Young Dobbs

Paul Jones, the Pirate Captain, has left the Scottish strand, And turned his blood-stained bows across to emerald Ireland; The roaring Mull of Galloway and the Copelands he has pass’d, And, Bangor on his weather beam, has opened Loch Belfast; But from the frightened fishermen the pirate stood away, And bore down on the anchored Drake in Carrickfergus bay.

Young Arthur Dobbs that evening was welcomed home from sea, And friends and kinsmen with him were feasting merrily; When in there came a messenger, who breathless scarce could say- “Get up, get up, fair gentlemen, and save yourselves, I pray; For the death’s head and the cross-bones are floating on the bay; Paul Jones, the cruel pirate, is come us all to slay!”

“‘Tis heavy news you bring us, yet stay your idle fear,” Said young Dobbs, nothing daunted, “and fetch my spy-glass here: I’ll tell you who the stranger is when he stands out of the fog- Alack-a-day, and sure enough it is the bloody dog! And here be none to combat him, except the little drake, And ill-found as she is, I fear a short debate she’ll make.”

“For sick on shore, they tell me, is Stoddart, who commands, And he has left on board her but barely twenty hands; And what, without her captain, and what with such a crew, ‘Gainst Jones’s frigate full of rogues, will she be fit to do? And from the lumbering battery the fire will all be vain, Alas! unless God succour us, the Drake whe will be ta’en.

“But never shall the tale be told, that British ship of war Struck flag to ruffian pirate in sight of Irish shore, And gentlemen of Ireland stood idly looking on, While strength enough to strike a blow is in my father’s son! Come, gentlemen and kinsmen, who’ll volunteer with me To man the little sloop, and fight these robbers of the sea?”

Then up rose guest and kinsman about the festive board, And hastily they armed themselves with fowling-piece and sword; And soon across the castle green, and down the hill, a band Of gentle and of simple went crowding to the strand; Pulled out and boarded, one and all-ah! ’twas a goodly sight To see the little Drake stand out to give the pirate fight.

But though, as gentle seamen, they all well understood To trim and sail a pleasure-boat, as all good fellows should; Or with fowling piece upon the moor or pistol on the green, To bag their braces sportsmanlike, or hold their honor clean: Yet to the heavy metal they were strangers all, alas! And to fight a frigate seamanly it did their skill surpass.

Which when the swarthy villain saw, right scornfully he laughed, And hauled his broadside ‘thwart their bows, and raked them fore and aft; And at the next long salvo that into them he pour’d, Their main-mast he has shot away, and their mizen by the board; Till at the last, though manfully and long the landsmen fought her, The rudderless and mastless Drake lay wrecked upon the water.

And heaped about her silent guns-for, at the bloody post That each man held while living, he there gave up the ghost- Lay, soaked in sanguine uniform, the jackets of the blue, And the gay attire of gentry, and the homely hoddin too; And, doubled all across his gun upon the larboard bow, Lies Dobbs, the lit match in his hand-it cannot burn him now!

And now the British lion no longer from the mast May shake his tawny majesty abroad into the blast; He come, all torn and battle-grimed down from his chartered stand, The pirate captain jumps on board, his cutlass in his hand: He strikes it in the binnacle-“The ship is mine,” says he; “Rig up, my lads, a jury-mast, and let’s be off to sea.”

From Dublin University Magazine 1836