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Now, if you want a merchant ship to sail the sea at large
We'll not have any trouble if ye have a good discharge,
Signed by the Board o' Trade an' ev'rything exact,
For there's nothin' done on a Limejuice ship contrary to the Act.

So haul, boys, yer weather main brace an' ease a-way yer lee
Hoist jibs an' tops'ls lads an' let the ship go free,
Hurrah, boys, hurrah! We'll sing this Jubilee,
Damn and bugger the Navy, boys, A merchant ship for me!

Now when ye join a merchant ship ye'll hear yer Articles read.
They'll tell ye of yer beef an'pork, yer butter an' yer bread,
Yer sugar, tea an' coffee, boys, yer peas an' beans exact,
Yer limejuice an' vinegar, boys, according to the Act.

No watch an' watch the first day out, according to the Act.
Ten days out we all lay aft to get our limejuice whack.
Fetch out her handy billy, boys, and clap it on the tack,
For we gonna set the mains'l, oh, according to the Act.

Its up the deck, me bully boys, with many a curse we go,
Awaiting to hear eight bells struck that we might go below.
Eight bells is struck, the watch is called, the log is hove exact;
Relieve the wheel an' go below, according to the Act.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: S Hugill, 1994, Shanties from the Seven Seas,Mystic Seaport Museum, Conn.

Stan Hugill wrote:

The Merchant Shipping Act came out in the year 1894, and in it was laid down the amount of food, water, etc., Sailor John was allowed when on shipboard. This doling out of rations was known to John as "Pound and Pint". The Act also covered fines and punishments for delinquent mariners, such as "For concealing Knuckledusters, Slung-shot, sword-stick, etc. 5s. for each day of concealment', and many commandments and regulations in similar strain. But the item around which the sarcastic song was built was also the origin of the Yanks calling English sailors "Limejuicers." This was the daily issuing of limejuice to British crews when they had been a certain number of days at sea.

My version of the song is partly that of my father and partly that of a shipmate, Arthur Spencer. The tune is also to be heard in Nova Scotia, the song being one about "Sauerkraut and bully" sung in the Lunenburg dialect.

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