The Bold Princess Royal

(The Fair Princess Royal; The Fourteenth of February)

On the fourteenth of April we sailed from the strand
In the bold Princess Royal, bound to Rio Grande.
We had not left the shore more than one day or two
A man from the main-top cried, "Sail ho in view."

She came bearing down on us with sail set so high;
On her main topmast black colors did fly.
"If it should be a pirate what are we going to do?
She'll give us a broadside, she'll soon heave us to!"

She came bearing down on us with sail set so neat;
With a loud-speaking trumpet to us he did speak.
Our captain jumped on deck and answered him so,
"I'm out from Gibraltar bound to Callao! "

"Back your maintops'l, heave your ship to!
I am a close pirate, I've a message for you."
"I'll back my maintops'l, I'll heave my ship to,
But 'twill be in some harbor, not alongside of you!"

We shook [out?] our close reefs, spread topgallant sails also;
With royals and skysails from the pirate we did go.
He chased us the whole day but held us no play
He brailed in the spanker and then bore away.

Now, all my brave boys, since the pirate has gone,
Here's a cask of good whiskey, another of rum.
Go down to your hammocks, boys; there drink till day,
For the bold Princess Royal from the pirate sailed away!

Version I
From Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman by William Main Doerflinger (1951, '72, '91)

On the fourteenth of February we sailed from the land
On the bold Princess Royal bound for Newfoundland.
We had forty brave seamen in the ship's company
And boldly from Yarmouth to the westward steered we.

Now, we had not been sailing past days two or three,
When the lookout at our foremast strange sails he did see.
That came a-bearing down on us for to see what we were
And under his mizzen black colours he wore.

“Our Lord!” cried our captain, “What shall us do now?
For here comes a bold pirate to rob us, I know.”
“Oh no!” cried our first mate, “That shall not be so.
We will let out our reef, boys, and away from him go.”

But then this bold pirate, he hove alongside,
With a loud-speaking trumpet, “Whence come you?” he cried,
Our captain being aft, me boys, he answered him so:
“We come from old Yarmouth and we're bound for Peru.”

So it's, “Let out your course sails and bring your ship to,
For I have a long letter for to send there by you.”
“I know,” cried our first mate, “That will not be so.
That will be in some old harbor, not alongside of you.”

So he chased us to the windward most of that live long day,
And he chased us to the westward but he couldn't make no way.
And he fired shots all after us but none did prevail
And the bold Princess Royal soon showed him her tail.

“Our good Lord!” cried our captain, “That old pirate he is gone
Go you down to your grog, boys, go you down, everyone.
Go you down to your grog, me boys, and be of good cheer,
While the bold Princess has sea-room, brave boys, never fear.”

As sung by Peter Bellamy