They ‘pressed me on His Majesty’s frigate
The H.M.S. Carew,
It only took me a day to find
I was lodged with the Devils’s crew,
The Captain, ‘Black Jack’ Hawkins
Was a gentleman by name,
But on the ship he used the whip
To his undying shame.
I slipped and fell from the foremast arm
When I caught my foot in a stay,
And though a net kept me safe from harm
That wasn’t the Captain’s way,
He said I’d swim for my mortal sin
Told the crew to rope me through,
Then dragged me over the side and said,
‘We’re going to keel-haul you.’
The barnacles on the Carew’s hull
Nearly tore my back to shreds,
My lungs were so close to bursting that
I thought that I was dead.
They hauled me over the side again
The deck was red from my back,
At least I knew I was safe again
From a sudden shark attack.
They rubbed raw salt in my many wounds
Till I thought I was in hell,
While some of the crew had mocked and jeered
The Devil’s own cartel,
They wore tattoos of the skull and bones
It was strange for a Royal crew,
But they themselves had been Impressed
So they hated Hawkins too.
He used to stand on the quarter-deck
Quite close to the starboard rail,
Where he could see any slacking off
While we were under sail,
He’d tie the men to the nearest mast
And would whip, before the crew,
Till every man was inflamed and raw
And would plot what they would do.
It fell to me to devise a plan
That everyone agreed,
We had to get rid of this Devil man
It became our only creed,
So I took a rope when I climbed the mast
That was fixed above his head,
Then swung and booted him over the rail
So we thought that he was dead.
The crew then dashed to the starboard side
And they all looked down and cursed,
For Hawkins floated upon the tide,'
It couldn’t be much worse,
He shouted up, ‘This is mutiny!
I’ll flay that man to the bone.’
But all he got were the jeers of the crew
As the Captain sank like a stone.
David Lewis Paget