Straight Foreign Shore (MacEdward Leach)

As we have sailed down the straight foreign shore,
Where cannons do rattle and loud billows roar,
We spied a lofty admiral's ship
came ploughing o'er the main,
Which caused us to rise up our topsails again.

Oh, boys! Let us be lucky. Oh, boys! Let us be true,
To face our own enemy, sure we must pursue;
If they should overtake us out on the ocean wide,
Without hesitation give them a broadside.

Oh, broadside for broadside,
as good as we could send,
To sink one another it was our whole intent;
The very second broadside our captain he got slain,
And this damsel she stepped up
in his place to remain.

They fought for three hours in a battle severe,
There scarce was a man on board
could hand reef or steer;
We scarce had a man on board could fire off a gun,
While the blood through our scupper holes
like water did run.

Oh, quarters! Oh quarters!
Those French dogs did cry,
No quarters! No quarters! This damsel she replied;
You have the best of quarters that I can you afford,
You may fight, sink, or die, b'ys, or jump overboard.

Oh, now she is returning to old England with speed,
The King he did not know his own true love indeed;
Nor she did not make herself known unto him,
Till she tied up her ship, me b'ys,
and paid off her men.

Oh, now she' s going to be married,
the truth we will make known,
The King he do allow her ten dozen pounds in gold;
The Queen she do allow her
ten thousand pounds a year
Because she had fought in a battle severe.

####.... Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Female Warrior (Pretty Polly) [Laws N4] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Female Captain, printed by an unknown publisher without a date, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 16(93a) ....####

Collected in 1951 from an unidentified singer in St Vincent's, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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