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

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INTRODUCTION                      lv
' Our drink it is but vinegar and water, Four shilling beer in England's ten times better— So that when saylors gets good wine They think themselves in heaven for the time : It hunger, cold, all maladies expels, With cares of the world we trouble not ourselves.'
Balthorpe drew up a verse petition to Sir John Harman on September 4, 1670, denouncing the malpractices of the purser and the victuallers, which is dated 'written on Ban Yan Saturday, being Kettle Holyday.' As usual, the complaint made was not against the regulations, but against the officials:
' Purser, steward, mate, all three I wish them hanged upon a tree: Except that we have scofife for dinner, It were no harm as I'm a sinner. They say they give us what the king allows, They think they speak to fools that nothing knows; But they're mistaken in the matter quite, Were we their judge, they'd hang outright.'
No petition or promise of redress produced more than a temporary amendment. Resignation and an occasional drinking bout was the only course.
' I know the King far better doth allow, But how to compass it we do not know, For mutineers we will be never If that we keep but life and soul together.'
The same complaint recurs in the eighteenth century, and is set forth at length in the True Character of the Purser of a Ship (p. 233).
Yet the sailor of the seventeenth century, badly fed, badly paid and badly treated, was a cheerful person and pleased with small things. Whitelocke, in his relation of his embassy to Sweden in 1653,