the Three Captains"
(by John McGivering)
So when they got aboard of the Admiral's,[line 59] quarter-deck the deck abaft the mainmast where the Captain or officer-of-the-watch controls the vessel.
He hanged fat Jack and flogged Jimmee,
But as for little Bill, he made him
The captain of a Seventy-three.
The more he thought on’t it the madder he grew,Robert Dawson notes that the 'great horn spoon' was the 'Big Dipper', part of Ursa Major. It is not only one of the most identifiable constellations in the northern hemisphere, but the one traditionally used, by extending the line through two of its stars, to find the North Star (cf. the slave era song "Follow the Drinking Gourd," North being the direction of the 'Underground Railroad', a network of secret routes for runaway slaves from the South) It's therefore a natural (secular) symbol for steadiness and reliability.
Until he vowed by the great horn spoon,
Unless they did the thing that was right,
He’d give them a licking, and that pretty soon.
If blood be the price of admiraltyThis line signifies that the speaker is flying the entrails of his enemy at the mast-head to signify he has command of the sea. This might have been suggested by the legend that the Dutch Admiral Tromp (1597-1653) sported a broom at his masthead to show that he has swept the English from the sea in the First Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-1654. [this seems rather unlikely, since a broom at the masthead used to signify that the vessel was for sale, but facts should not be permitted to get in the way of a good story; Ed. ] See "The Dutch in the Medway".
Lord God, we ha’ paid in full !