Australian Folk Songs

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Lament On the Fate Of Sir J. Franklin And His Crews

You tender christians I pray attend,
To these few lines that I have penn'd,
Of Sir John Franklin and his brave band,
Who've perished far from their native land.


So listen now while I tell to you,
The fate of Franklin and his brave crew.

It's now fifteen years since he set sale,
With joyous hearts and a pleasant gale,
In frozen regions to cruise about
The north-west passage for to find out.

There was many sad and an aching heart,
As from their friends these brave men did part,
To plough their way o'er the raging main,
For fear they should ne'er return again.

When six dreary years they had been away,
Some other vessels without delay,
Were sent to search for the missing crews,
But, alas ! of them they could hear no news.

A gloomy mystery for nine long years,
Their wives and children has kept in tears,
In deepest anguish they did await,
The ship sent out to learn their fate.

Poor Lady Franklin in great despair,
In anguish wild she tore her hair,
Saying "Ten thousand pounds I'll give for news,
Of my loving Franklin and his brave crews."

The government in this present year,
Did pensions give to their families dear,
But Lady Franklin refused the grant,
Crying 'give me my husband, I no money want.'

At length sad tidings of this brave band,
Has reached the shores of their native land,
By which we hear they are all dead,
Tho' suffering much ere their souls had fled.

As through the frozen seas they pushed,
Their ships by blocks of ice were crushed,
And offering prayers for their babes and wives,
Many brave souls did lose their lives.

Forty poor creatures from a watery grave,
With one of the boats their lives did save,
And o'er the ice they now took their way,
To reach in safety famed Hudson Bay.

What horrid sufferings of pain and want,
These frozen regions no food did grant,
At length, oh horrid ! for want of meat,
Their dying comrades they had to eat.

How horrid was the sight when found,
Their limbs and bodies lay scattered round,
The flesh granw'd off from every bone,
Oh may their souls to heaven have gone.

Now for to finish and make an end,
May God their families from want defend,
And while their loss we sadly deplore,
We hope such horrors to hear no more.


Many thanks to Dr Hugh Anderson for sending me this version from his collection.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory