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BALLAD OPERAS AND BALLADS 51
evinced a propensity for music at a very early age. The story goes that he was discovered by a blacksmith at the age of six in an attic, with some twenty to thirty horseshoes he had taken from the forge. From these shoes he had selected enough to form a complete octave, and was playing thereon a very fair imitation of the Crediton chimes.
"The Death of the Smuggler" was another song of his which became popular at the time, but it is by the " Bay of Biscay" that he will continue to be known. The words of the latter were written by Andrew Cherry.
It is said of Charles Dibdin that he wrote in all some three thousand songs, words and music; but whether this is true or not it is impossible to say. He certainly was a most prolific writer and a very versatile being. He was composer, poet, actor, vocalist, and public entertainer all in one. But his forte was, of course, the writing and composing of nautical ballads. It has frequently been said that Dibdin really knew very little about the sea and sailors, and that he often made technical mistakes in his lyrics. An attack of this nature was made upon his reputation in Blackwood's Magazine in 1829, and his son Thomas wrote to the same magazine to protest against the article. In this letter Thomas Dibdin pointed out that Incledon, the famous singer,