O we sailed to Virginia and thence to New York,
Where we watered our shipping and so weighed then all.
Full in view on the seas seven sail we did spy;
O we mann-ed our capstan and weighed speedily.
The first two we came up with were brigantine sloops;
We asked if the other five were as big as they looked,
But turning to windward as near as we could lie
We found they were French men-of-war crusing hard by.
We took our leave of them and made quick dispatch,
And then steered our course to the island of Vache,
But turning to windward as near as we could lie,
On the fourteenth of August ten sail we did espy.
They hoisted their pendants and their colours they spread,
And they hoisted their bloody flag on the main topmast head;
Then we hoisted our jack-flag at the mizen peak,
And so brought up our squadron in a line most complete.
O we drew up our squadron in a very nice line
And fought them courageous for four hours' time,
But the day being spent, boys, and night coming on,
We let them alone till the very next morn.
The very next morning the engagement proved hot,
And brave Admiral Benbow received a chain-shot.
O when he was wounded to his men he did say:
"Take me up in your arms, boys, and carry me away."
O the guns they did rattle and the bullets did fly,
While brave Admiral Benbow aloud for help did cry:
"Carry me to the cockpit and soon ease my smart;
If my men they should see me, 'twill sure break their heart."
And there Captain Kirby proved a coward at last,
And with Wade played at bopeep behind the main-mast;
And there they did stand, boys, and quiver and shake,
For fear that those French dogs their lives they should take.
The very next morning at break of the day
We hoisted our topsails and so bore away;
We bore to Port Royal where the people flocked much
To see Admiral Benbow carried to Kingston Town church.
Come all you brave fellows wherever you have been,
Let us drink a health to great George our king;
And another good health to the girls that we know,
And a third in remembrance of Admiral Benbow
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Source: Palmer, Roy (ed),(1986),Oxford Book of Sea Songs,Oxford, OUP
Roy Palmer, the editor, wrote the following reference:
Text:Madden 23/689. Tune:Fielding's Vocal Enchantress, 1783, p 108. Campbell IV, 257-86. 'Admiral Benbow':Firth, p 149. Clements, p41.
Roud: 3141 (Search Roud index at VWML)
Related Songs: Admiral Benbow (structural) Praties They Grow Small,The (structural)