Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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himself, in all the matters of the navy and war,' Pepys was sorry because his patron Lord Sand­wich's reputation was involved. Later still he thought the verses witty and amusing. When the last part came out with its description of De Ruyter's attack on the Thames in June 1667, the satire made his heart ache, ' it being too sharp and so true.' {Diary, vi. 101 ; vii. 1, 116). Another^, satirist, more vigorous and yet bitterer than Denham, told in indignant verse the story of the same disaster. Andrew Marvell, in The last Instructions to a Painter about the Dutch Wars, devoted about three hundred lines to describing the fight in the Medway, the breaking of the chain, the burning of the English ships, and the capture of the Royal Charles. His attack was directed against the Government itself, rather than against the com­manders of the navy, and some of his bitterest sarcasms are aimed at the attempt to screen those really responsible for the Chatham disaster, by laying all the blame on the luckless Peter Pett, the commissioner of the navy in charge at Chatham. Marvell's satire, though probably circulated in manuscript in 1667 or 1668, was too bold to be printed, and was not published till 1689 (Marvell's Poems, ed. Aitken, ii. 20-52, 127-157). He did not confine himself to satire, and in a separate poem entitled The Loyal Scot he commemorated in glow­ing lines the heroism of Captain Douglas, an officer stationed on the Royal Oak, who, refusing to leave his post without orders, was burnt with the ship on June 12, 1667 {Poems, ed. Aitken, i. 126, 212).
While the second Dutch war fills so large a place both in poetry and in the ballads, the third, which covers the period from March 1672 to February 1674, was left comparatively unsung. It was not a national war in the same sense that the