Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION              xxix
Lord Protector, written in 1655, strikes the same note. ' The present greatness of this nation' he attributes in part to the wise head and strong hand of the Protector himself, in part to the 'winged navy1 which makes the English ' Lords of the world's great waste, the ocean.' This dominion, which Charles I. had claimed, the victories of the Protector's admirals had re-established, and its outward sign was the honour paid to the red-cross flag.
' The sea's our own ! and now all nations greet With bending sails, each vessel of our fleet. Your power extends as far as winds can blow Or swelling sails upon the globe may go.'
The pride in the English navy which found its highest expression in these poems of Waller's was sadly humiliated by the incidents of the second Dutch war. The first of the naval ballads of the new reign is called The Valiant Seaman s Congratu­lations to his Sacred Majesty King Charles the Second (p. 53). It is an expression of loyalty and devotion, protesting a willingness to go anywhere and fight anybody in the King's cause. At the moment it was written, which was probably in 1662, France rather than Holland seemed the most likely adversary, for Louis XIV. was disputing the cere­monial honours due to the British flag. ' If you will give commission to war with France we'll go,' say the seamen to Charles, promising ' we will make their topsails unto our fleet shall bow.' A couple of years later it became clear that the Dutch were to be the enemy, not the French. The next ballad in the series is England's Valour and[Holland's Terror. It refers to Allin's attack on the Smyrna fleet, which took place on December 19, 1664, and to De Ruyter's proceedings in Guinea during the same