The Lost Leader

["Capt. KETTLE", now the Rev. Sir OWEN KETTLE, K.C.B., has definitely

retired into private life, greatly regretted by all who knew him.]

LATTER-DAY DRAKE (with a liberal dash of the late lamented KIDD),

Long have I followed your bright career, thrilled at the deeds you did;

Long have I watched you pace your bridge, resolute, daring, smart;

You were a friend in my every mood – and now we have got to part.

Long have I helped you range the globe through many a varied scene,

Through troublous times afloat and ashore, keeping your ticket clean.

From Floridan creek to the Congo's stream, in a hundred stirring frays,

You taught me all I shall ever know of the sea and the sailor's ways.

Ah, the salt-sea smell, and the hiss of the foam, and the throb of the whirring screw!

Oft have we battled side by side with a villainous, cut-throat crew;

And now with a gibe and an acid sneer, and now with a well-judged shot,

Taught them exactly who was who, precisely what was what.

To run a blockade or to poach a pearl – those were the jobs for us;

Our motto a maximum of work with a minimum of fuss.

The foe might rage or the engines fail, the ship might break in two,

With you at my side I was undismayed, I knew you would see me through.

You were not built for the joys of peace, your business is on the sea;

The bridge of a tramp is the place for you, my reverend K.C.B.

You were not born to be slothful, sleek, a payer of tax and rate.

Leave such a life to lesser men – yours is a nobler fate.

Out once more in your rakish craft, travel the wide world through;

Girdle the earth from shore to shore, from China to Peru.

Where glittering icebergs rear their peaks, where the tropical sun-dart flames,

Let the welkin ring with your pistol's crack, let it roar with your crisp "By James!"

First published in Punch, March 4, 1903.


Click the above image for a copy of The Adventures of Captain Kettle.