Our ships now load, the deck's all clear,
But still lays moored in the tier.
The captain, he then comes on board,
With all the dignity of a Lord---
"Well, John, You are all load, I see
But still she looks very bold to me.
I think the measure still grows worse,
The coal trade won’t be worth a curse--
Did she take in all the two and twenty?”
Yes, sir, all, and there was plenty!”
“John, have you got on board the ale and beer?
I’ll change our brewer, if I live, next year;
His beer he makes so very small,
His ale I’m sure won’t keep at all.
I expect you will all ready be,
For at high water she must go to sea,
If wind or steam can take her out
And go, she must, there’s not a doubt.”
“Oh, the - - - - - - - - Ohoy!” the pilot cries,
As under the ship’s bow he lies;
The captain then looks o’er the bows,
When the following dialogue ensues;
“Well, sir, all ready for sea?
Tully can’t get, so has sent me;
If you think of going, let’s begin,
It’s time you had your stern rope In –
She won't sail out, the winds too shy,
But we must heave her out and try;
The wind looks as if it would be
All from the North-East at sea –
So come, my lads, and let's be at her,
We'll have a steam-boat, where's the matter?”
“Sea! certainly, pilot, there's no doubt,
We won't lay here if we can get out”
Our ship's now hove out of the tier,
At single anchor lays all clear;
The steam-boat she then comes a-head
And by a warp the ship doth lead,
Our anchor then hove to the bow,
With catt and fish the same to stow;
“Come, lay aloft, my lads, hurro,
Your yard-arm gaskets too let go!
Hold fast your bunts, let go your gear,
For sheeting home see all things clear;”
With rapid pace the vessel goes,
Nor cares which way the wind it blows.
The wind at north, a pleasant gale,
Below the Middens we make sail;
“Steam-boat ahoy! let go the warp,
Come haul it in, my lads, look sharp!”
The ship's now safely out at sea,
The pilot then discharged must be;
“Now sir, I'll thank you for my note,
Brace the yards by, haul up the boat --
You know, sir, what you mostly pay,
You’ll make it square money I dare say;”
The pilot now has got his note,
With haste he steps into the boat.
“I wish you a good passage,sir, goodbye!”
“Thank you pilot," they reply;
The captain, then, takes the command,
And on the quarter-deck does stand.
“Square away your yards, my lads, right square,
And all your steering-sail gear prepare;
Look sharp, my lads, come bear a-hand,
Set every steering-sail that will stand.”
The boys aloft the haulyards reave,
The mate on deck the same receive;
The men the steering-sail booms rig out,
With all the haste they can, no doubt.
All sail’s now set the breeze to catch,
We clear the decks, and set the watch;
One half on deck the watch to keep,
The other half below in hammocks sleep.
She rolls along, the wind keeps fair,
The nights not dark, there’s little care;
The morning comes, ‘tis eight-o-clock,
They call the watch -- on deck they knock
Each man who ha tea and sugar got,
He makes the first board to find his pot;
Which, if not boiled the boys the know,
That they to leeward soon will go!
The captain wakes – “you boy!” he cries,
“I'm coming, sir,”, the boy replies;
“Come boy, look sharp, the coffee make,
And tell the cook to fry me a stake.
Set the cold beef out for the mate,
And put me some butter on a plate;
The boy moves as quick as he is able,
And sets all things upon the table.
He views the beef with anxious eyes,
That some is gone he soon espies;
“You boy,” says he, “It's my belief
That you have eat some of this beef.”
“A've never touched it sir, not I,
A'm sure I would not tell a lie;
The piece you cut me for my tea
Was plenty, quite enough for me.”
“Them d---n you, tell me who it's been
That it is gone is plainly seen!
It's not been rats, I'm sure of that;
And I'm as sure it's not the cat!
So speak at once, the truth let's have,
If your back you wish to save.”
“In the middle watch, last night,
It was not dark, but t'was moon-light –
Aw saw the mate come down below,
And cut about three pound or so;
And then on deck he eat the same –
Aw knew that aw should get the blame.”
“Curse his guts, the gormandizer!
But no, I never shall be wiser;
If my beef I wish to save it,
I under lock and key must have it”
The mate on deck does little know
How bets are going on below;
Unconscious when the message sent,
Unto the breakfast table went.
He sees all's not right – some sad disaster
Has enraged his lord and master;
His sullen look, his heavy frown,
When at the table he sat down.
He dare not enquire what's the reason,
The very thought would be high treason;
But scarce had he ta'en his cup in hand,
Ere he received the following reprimand;
“It's a most surprising thing to me,
That people who have got their tea,
Cannot with that be satisfied,
But stuff and eat all night beside.
Its what I assure you I don't allow
I never did, and will not now;
If you must eat supper after tea,
You're not a man that will suit me!”
Poor John he sat in great surprise,
Nor scarcely dared to lift his eyes,
Till roused from his sudden stupor,
He found he was allowed no supper
A man that won't stand out for food,
That man I'm sure he is not good;
“I own” says John “I did last night
Eat my supper by moon-light --
I’ve been at sea now twenty years,
And never in that time did hear
Such work about a slice of beef --
You could not say more were I a thief!
It is a rule which I have seen
In every ship where I have been,
If the master did not feel inclined,
Or to eat supper had no mind.
He would tell his mate not him to mind,
But get his supper when inclined;
But you, you take your bread and cheese
Your porter, grog, and what you please:
You go to bed, all night to sleep,
Whilst I on deck the watch must keep;
Now, I will ask you, if you please,
If to sleep all night wants bread and cheese?
Must I not, think you, hungry be,
That walk the deck all night at sea?
Stare not, nor in a passion be,
Nor cast your angry looks at me --
I’ll tell you plainly, once for all,
You need not shout, nor need you bawl;
Put your beef by, and mind you lock it,
And keep the key safe in your pocket.
For if you don’t I vow and swear,
I’ll have my meat while I am here,
“That won’t be long -- this voyage no more --
Then you may hand yourself on shore.”
“Don’t be alarmed, I’ll go no more,
Much sooner would I stop on shore”:
John takes his hat, on deck he goes,
And thus you see the scene they close.
This is a specimen you hear,
With what a mate has got to bear;
But mind, I do not mean to say
All mates are treated in this way.
The wind keeps fair, we jog along,
Some half asleep, some hums a song;
The word from aft a good look out to keep
They reply -- “Aye Aye!” though half asleep.
Nothing particular did us befall,
On the fifth day we got Blackwall;
We saved our market too that day,
As from the Nore our papers went away.
Next day into the Pool we went,
We moor’d our ships, and our sails unbent,
We dried our warps and cables too,
Before we coiled them below.
Next day we received on board a vat,
We are meter’d you may know, by that;
We lift our boat, set her athwart,
And get all ready for a start.
The cook his baskets overhauling
Some wants straps and some wants marling;
On board comes the basket man and crew,
The meter’s man hails at the bow:
“Master, mate, come get your ladder ready,
Pray, sir, hang it well and steady;
That no serious disaster
May happen to my master!”
The ladder fast, up comes the meter,
Followed close by his man Peter;
The captain pass’d the morning compliment,
When they down into the cabin went.
“Let me see, sir, you’ve got Russel’s in,
Have we a craft here to begin?”
“Yes, sir, the lightermen just now
Has brought a craft unto the bow.”
“Pray, sir, what may be in your cockett?
But, stop, I’ve got the turn-bill in my pocket.”
“This time,sir, we have taken in more,
By far, than ever we did before.”
“Well, sir, there is not a doubt,
If the coals are in, they will come out;
But those cursed imperial vats, I say,
Are fifty pounds per year out of our way
Believe me, sir, as I do live,
We cannot satisfaction give;
And then, you know, if we don’t please,
We are deprived of our fees."
Well, sir, pray do what you can,
You’ll find me, I believe, a liberal man;
About your dinner, sir, pray name
Whatever you choose, it’s just the same!
To go on shore is my intention,
I’ll send it off, if you but mention"
“Oh! any thing -- it matters not,
I’ll be content with what you’ve got!
But if you really do intend
Something from the shore to send,
Say a chine of pork, or lamb and peas,
A beef steak, or what you please;
Or a boiled tongue and leg of mutton,
Or any thing,sir, I’m a glutton!"
Self-interest, that ruling passion,
That’s lately got so much in fashion;
Look at its weight, it turns the scale
When every argument will fail;
How frail is man! just now you see
How liberal that man can be
But if the reason you must know,
And what it is that makes him so,
He treats the meter with his dinner;
To make him still the greater sinner.
He thinks the meter well must treat,
And then he will the merchant cheat;
If you but look, you sure must see,
It cannot his disposition be!
His kindness now is nought but gammon,
He heaves a sprat to catch a salmon;
Well, by this time I think you’re tired,
But I just write as you desired.
You told me to give a true description,
I’ve done it here without deception;
The captain’s now returned on board,
His market-basket is well stored.
He’s got some lamb, likewise some peas.
No doubt it will the meter please;
The mate the same may chance to taste,
Ere he will let it go to waste.
Our cook’s quite busy, there’s no doubt,
The galley’s now turned inside-out;
He will do his best, it’s my belief,
To roast the lamb and boil the beef --
Likewise the peas and brocoli,
Before they to the table go;
A good large pudding too is made,
A constant thing in the coal trade.
I’ll describe to you, as I am able,
The scene that’s at the dinner table;
The cabin’s small, in the first place,
A stout oak table does it grace --
A looking-glass stands in the centre,
Which faces you as you do enter;
And this being the first working day,
The dirty table cloth is put away.
And a clean cloth is handed out,
Clean from the captain’s house no doubt;
All things are now set in their place,
The cleanly boy has wash’d his face.
The meter’s summon’d down, and then
He’s follow’d by three lightermen;
Who, because they’ll get tha coals soon out,
Must live well, there’s not a doubt.
The captain and meter claim the chairs,
Two lightermen the locker shares;
Where will the third sit? you will ask,
Why, upon the empty porter cask.
And I’m afraid that the poor mate
Will find no seat, nor yet a plate;
But John with patience is so blest,
He will take his dinner on his chest.
The captain looks and sees all right,
Is quite obliging and polite;
He hopes they will no inviting take,
But, as at home, a dinner take.
He carves -- he eats -- and thinks by turns,
For a quick dispatch his bosum burns;
He sees, as clear as the sun’s rays,
She will be all out in four days.
The lightermen they promise fair,
They know the money will be there;
With grog and dinner when they choose,
A chance that they will seldom lose.
Each man’s now satisfied, they say,
And the dinner things are put away;
To make room for the rum and gin:
To have a glass ere they begin.
They take their grog -- they talk and sup,
Some use a glass, and some a cup;
The turn-bill is on the table laid,
And by each man it is surveyed.
The captain and lightermen now agree,
For he has told them what it is to be:
To work, to work, the word they pass,
The meter now must leave his glass.
The lightermen now leave the barge,
And go on shore, to the mate’s charge;
The seamen they must swing and trim,
For it won’t be done at all by him.
Thus you see each succeeding day,
Just goes on in the same way,
Until the stocks begin to fail,
And they have drunk out all the ale.
I’ll tell you now our cargo’s out,
And glad I am, you need not doubt;
Would you believe it, she has made out no more,
Than she has mostly done before.
The meter now may go away,
A single copper he won’t pay;
He need not wait, it is no use,
He will get nothing but abuse.
Our ballast is now alon side,
We shall be ready in the morning tide;
To heave it in they are just begun,
Pat says there is good seventy ton.
But Pat’s word must not be taken,
For in that they’re oft mistaken;
They are begging hard for a drop of gin,
Almost before they do begin.
The half-hour glass is set in motion,
To spell the hold a very good notion;
It’s what is termed very fair,
Then each man trimshis equal share.
And some of us will have, you know,
To get our stocks before we go;
Our ballast, now, it is all in,
Another scene I must begin.
We have hove our ship out of the tier,
And by good luck our anchor’s clear;
Which very seldom is the case,
There’s such confusion in this place.
Here comes our waterman and boy,
The constant man he does employ;
His name is Sam, a clever fellow,
But Sam sometimes gets a little mellow.
But that, you know, is nothing new,
For clever fellows often do;
It’s now high water, the winds at west,
We set our sails to do our best.
The wind is fair, and you must know,
Sam did ashore to Greenwich go;
A steady breeze, the river clear,
We went along -- had naught to fear.
At night we brought up in Sea-Reach,
Furl’d sails, and set the anchor watch;
Next morning, before break of day,
The mate knock’d out to heave away.
The wind north-west, and a strong breeze,
By a reef we did our topsails ease;
The wind continuing still the same,
At night to Yarmouth Roads we came.
And, when a-breast of Caister Rails,
We brought her up and furled sails;
We have been here now a week to-day,
The wind’s come fair, we’re under weigh.
We have had a most unhappy time,
Which I can scarce describe by rhyme;
The beef! the beef! -- Oh sad disaster!
Is the constant topic of our master.
The cook in troubled waters swims,
He is watched as he the kettle skims;
The mate, poor man, the Lord preserve him,
For if he don’t, I think he’ll starve him.
Us fore-mast Johns, we have to fight,
And still for breakfast not a bite;
In the half-deck, when altogether,
We are discontentat wind and weather.
Some overhaul their chests to see
How stands their stocks of sugar and tea;
Our stocks of tobacco too, we fear,
Will soon be out if we lie here,
Each man a sovereign had in London,
The place that sailors are so fond on;
And some that lead a regular life,
Has got goods stocks to please his wife.
And some there is that has got none,
And still the sovereign is gone;
We have passed the Float, and seen the Spurn,
Flambro’-Head will come in turn.
Our captain now seems better pleas’d,
The wind’s at south, the pinch is eas’d;
He does expect, if all goes right,
She will be down to-morrow night.
Well, I’m thankful now we’re here at last,
At Fairless’Crane we made her fast;
And will be there, I make no doubt,
Until the ballast is all out.
When that will be I need not mind,
Another ship I must try to find;
To-morrow the wages will be paid,
And I’ll bid adieu to the COAL TRADE
ADDRESS TO SEAMEN
TO THE RISING YOUTH
Those who have used the sea, and have attained the age of sixty or seventy years,
must have observed a very great declension in all orders of seamen, both with respect
to morals and discipline.
Few ship owners made insurance on policy, and such as did seldom insured half the
If they saw any occasion to reprove their mates, they did not do it in the presence of
amount of their interest. -- Masters at that time observed a respectable and dignified
conduct, for though they slept less, and walked the deck more than any of the crew,
when the ship was at sea, they seldom entered into any unnessesary conversation
with the sailors; their mates were their confidants and to them they committed the
entire management of the ship while in port, or in a roadstead at anchor.
The oldest apprentice had a sort of delegated authority over his fellow servants,
and each one had some part of the ship’s stores under his particular care, which he was
bound to have in readiness whenever called for; instead of blows or abusive language the
mates contrived to substitute shame and degradation, by assigning mean offices to such
as were last in turning out, or were otherwise backward or unhandy in doing their duty;
such as sweeping the decks, cleaning the boat, &c, to avoid which the writer has fresh
in his recollection the many hard races he has run (upon the mate knocking all hands out)
to be among the first at the windlass palls.
To such discipline and subordination must be attributed the smallness of the number of
ships then lost, compared with what now happens, making every allowance for the increase
It is lamentable to think how ships are now thrown away. With sea winds and hazy
weather, we see them keeping near the land, and grappling for harbours, by which many,
with their crews, are lost; when at such times, by keeping the sea a few days longer, they
might have prevented such disaster; but what is more astonishing -- a master who loses his
ship through ignorance or carelessness, finds little difficulty in obtaining command of
another, without receiving any stigma from the public or any apparent contrition on his
To bring seamen back to that state of vigilance and care so conspicuous in their forefathers,
is the design of this address; and the writer enjoys no small degree of satisfaction in the
consideration that his plans (some years since executed) for lights in Hasbro’ Gatt, and at
the Goodwin and Sunk Sands, have been the means, under Providence, of preventing the
loss of many of their lives.
As the future prosperity or calamity of this country will very much depend on the virtues
or vices of the rising generation, the writer hopes he need not apologize for earnestly
exhorting them to stem the strong current of luxury and dissipation of the present day.
A growing contempt of religion and good morals seems to pervade the far greater part
of mankind; and unless a very considerable reformation takes place, inevitable ruin will be
Without religion there can be no solid virtue or good morals -- no true honour. All the
apparent good actions of bad men spring from mean and selfish motives; that ferocity
called courage (too often kept up by artificial means) is, in such men, like that of animals
devoid of reason; hence their commands are boisterous, fickle, and confused; in that state of
mind there is great danger of their issuing orders the reverse of what the should be.
Good men incounter difficulties and dangers with rational courage; and such as are
commanders, give their orders in a calm, cheerful, dispassionate manner, and thair
example animates and encourages all that sail with them.
The religion recommended to all (and of which all in every situation are capable)
consists in sentiments ofpiety, and in reflections on the power and providence, and
goodness of God, and in actions corresponding therewith; better expressed by the
apostle Paul, in his letter to Titus:--
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto
himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The above quotation contains an epitome, or abridgement of the Christian religion.
Such sentiments, and such conduct, would give youg men (who have nothing to depend on
but their own merit) the fairest chance of preferment; and if it has been their loss to have had
parents who either could not or would not give them a suitable education, they will have many
opportunities of improvement while at sea or in ports.
The famous circumnavigator, Captain Cook, served his apprenticeship in the coal and
coasting trade, and acquired almost all his knowledge of books after he went to sea: he
was a striking instance of the power of emulation, united with sobriety and an ardent
application; his example is worthy the imitation of every seaman.
Attached to the end paper of the chapbook was the below extract from "Laws relating to British seamen"
It should be borne in mind that the "penalty" of £25 in 1830 would be of around £2000 in 2015 so the penalties were not small.
The master shall require each of his crew to sign agreement before he proceeds to sea, under penalty of ten pounds for each seaman, which agreement is to be read over by the person signing, or read to him, under penalty of five pounds.
The master of vessels trading foreign is to deposit with the collector, at his port of destination in Great Britain, a copy of the agreement, or if employed in the fisheries on the coast, or in the coasting trade of Great Britain, or making regular voyages to the island of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, or to the continent of Europe, between the Elbe and Brest, the owner shall, within ten days from the 30th June and the 31st December in each year, deposit with the collector a true copy of the agreement, under penalty of fifty pounds.
No agreement shall be valid that contains any article to prevent a seaman’s recovery of wages earned, or in any way contrary to the provisions of the act.
Seamen refusing to join the ship after signing the agreement, may be committed to the House of Correction by any justice of the peace.
Seamen absenting themselves from the ship before her cargo is discharged, or neglecting their duty, forfeit certain portions of their wages.
Persons harbouring seamen after signing agreement, forfeit ten pounds; nor shall any debt above five shillings be recoverable against such seamen till voyage is concluded; nor any defects be detained for any debt due.
Neglecting to pay wages when due, forfeits two days’ pay for every day neglected, or refusing immediate payment without cause, forfeit £5No assignment or sale of wages, made prior to earning thereof, shall be valid.
Every seaman, on his discharge- shall be entitled to a certificate of his service; any refusal, without sufficient cause forfeits five pounds.
Wages not exceeding £20 to be recovered before a magistrate.
The crew of any vessel sold out of his Majesty’s dominions,shall be sent back to the port they were originally shipped at, Unless the crew shall consent to the contrary in writing, before a British consul at the place.
Ships from the United Kingdom shall keep a supply of medicines on board.
Registrar of Merchant Seamen’s office shall be at the Customs House, London.
A registration list, extracted from the muster-roll of the ships’ crew, (required to be kept by Act 4 and Act 5 Wm. 4, cap. 52) is to be delivered to the collector at the time of reporting the ship’s arrival from a foreign voyage, or if employed in the fisheries on the coast, or in the coasting trade of Great Britain, or in voyages to the island of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, or to the continent of Europe, between the Elbe and Brest, the registration list is to be delivered within twenty-one days after the 30th June and 31st December in each year; penalty for neglect, twenty-five pounds.
When any vessel is lost or sold while absent from the United Kingdom, a list as before mentioned, shall be transmitted to the registrar as soon as possible, or within twelve months, under penalty of £25.
Consuls abroad are to take charge of effects of seamen dying otherwise than on board a British ship
Overseers may bind healthy boys, if not under 13 years of age, apprentices to the sea-service, and five pounds to be paid to the master, to be expended in necessary sea clothing and bedding. All indentures and assignments to be registered, if within the limits of the port of London, with the Registrar at the Custom House, or if elsewhere, with the collecter at the port.
Every vessel of 80 tons, and under 200, is required to have on board one apprentice; 200, and under 400, two apprentices; 400, and under 500, three apprentices; 500, and under 700, four apprentices; 700, and upwards, five apprentices, or forfeit ten pounds for each apprentice so deficient; each of whom shall, at the period of their being bound, have been under 17 years of age, and bound for a term of four years at least.
Apprentices not to enter his Majesty’s service without consent of the master.
Master not to discharge or leave behind, by reason of sickness or otherwise, any of his crew, or any of his Majesty’s colonies, or elsewhere abroad, without certificate in writing from the functionaries of the place.
Seamen entering his Majesty’s service to be entitled to the full amount of wages due, together with their clothes and effects they may have on board, and no agreement shall be made to the contrary.
On the arrival at a foreign port where there is a British consul, the agreement with the ship’s crew shall be immediately deposited with him, and returned to the master without any fee, on leaving the port -- penalty for neglect twenty-five pounds; and any seaman shipped at a foreign port shall be certified by such consul on the agreement, under penalty of twenty-five pounds for every seaman shipped contrary thereto.
The master shall produce his muster-roll and agreement to any commisioned officer of his Majesty’s ships requiring a sight thereof, who may muster the crew and passengers to see the laws have been duly complied with: penalty for every refusal, neglect or obstruction, twenty-five pounds; refusing the same to the registrar, or his assistants, or collectors, or other officers of customs, or to their taking oof either or both, penalty fifty pounds.
Penalties recoverable by information, and in no case to be reduced below half the amount stated; one half the amount recovered to be paid the informer.
By 3 and 4 Wm. 4, cap. 52, Depositing a false manifest, or uttering any bill of lading purporting to be for the goods which were not bona fide shipped and signed for as expressed in bill lading, penalty £100.
Act 5 and 6 Wm. 4, cap. 24, enacts that all seafaring men voluntarily entering his Majesty’s navy, shall be entitled to discharge after five years’ service.
By Act 1 and 3 Victoria, cap. 113, the registered owners of British vessels, which may be lost, or otherwise prevented from returning to the port to which she may belong, are required, immediately on obtaining such knowledge, to give notice thereof, in writing, to the collector or comptroller of customs at the port of registry; and further, if any British registered vessel shall be absent from the port of registry for the space of three years, the registered owners shall give notice in writing, in like manner, stating the cause of such absence, or forfeit for any neglect the sum of five pounds.