Tom Tough
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This English tune was written by Charles Dibdin (1740-1814).

Charles Dibdin was the eighteenth son of a poor silvermaker. He was born in Southampton in 1740 and died in London in 1814. In 1778 he became resident composer at Covent Garden. In 1803 the British government paid him to write a series of songs to "keep alive the national feelings against the French."(1)

Dibdin's songs were said to be worth ten thousand sailors to the cause of England. His songs were also popular in Canada and America before and during the American Revolution and during the War of 1812.

For other tunes by Charles Dibdin at this site, enter Charles Dibdin in the search engine or see The Contemplator's Short Biography of Charles Dibdin.

My name, d'ye se's Tom Tough, I've see'd a little service,
Where mighty billows roll, and loud tempests blow:
I've sail'd with valiant Howe, I've sail'd with noble Jervis,
And in gallant Duncan's fleet I've sung out Yo! heave ho!
Yet more shall ye be knowing, I was coxen to Boscawen,
And even with brave Hawke have I nobly faced the foe;
Then put round the grog, so we've that on our prog,
We'll laugh in care's face, And sing Yo! heave ho!
We'll laugh in care's face, And sing Yo! heave ho!

When from my love to part, I first weighed anchor,
And she was sniv'lling seen on the beach below;
I'd like to've cotch'd my eyes sniv'lling too,
     d'ye see, to thank her,
But I brought my sorrows up with a Yo! heave ho!
For sailors, tho' they have their jokes,
And love and feel like other folks,
Their duty to neglect must not come for to go;
So I seized the capstan bar, like a true, honest tar,
And in spite of tears and sighs sang out Yo! heave ho!
And in spite of tears and sighs sang out Yo! heave ho!

But the worst was on't was that time
When the little ones were sickly,
And if they'd live or die, the doctor did not know;
The word was gov'd to weigh, so sudden and so quickly,
I thought my heart would break as I sang Yo! heave ho!
For Poll's so like her mother, and as for Jack, her brother,
The boy, when he grows up, will nobly face the foe;
But in Providence I trust, for you see, what must be, must,
So my sighs I gave the wind, and sang out Yo! heave ho!
So my sighs I gave the wind, and sang out Yo! heave ho!

And now at last laid up in a decentish condition,
For I've only lost an eye, and got a timber toe;
But old ships must expect in time, to be out of commission,
Nor again the anchor weigh with a Yo! heave ho!
So I smoke my pipe and Sing old songs;
My boys shall well avenge my wrongs,
And my girls shall have young sailors
Nobly for to face the foe;
Then to Country and Queen, Fate no danger can mean,
While the tars of old England sing out Yo! heave ho!
While the tars of old England sing out Yo! heave ho!
Related Links
From Our National Songs and
(1)The National Music of America and Its Sources
See Bibliography for full information.