Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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year. 'We'll teach you better manners yet than ever did old Noll,' it threatens. This ballad was probably published about January 1665, before war was actually declared. Much about the same date appeared Dorset's famous song, To all you ladies now at land. A tradition handed down by Prior represents it as written ' the night before the en­gagement with the Dutch in 1665/ which has been, interpreted to mean the night before the battle of June 3. But Pepys tells us that at an entertainment on the night of January 2, 1665, ' I occasioned much mirth with a ballad I brought with me, made from the seamen at sea, to their ladies in town,; saying Sir William Penn, Sir George Ayscue and Sir John Lawson made them' (Pepys, Diary, ed. Wheatley, iv. 322). There is no reason to doubt that Dorset's song was the ballad in question.
The naval battles which began in June 1665 and ended in the summer of 1666 are the subject of a series of ballads which have fortunately survived. The battle of June 3, 1665, is celebrated in The Royal Victory (p. 58), while The English Seaman s Resolution clearly belongs to the spring of 1666, when Monck and Rupert had succeeded the Duke of York and the Earl of Sandwich as commanders (p. 61). England's Triumph and Holland's Down­fall is a narrative of the four days' battle of June 1666. The writer has no doubt that it was a great victory, but is obliged to own ' we can't afford such brunts as these' (p. 63). Hence the joy with which men welcomed the undoubted and decisive victory of St. James's Day, July 25, 1666. On it there are three ballads : The New Ballad of a famous German Prince and a renowned English Duke, England's Royal Conquest, and Holland turned to Tinder (pp. 66-79). The series closes with The Dutch Damnified, or the Butter-Boxes Bobbed, which