GaspeeVirtual Archives
by Michael J. Moakler
Found in the Gaspee Days Committee archives, cut from an unknown publication c1990
With the sun aloft and the March wind soft,
And the King's Jack at her mast'ead,
She had easy way into Gansett Bay
While the morning breezes lasted.

For a hundred years there were scanty fears
Of the Customs' interference,
And a British ship had a welcome slip
And a friendly wave of clearance.

But in sixty-three came the King's decree
That his taxes were neglected,
And the Gaspee's role had a hated goal
Which her mast'ead Jack reflected.

Now the men of tax had been very lax,
So the Gansett ships were smuggling.
Breaking unjust laws was a sacred cause
To a country small and struggling.

The molasses drum and the cask of rum
Had its hated sum of duty,
And the vessel's store from a foreign shore
Paid its toll of English booty.

"Shall we pay their ilk for a bolt of silk?
It's unjust and idiotic!"
So they plied their trade with the tax unpaid,
Feeling brave and patriotic!

It was queer enough to be taxed for snuff
That was bought with pine tree shilling.
It was more than daft, sailing one's own craft,
To be faced with English billing!

And the Gansett shore was a school for war,
And the Rhody men were learning
That the Gaspee's sail, with its pert red tail,
Was a target fit for burning!

"Ay, the taxman's spoil is a smarting boil
On the arse of Narragansett!"
It was time, indeed, as they all agreed,
For the Rhody men to lance it!

They were wary, though, of so great a foe,
For the King had loyal minions.
And for tavern peers who had Tory ears
They were chary with opinions.

So when ale flowed free in safe company,
And the mood was right for boasting,
There was loud surmise that for Rhody's size
She could take the prize for coasting!

"Let the asses bray all along the Bay
We're like toy boats in a basin.
Name the British craft, square or fore-'n-aft,
That can catch us in the chasin'.
"Ships five-hundred strong are an able throng
When it comes to navigation,
And two thousand crew make a weighty few
In so scant a population!"

Then in sixty-four, off the Newport shore,
When the St. John dropped her anchor,
She would pull her hook for a vexing look,
Whether skiff or fishing banker.

So they planned a wrack of her pert red Jack,
But the Squirrel came to back her.
And with wives and sons under English guns,
It were folly to attack her!

Now that self-same year came the.Maidstone near,
And the people, never fearing,
Hauled her longboats clean to the court-house green
And a bonfire set to cheering!

But the coals of hate from the Maidstone's fate
Were too hot to let them dock 'er.
With her boats afire on a Common pyre,
She was sent to Davy's locker!

And of British rigs, be they sloops or brigs,
There was none to court disaster
Like that Gaspee one, with her Duddingston
As her overbearing master.

He would confiscate any farmer's freight
And would turn it into scow rot.
"To my warning shout, you will turn about,
Or I'll breeze you with a bow shot!"

(To his court of drum came a load of rum,
But King George's fawning spaniel
Would at length deplore that his stolen store
Bore the name of Greene's Nathaniel!)

Now a packet ship left her Newport slip,
With Ben Lindsay as her skipper.
But a sternsheet chase "is a long, long chase,"
And he set his sails to slip 'er.

On a spit of sand off the Namquit land,
There the Rhody men were learning
That the Gaspee's sail, with its pert red tail,
Was a target fit for burning!

There the taxman's spoil, there the smarting boil
On the arse of Narragansett,
There they all agreed it was time indeed
For the Rhody torch to lance it.

Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 11/2005    Moakler.html