The Flying Cloud

My name is Edward Hollander, as you may understand,
I was born in the city of Waterford in Erin's lovely land,
When I was young and in my prime, and beauty on me shone,
My parents doted on me, I being their only son.

My father bound me to a trade in Waterford's fair town,
He bound me to & cooper there, by the name of William Brown.
I served my master faithfully for eighteen months or more,
Till I shipped on board of the Ocean Queen, belonging to Tramore.

When we came unto Bermuda's isle, there I met with Captain Moore,
The commander of the Flying Cloud, hailing from Baltimore,
He asked me if I'd ship with him, on a slaving voyage to go,
To the burning shores of Africa, where the sugar cane does grow.

It was after some weeks' sailing we arrived off Africa's shore,
And five hundred of these poor slaves, my boys, from their native land we bore.
We made them walk in on a plank, and we stowed them down below;
Scarce eighteen inches to a man was all they had to go.

The plague and fever came on board, swept half of them away;
We dragged their bodies up on deck and hove them in the sea.
It was better for the rest of them if they had died before,
Than to work under brutes of planters in Cuba for ever more.

It was after stormy weather we arrived off Cuba's shore,
And we sold them to the planters there, to be slaves for ever more.
For the rice and the coffee seed to sow beneath the broiling sun,
There to lead a wretched, lonely life till their career was run.

It's now our money is all spent, we must go to sea again,
When Captain Moore he came on deck and said unto us men,
"There is gold and silver to be had if with me you'll remain,
And we'll hoist the pirate flag aloft, and we'll scour the Spanish Main."

We all agreed but three young men who told us them to land,
And two of them was Boston boys, the other from Newfoundland.
I wish to God I'd joined those men and went with them on shore,
Than to lead a wild and reckless life, serving under Captain Moore.

The Flying Cloud was a Yankee ship of five hundred tons or more;
She could outsail any clipper ship hailing out of Baltimore.
With her canvas white as the driven snow, and on it there's no specks,
And forty men and fourteen guns she carried on her decks.

It's oft I've seen that gallant ship, with the wind abaft her beam,
With her royals and her stunsails set, a sight for to be seen,
With the curling wave from her clipper bow, a sailor's joy to feel,
And the canvas taut in the whistling breeze, logging fourteen off the reel.

We sank and plundered many a ship down on the Spanish Main,
Caused many a wife and orphan in sorrow to remain;
To them we gave no quarter, but gave them watery graves,
For the saying of our captain was, that dead men tell no tales.

Pursued we were by many a ship, by frigates and liners too,
Till at last a British man-oʻ-war, the Dungeness (?), hove in view.
She fired a shot across our bow, as we sailed before the wind,
Then a chainshot cut our mainmast down, and we fell far behind.

Our crew they beat to quarters as she ranged up alongside,
And soon across our quarter-deck there ran a crimson tide.
We fought till Captain Moore was killed and twenty of our men,
Till a bombshell set our ship on fire, we had to surrender then.

It's next to Newgate we were brought, bound down in iron chains,
For the sinking and the plundering of ships on the Spanish Main.
The judge he found us guilty, we were condemned to die;
Young men, a warning by me take, and shun all piracy.

Then fare you well, old Waterford, and the girl that I adore;
I'll never kiss your cheek again, or squeeze your hand no more.
For whiskey and bad company first made a wretch of me;
Young men, a warning by me take, and shun all piracy.

From Roll and Go by Joanna Carver Colcord (1924)