The Dutch in the Medway

1664-72 __Rudyard Kipling________________________

If wars were won by feasting,

  0r victory by song,

Or safety found in sleeping sound,

  How England would be strong!

But honour and dominion

  Are not maintained so.

They're only got by sword and shot,

  And this the Dutchmen know!


The moneys that should feed us

  You spend on your delight,

How can you then have sailor-men

  To aid you in your fight?

Our fish and cheese are rotten,

  Which makes the scurvy grow -

We cannot serve you if we starve,

  And this the Dutchmen know!


Our ships in every harbour

  Be neither whole nor sound,

And, when we seek to mend a leak,

  No oakum can be found;

Or, if it is, the caulkers,

  And carpenters also,

For lack of pay have gone away,

  And this the Dutchmen know!


Mere powder, guns, and bullets,

  We scarce can get at all;

Their price was spent in merriment

  And revel at Whitehall,

While we in tattered doublets

  From ship to ship must row,

Beseeching friends for odds and ends -

  And this the Dutchmen know!


No King will heed our warnings,

  No Court will pay our claims -

Our King and Court for their disport

  Do sell the very Thames!

For, now De Ruyter's topsails

  Off naked Chatham show,

We dare not meet him with our fleet -

  And this the Dutchmen know!

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