COAST OF HIGH BARBARY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • COAST OF HIGH BARBARY
    The first Barbary War lasted from 1801-1805 and it was the Marine Corps’ initial clash
    with outlaw barbarians. It is also how we got the phrase “shores of Tripoli” in the Marine
    hymn. The original ballad refers to two merchant vessels, The George Aloe, and The
    Sweepstake which were bound for Safee. The George Aloe anchored but the Sweepstake
    continued, being overtaken by a French ship. Her crew was thrown overboard. The
    George Aloe then pursued the French ship and defeated her. Though the French crew
    begged for mercy the English replied they would show them the same mercy that the
    French showed the crew of the Sweepstake.
    The ballad was given new words and experienced a resurgence of popularity in America
    between the years of 1795 and 1815 – when Barbary pirates were attacking American
    ships. America (and most other nations) paid tribute to the pirates until the government
    took action in 1801. The pirates were not completely defeated until 1815.
    There were two lofty ships
    From old England came
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    One was the Prince of Luther
    The other Prince of Wales
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    “Aloft there, aloft there”
    Our jolly boson cried
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    “Look ahead, look astern,
    Look to weather an’ a-lee”
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    “There’s naught upon the stern, sir
    There’s naught upon our lee
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    But there’s a lofty ship to wind’ard
    An’ she’s sailin’ fast and free”
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    “Oh hail her, oh hail her”
  • Our gallant captain cried
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    “Are you a man-o-war
    Or a privateer?” cried he
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    “Oh, I’m not a man-o-war
    Nor privateer,” said he
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    “But I am salt sea pirate
    All a-looking for me fee”
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    For Broadside, for broadside
    A long time we lay
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    ‘Til at last the Prince of Luther
    Shot the pirate’s mast away
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary
    “Oh quarter, oh quarter”
    Those pirates they did cry
    Blow high, blow low
    And so sail we
    But the quarter that we gave them
    Was we sank ’em in the sea
    All a-cruisin’ down the coast
    Of High Barbary