay.
The Lennox and the Orford was cruising thereabout,
And by a Spanish man-of-war they quickly were spy'd out.
Under French colours she down upon us bore,
Thinking we were two merchant ships which had of riches store;
The third she thought a man-of-war our convoy for to be,
And soon she tho't to have taken us, if not more force than she;
But whilst our English man-of-war did preparations make,
And when that she came up with her, it proved a sad mistake.
She carried five hundred seamen, four hundred marines,
Most of them Irish fellows, who fought with [courage keen];
Seventy-four guns she mounted, all of the largest size,
With which she thought of our ships to make a noble prize,
But she was much mistaken, as plainly doth appear,
For we have made a prize of her, and she's arrived here.
The Lennox, Captain Manning, receiv'd the first broadside,
Which carried away his foremast, and his bowsprit beside;
This sad unhappy accident he would no longer stay;
He was so sore disabled, was forc'd to bear away;
But for to show his courage bold altho' distressed sore,
He did a thundering broadside into the Spaniard pour.
The next run up the Kent, with Captain Durell bold,
Who gave to them a good broadside, like jolly hearts of gold,
Which scar'd the Spanish captain so, he was just going to strike,
So certainly he had it done, but for an Irish tike,
Which was his first lieutenant, who with the men combin'd;
He said 'I'll fight the ship myself, the captain we'll confine.
'Now come, my loving countrymen, with courage play your parts,
For if the English take us, we are sure of our deserts;
'Tis better manfully to fight, and here to die at sea,
For if the English take us now, we shall all hanged be.'
With that they gave a loud huzza, unto him thus did cry,
'You shall from hence our captain be, we'll fight until we die.'
Like jolly hearts of gold they made their cannons roar,
Into the Kent without delay a full broad-side did pour;
Which noble Captain Durell bold did soon return again;
Full fifty of the Spanish men by that broad-side were slain.
Broad-side for broad-side, nine hours did we fight,
Till we at length did take them, our cause being just and right.
Yard-arm and yard-arm, for hours there [we] lay;
With great guns, small arms, and cutlasses we made a bloody fray;
Dead men in numbers lay about, our scuppers fill'd with blood,
Which made the seas [a]round us so like a purple flood.
Three fingers from one hand brave Captain Durell lost;
But yet he was not daunted, still he maintain'd the cause.
The third it was the Orford, who had spectator been,
But could not come to help us, nor join the bloody scene;
He hove his ship up to the wind, and brought some guns to bear,
When the desperate saw that, his heart sunk down with fear;
He was so sore disabled, and was so flutter'd then,
To which he had already lost above five hundred men.
But then this Irish desperate did also order then
Two guns to point down into the hold, to sink both ship and men.
O! this unhappy order fill'd his men with horrid dread,
When instantly a cannon-ball came and took off his head.
They made no more resistance, but down their colours took,
And to the Orford now come up, immediately she struck.
So now these Irish desperates, their case it must look sad;
To fight against King and country, their cause was very bad.
Here's health to all our admirals, and the captains also,
Likewise to every brave seaman aboard with them that go.
And may the bowl successful flow to all our British fleet,
Wishing they may Jack Spaniard drub, where'er with them they meet.
The poet tells such dreadful lies, it makes one gasp and stretch one's eyes. Never spoil a good story with the truth, as my father used to say; one of several sentiments he was inclined to reiterate. I was not one of his subscribers: I find the truth more interesting than the fiction. The poet was an inspiration to William Topaz M'Gonagall, however, one of the true heroes of British literary history.