Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION                     ki
the Pepys and Druce collections not previously reprinted (pp. 143, 145). The existence of so many ballads of this kind—and there are many more of them in the Pepysian collection, besides others in Lord Crawford's possession—proves beyond a doubt the growth of popular interest in the navy. Another proof- is furnished by the fact ihat con­temporary dramatists represented sailors in their plays with increasing frequency. Shakespeare was one of the first to do this. Everyone will remember the shipwreck scene with which The Tempest opens, and the song of Stephano :
' The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
the gunner and his mate, Loved Moll, Meg, Marian, and Marjory, 1 but none of us cared for Kate,'
with its philosophical conclusion, ' To sea, boys, and let her go hang.' In Davenant's Siege of Rhodes, performed in 1656, sailors are introduced whose sentiments would do credit to Dibdin's heroes. ' What,' says one of them,
will not the valiant English do When Beauty is distressed and virtue too ?'
In Charles the Second's time Wycherley in 1677 brought upon the stage, in The Plain Dealer, Manley, a gentleman ' of an honest, surly, nice humour, supposed first in the time of the Dutch war to have procured the command of a ship, out of honour, not of interest, and choosing a sea life only to avoid the world.' There is also Freeman, Manley's lieutenant, ' a gentleman well educated, but of a broken fortune.' The first scene intro­duces some of Manley's crew, who speak of him affectionately as ' our bully tar,' and tell how he sank his ship that the Dutch might not have her