Notes from
Dr. Dogbody's Leg

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Dr. Dogbody's Leg

Words by Charles Ipcar 2005
Inspired by Doctor Dogbody's Leg by James Norman Hall
(co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty), 1940

Tune: traditional "Paddy West"

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Now as I was a-walking round Portsmouth town,
Feeling cold and glum,
The Cheerful Tortoise was close at hand
So I steps in for some rum;
I says to the landlord, "A glass of your best,"
And he turns to me with a smile,
"I'll pour you a glass of old Port Royal,
Won't you sit by the fire awhile?"

As I was sipping that rum, me boys,
I heard an awful din,
As all at once the door banged open
And some old shipmates blew in;
One was a Royal Navy surgeon,
Dogbody was his name,
He'd served the King full fifty years,
You may recall his fame.

No one could slice off an arm or leg
With greater speed or skill;
No one could stitch up a gapping wound,
A wound you'd swear would kill;
But the strangest tales, ever regaled,
And heed me well, I beg,
How that surgeon bold, the truth be told,
How he'd come to lose his leg.

dogbody.jpg - 34206 Bytes He'd lost a leg in '68,
To the spur of a fighting cock;
Or was it lost to a sea serpent's bite
As he dangled it from a rock?.
He'd lost a leg to a pistol ball,
Mistook for a highwayman;
Or was it lost in Copenhagen,
Where Nelson led the van?

Chorus:
So raise your glass of old Port Royal,
Let's toast that surgeon bold,
Likewise his leg, and his famous peg,
Let another tale be told!

I mind the time he took a ride,
Out from Dutch Cape Town;
He and a friend on ostrich-back,
When he looked about with a frown;
A heathen arrow had pierced his thigh,
Then they dined on ostrich egg,
But when they found their way back town,
Dogbody had lost his leg.

Chorus

He'd lost a leg to a cutlass stroke,
'Board a Yankee privateer;
Or was it crushed by a loose cannon
With the Greenwich pensioners?
A leg was lost to the guillotine,
But he somehow saved his head;
Then he lost a leg in old Basque Roads,
It's a wonder he ain't dead!

Chorus

Now who could forget that wintry night,
With Catherine the Great by his side?
The howling wolves in close pursuit,
It looked like his last sleigh ride,
As one by one her footmen dropped off,
To be torn to bits in a trice,
When his turn came, Dogbody was game,
And for Russia, his sacrifice.

Chorus

And so, kind friends, this evening ends,
Let's toast that surgeon bold;
Likewise his leg, and his famous peg,
Now these stories have been told;
And while some may doubt, the truth will out,
Your forbearance I'll not beg,
Though these tales be wild, I'd not beguile,
I'd never pull your leg.

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Notes from Dr. Dogbody's Leg:

In Portsmouth, by the fireside of Will Tunn's Cheerful Tortoise taproom, British seamen quaff pints and regale themselves with tales of grapeshot and gales. Enter the one-legged Royal Navy surgeon, Dr. F. Dogbody, raconteur extraordinaire. In each of the ten stories, the good doctor recounts the loss of his "larboard" leg, and each story is more outrageous and hilarious than the last.

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