Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard, was killed by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Pearl, in an action in James River in Virginia on November 22, 1718. A ballad called The Downfall of Piracy celebrated Maynard's exploit, and forms a fitting close to the series illustrating this portion of our naval annals (p. 166).
To return to the reign of William III. During the later years of the war with France the develop­ment of privateering was more dangerous to English trade than the growth of piracy. From the very beginning of the war English commerce had suffered greatly. Nearly every year there were loud com­plaints against the management of the navy, and parliamentary debates * on the miscarriages at sea.' 4 By an odd reverse of things,' writes Burnet, speaking of the year 1692, ' as we made no consider­able losses when the French were masters of our seas two years before, so now when we triumphed in that element, our merchants suffered the most.' The same thing happened in 1695 (Burnet, Own Times, iv. 169, 268). Much was attributed to the mis­management of the admiralty, and as much to the incapacity of some of the commanders. The old controversy as to the relative merits of ' tarpaulins' and gentlemen captains revived once more. That question is the main subject discussed in the tract called A Rough Draught of a New Model at Sea, written by Lord Halifax, probably about 1694 (Foxcroft, Life of Halifax, ii. 454). It is also the subject of A Satire on the Sea Officers, apparently written about the end of 1690, from its references to the battle of Beachy Head (p. 137). The author's conclusion is that tarpaulins should rule at sea. He refers also to the desire of captains to line their pockets by carrying plate for merchants instead of fighting, and he might also have mentioned the