LINES TO MR. HODGSON
Written on Board the Lisbon Packet
Falmouth Roads, June 30, 1809
( First published 1830 )
The following lines were in a letter to Francis Hodgson as Byron
set sail on his first pilgrimage.
I have used the original wording from the letter, rather than the version used in later editions. )
Huzza ! Hodgson, we are going,
Our embargo's off at last;
Favourable breezes blowing
Bend the canvas o'er the mast.
From aloft the signal's streaming,
Hark ! the farewell gun is fired;
Women screeching, Tars blaspheming,
Tell us that our time's expired.
Here's a rascal
Come to task all,
Prying from the custom-house,
Not a corner for a mouse
Scrapes unsearched amid the racket,
Ere we sail on board the Packet.---
Now our boatmen quit their mooring,
And all hands must ply the oar;
Baggage from the quay is lowering,
We're impatient --- push from shore ---
"Have a care ! that Case holds liquor
"Stop the boat --- I'm sick --- oh Lord !
"Sick, Maam ! damme, you'll be sicker,
Ere you've been an hour on board.
Thus are screaming
Men & women
Gemmen, Ladies, servants, Jacks,
All are wrangling
Stuck together close as wax,
Such the genial noise and racket
Ere we reach the Lisbon Packet.
Now we've reached her, lo ! the Captain
Gallant Kidd commands the crew
Passengers now their berths are clapt in
Some to grumble, some to spew,
Heyday ! call you that a Cabin ?
Why tis hardly three feet square
Not enough to stow Queen Mab in,
Who the deuce can harbour there?
Who Sir? plenty
Did at once my vessel fill
Did they --- Jesus !
How you squeeze us
Would to God, they did so still,
Then I'd scape the heat & racket
Of the good ship, Lisbon Packet.
Note + Erratum ---
For "gallant" read "gallows" ---
Fletcher, Murray, Bob, where are you?
Stretched along the deck like logs
Bear a hand --- you jolly tar you !
Here's a rope's end for the dogs,
Hobhouse muttering fearful curses
As the hatchway down he rolls
Now his breakfast, now his verses
Vomits forth & damns our souls,
Here's a stanza
Help ! --- a couplet --- no, a cup
Of warm water,
What's the matter?
Zounds ! my liver's coming up,
I shall not survive the racket
Of this brutal Lisbon Packet ---
Now at length we're off for Turkey,
Lord knows when we shall come back,
Breezes foul, & tempests murkey,
May unship us in a crack,
But since life at most a jest is
As Philosophers allow
Still to laugh by far the best is,
Then laugh on --- as I do now,
Laugh at all things
Great & small things,
Sick or well, at sea or shore,
While we're quaffing
Let's have laughing
Who the Devil cares for more?
Save good wine, & who would lack it ?
Even on board the Lisbon Packet.
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