Grace Anderson        [A Tar for all Weathers]            SA1974.07.1

The words of this song appear to have come from the pen of the musician and theatre proprietor Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) who composed numerous patriotic songs of sea and war and whose music stayed popular for decades after his death.  The text was often printed in small collections such as The Universal Songster (vol iii, London 1826) and among the earliest was The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany (1793. vol.ii, p. 91).  This strong modal melody that Grace sings is not Dibdin’s tune but one that is possibly far older and more a part of oral tradition than any songs performed in the fashionable London theatres during Dibdin’s time.   (Roud index no. 25912).

We lows’d from the Downs in the Nancy,
My boys how she smack’d through the breeze!
She’s the best sailing ship to my fancy
That ever did sail the salt seas.
So farewell to the fair white cliffs of Britain,
Our girls and our dear native shore
For if some hard rock she should split on,
We’ll never see them any more.

But sailors are born to all weathers,
Great guns blow you high, blow you low,
When duty binds us all together,
And where the gale drives we must go.

As we entered the Gut of Gibraltar
I verily thought she would sink,
For the winds there all seemed for to alter,
And she reeled just as tho’ she were drunk.
The squall blew our mainsail to shivers,
‘Helm a-weather’, th’old hoarse bosun cries ;
‘Brace the foreyards, my lads, see she quivers,
As through the rough tempest she flies.’

But sailors are born to all weathers,  etc

 The gale came on furious and faster,
And black as the check [?] was the sky,
When truly a doleful disaster
Befell three poor seamen and I.
Ben Buntline, Bill Shroud, and Dick Handsail,
By a blast that came furious and hard,
Just while we were furling the mainsail,
Was every soul swept from the yard.

But sailors are born for all weathers, etc…

Poor Ben, Bill and Dick called “pescari!”,    [peccavi]
While I, at the risk of my neck,
As they sank down in peace to Old Davy,
Caught a rope, and so landed on deck.
But, what would you have? We were stranded,
And out of a fine jolly crew
Of three hundred that sail’d, safely landed
But I, and I think, twenty-two.

For sailors are born for all weathers, etc…

But now for so long have I tarried
Another guess way set the wind,
But to England I came to get married
To a lass that was comely and kind
But whether for joy or vexation
We know not for what we were born
Perhaps I may find a kind station,
Perhaps I may touch at Cape Horn.

But sailors are born to all weathers, etc…