Lines to Mr. Hodgson Written on Board the Lisbon Packet

Original Text: 
George Gordon, lord Byron, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, ed. Thomas Moore (London: J. Murray, 1830). E-10 2736 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2      Our embargo's off at last;
3Favourable breezes blowing
4      Bend the canvass o'er the mast.
5From aloft the signal's streaming,
6      Hark! the farewell gun is fir'd;
7Women screeching, tars blaspheming,
8      Tell us that our time's expir'd.
9           Here's a rascal
10           Come to task all,
11      Prying from the custom-house;
12           Trunks unpacking
13           Cases cracking,
14      Not a corner for a mouse
15'Scapes unsearch'd amid the racket,
16Ere we sail on board the Packet.
17Now our boatmen quit their mooring,
18      And all hands must ply the oar;
19Baggage from the quay is lowering,
20      We're impatient--push from shore.
21"Have a care! that case holds liquor--
22      Stop the boat--I'm sick--oh Lord!"
23"Sick, ma'am, damme, you'll be sicker,
24      Ere you've been an hour on board."
25           Thus are screaming
26           Men and women,
27      Gemmen, ladies, servants, Jacks;
28           Here entangling,
29           All are wrangling,
30      Stuck together close as wax.--
31Such the genial noise and racket,
32Ere we reach the Lisbon Packet.
33Now we've reach'd her, lo! the captain,
34      Gallant Kidd, commands the crew;
35Passengers their berths are clapt in,
36      Some to grumble, some to spew.
37"Hey day! call you that a cabin?
38      Why 't is hardly three feet square;
40      Who the deuce can harbour there?"
41           "Who, sir? plenty--
42           Nobles twenty
43      Did at once my vessel fill."
44           "Did they? Jesus,
45           How you squeeze us!
46      Would to God they did so still:
47Then I'd 'scape the heat and racket
48Of the good ship, Lisbon Packet."
50      Stretch'd along the deck like logs--
51Bear a hand, you jolly tar, you!
52      Here's a rope's end for the dogs.
54      As the hatchway down he rolls,
55Now his breakfast, now his verses,
56      Vomits forth--and damns our souls.
57           "Here's a stanza
58           On Braganza--
59      Help!"--"A couplet?"--"No, a cup
60           Of warm water--"
61           "What's the matter?"
62      "Zounds! my liver's coming up;
63I shall not survive the racket
64Of this brutal Lisbon Packet."
65Now at length we're off for Turkey,
66      Lord knows when we shall come back!
67Breezes foul and tempests murky
68      May unship us in a crack.
69But, since life at most a jest is,
70      As philosophers allow,
71Still to laugh by far the best is,
72      Then laugh on--as I do now.
73           Laugh at all things,
74           Great and small things,
75      Sick or well, at sea or shore;
76           While we're quaffing,
77           Let's have laughing--
78      Who the devil cares for more?--
79Some good wine! and who would lack it,
80Ev'n on board the Lisbon Packet?


1] Assigned by Byron to "Falmouth Roads, June 30, 1809" and first published in Thomas Moore's Letters and Journals of Lord Byron (1830). The two-year journey about to begin included in its itinerary Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Albania, and formed the basis for the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
Hodgson: the Rev. Francis Hodgson, a good friend of Byron's youth. Back to Line
39] Queen Mab: the fairy queen whose minute size is celebrated by Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, I, iv, 53-94. Back to Line
49] Fletcher! Murray! Bob!: Byron's three servants. Back to Line
53] Hobhouse: J. C. Hobhouse, Byron's closest friend, who accompanied him on part of the journey. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
M. T. Wilson
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.484.