Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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press which existed during that period. In 1647 and 1648 a flood of abusive ballads and newspapers had appeared in print, directed against the Long Parliament and the army, and designed to further the cause of the King. The Parliament passed on September 20, 1649, an Act for the suppression of unlicensed books and pamphlets, and for the punish­ment of their authors and vendors. Hawkers of pamphlets, newspapers and ballads, and ballad-singers, were to be apprehended, conveyed to the House of Correction, and whipped as rogues. By this Act, and by an Act against vagrants passed in 1657, declaring that henceforth, ' persons commonly called fidlers and minstrels' should be proceeded against as ' rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars,' the production and circulation of ballads was effectually checked. Consequently neither the naval commanders of that time nor their victories were commemorated in the usual way. There is indeed a ballad called Admiral Deane's Funeral describing his interment in Westminster Abbey in 1653 {Rump Songs, 1660, p. 308); but it is merely a Royalist satire, concluding with the statement that though the admiral's body is solemnly interred ' In the famous chapel of Henry the Seven,' yet ' His soul is scarce gone the right way to heaven.' But the only ballad directly relating an incident in the wars of this period is one which describes the bombard­ment of Malaga by five of Blake's frigates in July
1656,  which is reprinted on p. 47. A long narrative poem on The Life and Actions of that valiant Hero Robert Blake, Esq., General of the Fleets of the Commonwealth of England, from the year 1649 to
1657,  written during the Protectorate, has survived, but it is too worthless to reprint {Poems on Affairs of State, vol. i. part 2, pp. 274-290, ed.). Of more interest is the Elegy on the Death of the Right