From The Sun, March 23, 1915. By Arthur Guiterman.
A BALLAD OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY
If I were a young middy in love with a girl, I would marry her if it broke up the whole navy. I would let nothing like that stand between me and the girl I loved.
—Secretary Josephus Daniels
It was just eight bells or about half past,
And our tea was in the process of solution,
When they piped all hands to the maintopmast
For to solemnize a naval execution.
An’ we heard the horns of the Horse Marines
An’ their boots drumming hollow on the planking
As they marched up a youth in his early teens
With manacles an’ fetter locks a-clanking.
Oh, they dragged him up, and I felt real bad
When I saw ’twas little Timothy the ensign,
An’ I knew that they meant for to hang the lad,
A proceeding what there wasn’t any sense in.
And our captain stern to the prisoner said,
“You will shortly be suspended from a gibbet,
For you’ve gone an’ went and a gal you’ve wed,
Which the articles especially prohibit!”
Oh, his gal runs up, so pale an’ sweet
(And she was a ravin’, tearin’ beauty!)
An’ she swooned for grief at the captain’s feet,
But he only muttered, “Seamen, do your duty!”
Oh, I wept big tears till my blouse was soaked,
For they tied a halter round the middy’s wishbone,
An’ the poor boy gulped, an’ the poor boy choked
As he might have been a-swallerin’ a fishbone.
Now we heard a shout an’ a whistle toot,
And orders come to anchor an’ to reef us;
An’ a man come aboard in a broadcloth suit
Which I seen was the eminent Josephus.
Oh, he stepped right up to the boy (poor chap!)
And sez he, “You’re a credit to the nation!
An’ you shan’t be hanged by no gold lace cap
For the breakin’ of a stupid regulation!
“For if I loved a gal an’ the gal loved me
I’d marry her in Afriky or Siam
If it wrecked every ship in the hull navee—
For that’s the sort of prairie chicken I am!
“An’ you shall cruise with your bride, you shall
Afar on the ocean wavy,
For I’ll make you a Lord High Admiral
If there’s any such position in the navy!”