Will Watch

One morn when the wind from the northward blew keenly,
While sullenly roared the big waves of the main,
A famed smuggler, Will Watch, kissed his Sue, then
serenely took helm, and to sea boldly steered out again.
Will had promised his Sue that this trap, if well ended,
Should coil up his ropes, and he'd anchor on shore;
When his pockets were lined, why his life should be mended
The laws he had broken he'd never break more.

His sea-boat was trim—made her port—took her lading,
Then Will stood to sea, reached the offing, and cried,
"This night, if I've luck, furls the sails of my trading.
In dock I can lay—serve a friend too beside."
He lay to till night came on darksome and dreary,
To crowd every sail then he piped up all hands;
But a signal soon spied—'twas a prospect uncheerly,
A signal that warned him to bear from the land.

"The Philistines are out," cries Will, "we'll take no heed on't,
Attacked, who's the man that will flinch from his gun?
Should my head be blown off I shall ne'er feel the need on't,
We'll fight while we can ; when we can't, boys, we'll run."
Thro' the haze of the night a bright flash now appearing,
"Oh ho!" cries Will Watch, "the Philistines bear down.
Bear a hand, my tight lads, ere we think about sheering,
Our broadside pour in should we swim, boys, or drown."

'But should I be popped off, you, my mates left behind me,
Regard my last words, see 'em kindly obeyed.
Let no stone mark the spot, and, my friends, do you mind me.
Near the beach is the grave where Will Watch should be laid."
Poor Will's yarn was spun out—for a bullet next minute
Laid him low on the deck and he never spoke more;
His bold crew fought the brig while a shot remained in it,
Then sheered, and Will's hulk to his Susan they bore.

In the dead of the night his last wish was complied with,
To few known his grave and to few known his end;
He was borne to the earth by the crew that he died with;
He'd the tears of his Susan, the prayers of each friend.
Near his grave dash the billows, the winds loudly bellow,
Yon ash struck with lightning points out the cold bed
Where Will Watch, the bold smuggler, that famed lawless fellow,
Once feared — now forgot — sleeps in peace with the dead.

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