The Saucy Arethusa

Come, all ye jolly sailors bold,
Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould,
While British glory I unfold,
Hussah to the Arethusa!
She is a frigate tight and brave
As ever stemm'd the dashing wave:
Her men are staunch to their fav'rite launch,
And when the foe shall meet our fire,
Sooner than strike we'll all expire
On board the Arethusa!

'Twas in the spring fleet she went out,
The English Channel to cruise about,
When four French sail in show so stout
Bore down on the Arethusa.
The famed Belle Poule straight ahead did lie-
The Arethusa seems to fly,
Not a sheet or a tack
Or a brace did she slack:
Though the Frenchmen laughed and thought it stuff,
But they knew not the handful of men, how tough,
On board of the Arethusa.

On deck five hundred men did dance,
The stoutest they could find in France.
We with two hundred did advance
On board of the Arethusa.
Our captain hail'd the Frenchman, "Ho! "
The Frenchman then cried out " Hollo! "
"Bear down, d'ye see,
To our Admiral's lee."
"No, no," says the Frenchman, "that can't be."
"Then I must lug you along with me,"
Says the saucy Arethusa

The fight was off the Frenchman's land.
We forced them back upon the strand,
For we fought until not a stick would stand
Of the gallant Arethusa.
And now we've driven the foe ashore,
Never to fight with Britons more,
Let each fill a glass
To his fav'rite lass,
A health to the captain and officers true,
And all that belong to the jovial crew
On board of the Arethusa.



From Sea Songs and Shanties by W. B. Whall (1910, 1912, 1913, 1920)