The Dreadnaught

This song was long associated with the repertoire of Cliff.  This Dreadnought, a clipper packet ship, is one of the best-known of these vessels.She was launched in New York in 1853 and sailed until she wrecked off Cape Horn in 1869. The melody is rather older than this tale and in the manner so common throughout the 18th and part of the 19th century, the melody would be reused for other lyrics as suited the singer. The melody is believed to be most noticably from a broadside ballad about a British naval vessel, “La Pique”, but in fact comes from the 18th century song, Derry Down; an English melody found in Chappell’s anthology titled, Popular Music Of The Olden Time. The true origins the tune, its variations, and its exact date of origin are obscure but it is known to have already been considered old by the 1770s.

The Dreadnought (Dreadnaught) usually did the run between New York and Liverpool, England, originally for the “Red Cross Line”. Samuel Samuels – her first master – was on record for having said, “She was built for hard usage and to make a reputation for herself and me and I intended that she should do her duty, or that we both should sink”. She was quite the success, it seems, and so became something of a legend during her time. In around 1863 her regular trip was changed to around Cape Horn and up to San Francisco. It was during one of these runs that she wrecked off Tiera del Fuego.

 

lt’s a saucy flash packet, a packet of fame,
She hails from New York and the Dreadnaught’s her name.
‘Cross the wild Western ocean, where the wild winds do blow.
She’s the Liverpool packet. Oh Lord, let her go!
Derry down, down, down derry down.

Now the Dreadnaught is hauling out of Waterloo Dock
And the boys and the girls to the pierhead do flock.
They give us three cheers as their tears down do flow.
She’s the Liverpool packet. Oh Lord, let her go!
Derry down, down, down derry down.

Now the Dreadnaught is lying in the River Mersey,
‘Waiting the Independerce to tow her to sea
Out ’round the Rock Light where them salt tides do flow.
Bound away in the Dreadnaught to the westward we’ll go!

Now the Dreadnaught’s a-howling down the wild lrish Sea,
Her passengers merry and with their hearts full of glee.
Her sailors like lions walk the decks to and fro.
She’s the Liverpool packet. Oh Lord, let her go !

Now the Dreadnaught is sailing the Atlantic so wide,
Where the high roaring seas roll along her black side.
With her sails taughtly set for the Red Cross to show ,
She’s the Liverpool packet. Oh Lord, let her go!

Now the Dreadnaught is crossing the Banks of Newfoundland.
Where the water’s so green and the bottom’s all sand.
The fishes of the ocean they swim to and fro,
She’s the Liverpool packet. Oh Lord, let her go!

And now she is lying off the Long Island Shore
Where the pilot will board us as he’s oft done before.
Fill away your main topsail! Board your main tack also.
She’s the Liverpool paeket. Oh Lord, let her go !

And now we’re arriving in old New York town.
We’re bound for the Bowery and let sorrows drown.
With our gals and our beer, boys, oh let the song now.
And drink to the Dreadnaught where’er she may go!

Here’s a health to the Dreadnaught and all her brave crew,
To bold Captain Samuels and his officers too.
You may talk of flash packets, Swallowtail and Black Ball,
But the Dreadnaught’s the flyer that outsails them all!