A wretch, Doc Johnson labels me
for making use of natural skill,
for buying goods with honest coin
and selling them to folk with same.
For lugging lace from fine Calais
through black of night and stormy seas,
for shipping leaves to smoke or drink
against the threat of Cutter's fast.
And some may say this life's a breeze
and I'll not deny it has its thrill,
and nettin’ pilchards pays its way
but hellish seas treat both the same.
A merchant man is what I am
and taxed to pay for wars long fought
by Crown and aristocracy
without a thought, without consent.
To build this life's a crime you say
but truth be told it seems to me,
a saint or sinner's lot is cast
dependent on his family's class
A smuggler's cloak you clothe me in,
a criminal by stroke of quill.
And yet my trade is free and fair
and not some Custom's revenue
But if I die a sailor's death
I'll count my blessin’s joyfully
my money made from painful toil
not stole from starving families.