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208 The National Music of America.
ried our flag through fearful combats in European waters. None of these was an American tune, however, and the words were not characteristic enough to be enduring. At about this time England possessed the best sea-songs ever written. The finest sailor-poet of the world was the Englishman, Charles Dibdin, the eighteenth child of a poor silversmith of Southampton, born in 1745, died 1814. Dibdin gave to the British tar an esprit du corps that could only have been attained by characteristic themes sung in a manner that the sailors could comprehend. His " Tom Bowling" (written in memory of his elder brother, captain of an East India-man, twenty-nine years his senior, a brother and father in one) remains the noblest picture of an honest sailor in the entire nautical repertoire. Dibdin had the rare faculty, the finest attribute of Burns, of being able to idealise the commonplace. Burns was able to make wonderful poetry even about a