Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION              xlvii
In September 1691 Russell's fleet put into Plymouth in a violent storm, losing two ships, the Coronation, a second-rate, and the Harwich, a third-rate. This disaster is commemorated in England's Great Loss by a Storm of Wind, which exaggerates, as ballads generally do, and makes him lose nine ships (p. 113).
The failures of 1690 and 1691 enhanced the glory of the victory of La Hogue in 1692. On that battle there are no less than four ballads. One of them, Admiral Russell scowering the French Fleet, long kept its popularity with sailors, and is to be found in most eighteenth-century collections of songs. A pamphleteer, writing in 1757 about the action off Toulon on February n, 1744, says, ' I myself heard the song about the battle of La Hogue sung by almost every man on board one ship the day of the battle of Toulon with very good effect, till the infamous behaviour of some in the fleet put an end to their song, and changed their praises of the dead into curses of the living, and, upon inquiry, I had reason to believe it was sung in every ship in the fleet with the same effect' {Three Letters relating to the Navy, Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, 1757, p. 18). Rear-Admiral Richard Carter, who was killed at La Hogue, is the subject of an elegy preserved in the British Museum. It shows that he was popular with those who served under him :
' His virtue was not rugged, like the waves, Nor did he treat his sailors as his slaves : But courteous, easy of access, and free, His looks not tempered with severity.'
There was also published in 1692 a Con-. gratulatory Ode to Admiral Russell and the other Sea-Commanders for their late Glorious Victory.