The Lascar Crew.

Admiral Gore Jones, Naval Commander-in-Chief of the East India
Station, when presiding recently over a meeting at the Bombay Sailors’
Home, commented on the practice of the steamship companies manning
their ships with Lascar crews, and he predicted that this practice would
some day lead to great disaster.



The ship Britannia sailed away1
One stormy winter, to cross the Bay,2
With a skipper bold and a gallant crew,3
And the flag at her mast of the old True Blue.4
Her sails were stout, and her spars were strong,5
And she seemed to feel, as she bowled along,6
That she feared not the worst that winter could do,7
For her decks were manned by a British crew.8


The winds blew free and the waves rose high,9
And the lightning shivered across the sky,10
And the good ship plunged in the foaming deep,11
Then reared like a horse ere he takes his leap.12
Oh, well for her that the man at the wheel13
Had an iron hand and a heart of steel !14
Oh, well for her that her skipper true15
Would have none on board but a British crew !16


She rode the waves and she weathered the blast,17
Till she sailed into summer seas at last,18
And her flag aloft was yet proudly borne,19
Though her spars were strained and her sails were torn.20
Then those who knew what the storm had been,21
And all that the skipper had suffered and seen,22
Said, “Ah, there’s nothing that ship can’t do,23
As long as she’s manned by a British crew !”24




‘Tis winter again, and the ship must sail25
Across the Bay in a furious gale :26
Her sails are stout, and her spars are strong,27
And why should she fear as she bowls along ?28
With her gallant crew, and her skipper bold,29
And her flag that waves where it waved of old,30
Oh why should she fear what the gale can do,31
While she carries on board her British crew ?32


Alas for the ship, and alas for the flag !33
The old True Blue is a pitiful rag34
All ravelled and sodden with mud and dirt35
By the hands that should guard it from stain or hurt.36
Alas for the ship, and the gallant men37
Who could save her now as they saved her then38
Oh, well may she fear what the gale can do,39
For her decks are manned by a Lascar crew ! 40


Alas for the ship, that her pilot’s hand41
Is shifting and weak as a rope of sand !42
And alas for her, that her captain’s eye43
Is wicked and wild as the stormy sky !44
He sees not the breakers which foam ahead,45
He hears not the thunder-clouds’ gathering tread,46
And little he recks what the gale can do47
But oh for one hour of her British crew !48


The waves will rise, and the winds will blow,49
And the Lascars will cower like rats below ;50
With nerveless fingers and craven heart,51
Under battened hatches they shiver and start :52
The skipper is mad, and the rudder gone,53
And the ship rushes on to her doom alone54
And we know too well what the gale will do55
To a ship that is manned by a Lascar crew !56