Ballad of Foulweather Jack.

Admiral Byron has weighed his anchor1
And put to sea in a gale :2
But deep in his heart is a hidden canker,3
Because of an oft-told tale.4
Brave he may be, deny it who can,5
Yet Admiral John is a luckless man ;6
And the midshipmen’s mothers cry, “ Out, alack !7
My lad has sailed with Foulweather Jack !”8
Admiral Byron has hoisted his pennant,9
And steered for Cape Breton shore :10
But the surgeon says to the first lieutenant,11
We shall never see Spithead more !12
Weather-beaten and battle-scarr’d,13
To Plymouth Hoe or to Portsmouth Hard,14
The crews return—but they never come back15
Who sign and serve with Foulweather Jack !16
Many a frigate has he commanded,17
In every storm that’s blown :18
He would fight with a squadron single-handed19
But his luck is the devil’s own :20
He loses the wind, he misses the tide,21
He shaves the rocks, and his shots go wide22
The fate is curst and the future black,23
That hangs o’er the head of Foulweather Jack24
As for me, I’m a tough old stager,25
Nor care if I sink or swim,26
But when I think of the stranded Wager,27
My heart is heavy for him.28
Round the world to ruin and wreck29
He carried his luck on the Dolphin’s deck :30
If ever a man had the gift and knack31
Of sheer disaster, ’tis Foulweather Jack !32


As a seagull’s wings o’er the surges flutter,33
In the light of the sunset flame,34
There hovered from westward a hasty cutter,35
To speak with the frigate Fame.36
Twenty Parley-voo ships to-day37
Lurk and loiter in Chaleur Bay ;38
Like wolves they gather to make attack39
On the ships and convoy of Foulweather Jack.40
Frigates three for your three are biding,41
And of arm’d privateers a score ;42
Sloops and schooners at anchor riding,43
Are waiting you close inshore :44
Their guns are many, and yours are few ;45
Hight to one they outnumber you :46
The wind is low and the tide is slack,47
But you yet may escape them, Foulweather Jack.”48
The Admiral stood six foot and over,49
He was stately and stern to see :50
But his eyes lit up like those of a lover,51
And merry of mind was he :52
And the Byron blood and the Berkeley blood53
Burned in his veins like a fiery flood,54
And his pulses leaped, and his comely face55
Glowed with the pride of a fighting race.56
The Admiral laughed with the wind’s own laughter,57
And spoke with the sea’s own might,58
From danger and death, and what comes after,59
No Englishman turns in flight :60
They call me unlucky—to-day you’ll learn61
How the worst of luck for a time may turn :62
We’ll rid the seas of this vermin-pack,63
And I’ll be huntsman !” quoth Foulweather Jack.64
The twilight sank and the darkness settled,65
The Admiral’s frigate led :66
She took the waves like a steed high-mettled,67
And thus to his men he said :68
Desperate measures for desperate needs,69
And valorous crews for dare-devil deeds :70
A goodly quarry we have in track71
Clear the decks for action !” says Foulweather Jack.72
All through the night were the seabirds soaring,73
Shrieking and scared from rest :74
All through the night the guns were roaring75
Under the seabirds’ nest.76
When morning broke in a glimmer grey,77
There was dreadful silence in Chaleur Bay,—78
Only the crackle of burning decks,79
And cries for succour from crowded wrecks.80
The Bienfaisant is aground and blazing,81
And sunk is the proud Marchault :82
The privateersmen aghast are gazing83
At their vessels that burn a-row ;84
The staggering smoke that volleys and blows85
Shrouds the shattered Marquis de Marlose,86
And the sloops and schooners in rout and wrack87
Strew the pathway of Foulweather Jack.88
The prisoners question in fear and wonder,89
What fiend have we fought to-day ?90
We are burnt and splintered and split in sunder,91
Who boasted him soon our prey.92
He grappled and boarded us, one to ten,93
But he and his crew are devils, not men :94
Curs’d be the hour when we crossed the track95
Of this—how do you call him ?—Foulweather Jack !”96
Admiral Byron has counted his losses,97
And steered for Cape Breton shore ;98
The baulks and spars that the wild wave tosses,99
Last night they were ships of war.100
The wounded men in the cock-pit dim101
With feeble voices huzza for him :102
The stars may fall and the skies may crack,—103
But my luck is broken!” says Foulweather Jack.104