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Bill Thayer

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The Tar's Substitute for Grog

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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Doubling the Cape
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p70  Eau de Cologne, or the Novel Beverage

Our ancient poets sung the praise

Of nectar and of wine,

And made us believe their influence

Was god‑like and divine;

But I'll embrace another theme,

A novel one I own:

In random verse I now chaunt forth

The praises of cologne.

Eau de Cologne, 'tis you I mean,

The toilet's ornament;

What fribbling exquisite on shore

Without you is content;

Yet 'mongst the fashionable throng

You're not adored alone,

On board our ship your name is held

In high repute, cologne.

Yes, our famed frigate's hardy crew,

Whilst ploughing the stormy sea,

Found out but a few days ago

Your worth and quality;

And many a dollar was laid out,

For which they did not moan,

And round the purser's room flock'd crowds

Purchasing you, cologne.

Although our ship was off Cape Horn,

The billows mountain high,

Yet 'spite of all the tempest's force,

Cologne was all the cry;

And 'mongst our frigate's jolly crew,

I'm certain there were none

That did not give their meed of praise

To you, all‑famed cologne.

It may be asked, what was the cause

This was in such demand;

Perhaps you think they used it

As the dandies do on land!

p71 Oh no, indeed; our hardy tars

So foppish had not grown:

The fact is they made first-rate punch

Out of the dear cologne.

Some days before the grog-money

Was to the ship's crew paid,

And till they'd reach their destined port,

Each dollar by was laid;

But when the news of this dear stuff

Around the ship had flown,

Each monk‑bag, it was opened wide,

Purchasing you, cologne.

You might around the purser's room

An eager group now see,

With glittering silver in their hands,

And faces full of glee;

With voice quite low, that it might reach

The steward's ear alone,

They cry, "come quick, here is the cash,

Let me have some cologne."

But this fountain it was soon stop'd up,

'Twas said it was all gone;

But the fact is, that some certain folks

Had clapped a stopper on;

And when they heard the news, it turned

Each heart as cold as stone.

To think they could no more enjoy

Their dear-beloved cologne.

So here's success to every tar

That loves his glass in reason,

For sure a drop of stimulus

At sea is no great treason;

And who can tell but when this scrape

Some time has over blown,

Our tars may fix on other stuff

As good as old cologne.

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Page updated: 5 Oct 21