Young Chambers (Kenneth Peacock) score

music score

Come hear about young Chambers' boat, a boat with two ridge spars,
Well-fitted out for smuggling with her cabin full of jars;
To see her big long top-mast above her foremast head,
She looks just like some brigantine outrunning the blockade.

We boldly leaved St Peters, the wind it did blow fair,
We sailed for three long days and nights without a thought or care;
And passing by Green Island I think we'll have our grog,
Here comes the Lady Clover appearing out of the fog.

They fired three shots across us, a signal to heave to,
Our skipper stood on the round-house, scarce knowing what to do;
Our skipper stood on the round-house with the rum all in his cup.
"Hard on your tiller," our skipper he cried, "and let your boat come up."

They then la'nched out their long-boats, they boarded us like dogs,
Saying, "You're fitted for Bank fishery without a chart or log."
He said, "I've got my fishing clearance," young Chambers he did say,
"I don't require nothing else for here to Fortune Bay."

They fired their ropes around us, they fastened us secure,
And for the mouth of Harbour Breton for four long hours or more;
The wind sprang from the west'ard so violently did blow,
Here comes the Lady Clover, she's got a wreck in tow.

They carried us up to the jail-house, they readed down our case,
Saying, "Chambers you're a scandal, I can see it in your face;
We'll lock you now in jail, my boys, for four long months or more,
To feed you well on Injun meal and bread out of the store."

For butter and molasses we did not get a mite,
But an old broken checker-board to cheer us through the night;
Then at four o'clock in the morning we're looking out for day,
We're heaving out of our hammocks for a cup of switchel tea.

And now the switchel tea is out, we cannot get no more,
We chuck the tub against the pan behind the dungeon door;
And 'long comes the jailkeeper saying, "For that you'll get no more."
He turns around, he gives a frown, a padlock on the door.

And now we're out of jail, my boys, to St Peters we will steer,
We'll load her up with grog, my boys, and drink without a fear;
Here's a curse on those ten sons-o'-guns who brought me to the shore,
To feed me well on Injun meal and bread out of the store.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####
Collected in 1959 from Arthur Nicolle [1900-1971] of Rocky Harbour, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.897-898, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that smuggling liquor from the French island of St Pierre off Newfoundland's south coast has been a lucrative business for decades, especially during the days of American prohibition. Small operators like young Chambers do not bother with branded bottles; they bring their own empty jars and get them filled with alcohol or any bulk liquor the merchant happens to have on hand cheap. The 'switchel' tea the men get in jail is simply very weak tea unsweetened. It can also mean a mixture of cold water and molasses. The origin of this native smuggling ballad is unknown though it obviously comes from the south coast.


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