Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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xlii         SONGS AND BALLADS
Sir John, and certainly a kinsman. There is a ballad on his capture of the Dutch frigate Schaherlaes in February 1675 (p. 53), but his career began in the Mediterranean. On May 8, 1671, Sir Edward Spragge's squadron destroyed seven Algiers men-of-war and their prizes in the harbour of Bugia. The boom which defended the Algerines was cut by three of Spragge's boats, thus making way for a fireship< to enter. Harman seems to have been in comĀ­mand of one of the boats. ' The Admiral,' says a contemporary letter, 'had every man killed and wounded in his boat, save Mr. Harman, who is deservedly commended and is said to have cut the boom in half pistol shot under their biggest castel (where the chains reached not) and heads of their men-of-war' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1671, p. 249). Dryden,in some lines addressed in Nat Lee on his play of Alexander the Great, refers to these two exploits of Harman's to prove the proposition that some men's merits are too preĀ­eminent for rivalry: for instance, Lee's as a dramatist or Harman's as a sailor :
' Tis here as 'tis at sea ; who farthest goes, Or dares the most, makes all the rest his foes. Yet when some virtue much outgrows the rest,. It shoots too fast and high to be opprest, As his heroic worth struck envy dumb, Who took the Dutchman and who cut the boom.'
When this was written Harman's brief but glorious career had just ended. In September 1677, while in command of the Sapphire, 34, he engaged an Algerine ship called the Golden Horse, 46, failed to take her, and was mortally wounded in the fight. Elegiac Verses on the death of Captain Thomas Harman, late commander of his Majesties Frigot the Sapphire, addressed and presented to