The Loss of The Sweet Hope
Written by Harry Davis
Harry Davis, well known Rye journalist wrote this Operatic Recitation in memory of the men lost on the Rye Trawler Sweet Hope. It was performed by members of Rye Dramatic and Operatic Society
Recited by Mr. Wm. Dawes, at the Entertainment by the Rye Dramatic & Operatic Society in aid of the “Sweet Hope” Fund, January 1895.
Not in the gale’s commotion, Not on a storm-tossed ocean, Not in the wild waves’ foam, Nor in the darksome night;
But at the noon of day, Whilst fishing in Rye Bay – With native town, and home, Within those poor men’s sigh Sweet Hope went down.
No storm was it that shook her And overwhelmed her crew, No hurricane o’er took her And swept away those two; Not ‘midst the cannon’s rattle
Were they numbered with the dead, But in quite as fierce a battle – The fight for daily bread, Sweet hopes were wrecked!
It needs not I should tell the sad tale o’er again Of what befell those fishermen who ‘nearth the waves are lain, Of how George Buckland and John Britt so sadly lost their lives, Of Buckland’s little children and both swiftly-widowed wives. You know that whilst the smack “Sweet Hope”, was trawling off our town, “King Oscar”, a Norwegian barque, struck her and ran her down. Saw that Buckland went down with her, close clinging to the mast. You know that he and Britt are both beneath the waves-asleep, And you remember those they left behind, to mourn and weep – The Widows and the Fatherless-one sorely-stricken one Widowed when but a four-days’ wife, with wedlock just began. Four days before had loving troth been plighted. The “Sweet Hope” sank. Sweet hopes were sadly blighted. Words are of little comfort in such wreckage of the heart But deeds of earnest sympathy can play a useful part. Words cannot bring the husbands back whose loss we all deplore, But deeds can keep the Hunger-Wolf from either widows door! And so we meet to-night, making good use of leisure, In handing to the helpless ones the profit of our pleasure, Some hearts are sore with sorrow, whilst other hearts are glad. The foreign barque has killed two men-but a Rye smack saved the lad! All honour to the rescue by the crew of the “X.L.”, Foord and his son, and Tiltman, did what they could do well.
They did their part! We must do ours-as Rye has ever done. Some think the homely herring is a very humble dish – Some think the herring vulgar, being “so very cheap a fish! One far more eloquent than I has counted up the cost; The song strikes homes, remembering the “lives o’’ men” we’ve lost.
(voice singing in the distance) –
“Buy my caller herring They’re bonnie fish and halesome farin’; But my caller herrin’, New drawn frae the Forth, Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’
They’re nae brought here without brave daring, But my caller herrin’ Ye little kep their wirth. Wha’ll buy my caller herrin’ O ye may ca’ them vulgar farin’, Wives man mithers maist despairing, Ca’ them lives o’ men
The “Lives o’men” Aye, that’s the price, ye ken- The lives of Rye’s brave tan-frocks-our gallant fishermen Men who, with rougher speech that us, have quite as warm a heart, Men who, for comrades in distress, will always do their part. Shall we do less? Shame on us if we do! I only ask the question. The answer is with you!
To-night you take your pleasure, and the profits they will gain. If we give you your money’s worth, surely you’ll give again Some have already given – to all others would I speak For those tho in life’s fight are falling, wearily, weak. Let our fishermen feel certain whilst out upon the deep That they have steadfast friends ashore whose hearts are not asleep – That Ryers ever staunch will be (voices) “For those in peril on the sea”
Taken from the March 2002 issue of “Rye’s Own”.