It is founded on fact. ... At the close of a winter day, Their anchors down, by London town, the Three Great Captains lay; And one was Admiral of the North from Solway Firth to Skye, And one was Lord of the Wessex coast and all the lands thereby, And one was Master of the Thames from Limehouse to Blackwall, And he was Captain of the Fleet--the bravest of them all. Their good guns guarded their great gray sides that were thirty foot in the sheer, When there came a certain trading-brig with news of a privateer. Her rigging was rough with the clotted drift that drives in a Northern breeze, Her sides were clogged with the lazy weed that spawns in the Eastern seas. Light she rode in the rude tide-rip, to left and right she rolled, And the skipper sat on the scuttle-butt and stared at an empty hold. I ha' paid Port dues for your Law, quoth he, and where is the Law ye boast If I sail unscathed from a heathen port to be robbed on a Christian coast? Ye have smoked the hives of the Laccadives as we burn the lice in a bunk, We tack not now to a Gallang prow or a plunging Pei-ho junk; I had no fear but the seas were clear as far as a sail might fare Till I met with a lime-washed Yankee brig that rode off Finisterre. There were canvas blinds to his bow-gun ports to screen the weight he bore, And the signals ran for a merchantman from Sandy Hook to the Nore. He would not fly the Rovers' flag--the bloody or the black, But now he floated the Gridiron and now he flaunted the Jack.