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Bill Thayer

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The Grog Expended

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Life in a Man-of‑War

a Fore‑top-man

published by
Houghton Mifflin Company
Boston and New York

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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The Tar's Substitute for Grog
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p62  The Disappointed Tars

When from Brazil we sailed away,

All hearts were light, all spirits gay,

Joy beamed in every face,

And as our star-speck'd flag looked back,

Our frigate walked her foamy track

With dignity and grace.

With breeze auspicious on we flew,

The land soon dimm'd upon our view,

Our tars smiled with delight;

And many a wish and many a prayer

Was offered to the breezes fair,

By all on board that night.

And as we loosed each lofty sail,

And spread them to the favouring gale,

The work was done with glee;

For well we knew with this fair wind

We soon, with Heaven's assistance kind,

The Chilian shores would see.

Cape Horn's rough gales and bitter cold

Was now the theme of young and old

In every group about;

Each bag was overhauled with care,

To see what good warm clothes were there

To keep the chill blast out:

And as some garment met the view,

Which was by honoured age worn through,

The same was laid aside;

And quickly on the broken part,

With all a tailor's tact and art,

A strong patch was applied.

Our trim-built ship both fore and aft

Was snug as any other craft,

Both warm and water-tight;

p63 And our excellent commodore,

Inspected each deck o'er and o'er

To see that all was right.

The prosperous breeze continued strong,

"Old Ironsides" she moved along

With all her usual speed;

'Twas thought (an instance rarely met)

We'd round the Cape with stun-sails set,

But 'twas not so decreed:

For when we saw its chilling snows,

The spirit of the storm arose

To make us tribute pay;

And for some twenty days or more

We heard nought but the tempest's roar,

Which filled us with dismay. —

One luckless day amongst the crew

A vague report had somehow flew,

Which caused no little rout;

One mentioned he had heard, that day,

The captain of the main-hold say

That the whiskey was all out.

Quick then as lightning each one flew

To see if this dread news was true

What evil could be worse?

And every group you chanced to see,

Was lamenting this fatality

With many a bitter curse.

Cried one old tar with rugged brow,

"It is a clincher with us now;

I'd sooner stop my prog

Than to be forced, in this cold weather,

To stand the sleet and frost together

Without my regular grog.

"I've been in Uncle Sam's employ

Since I was quite a little boy,

This world well cruised about;

But in all my ramblings o'er and o'er

I never heard the like before

As the whiskey to give out.

 p64  "I'm sure our good old Commodore,

When we left the Brazilian shore,

Did not expect this evil;

And when he hears the story all,

I know there'll be a precious squall —

He'll raise the very devil."

"But," cries another standing by,

"It may for all be but a lie,

You know what yarns they spread;

Just wait — the dinner time is near,

And when the drum's dear roll you hear,

Don't say your hopes are fled."

"That may be true," another cried,

"For as I passed the starboard side

Upon the deck below,

I saw old Bungs with smiling face

Fixing the grog‑tub in its place,

And that's a good sign you know."

Assured by this they dropped each fear,

When hark! the dinner-pipe they hear;

All rushed together now

Towards the ladders, where they view

A dozen of the tippling crew

With sad and clouded brow.

"It is a case," they fiercely cry,

Whilst disappointment dims each eye,

"You need not go below;

For what you've drank this morn, I tell ye,

Is the last drop will warm your belly

This month to come or so."

"The whiskey's out," was now the sound,

That you might hear re‑echoed round

On every deck about;

And e'en the boys, they joined the throng,

And shouted as they moved along,

"Good God! the whiskey's out."

At supper time they reached their mess —

With looks quite haggard with distress,

They sat in silence down;

 p65  And 'stead of their former smiling brow,

Why every tippler's features now

Were saddened with a frown.

But soon this sadness wore away,

Again they joked with spirits gay,

And pleasure reigned once more;

And for this loss they did agree

To have a glorious drunken spree

When next they'd reach the shore.

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Page updated: 15 Aug 21