Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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lxii         SONGS AND BALLADS
nor the courtiers beg the hulk. Manley's crew love him in spite of his surliness. ' He's always as dogged,' says one, 'as an old tarpaulin when hindered of a voyage by a young pantaloon captain.' ' 'Tis true,' answers another, ' I never saw him pleased but in the fight, and then he looked like one of us coming from the pay table, with a new lining to our hats under our arm.' D'Urfey's Captain Porpuss, already mentioned, belongs to the year 1681. These instances refute Mr. Gosse's statement that Ben, in Congreve's Love for Love (1695), is the ' first of a long line of stage sailors.' On the other hand, Ben represents the type in its most perfect shape. He is a younger son, ' half home bred and half sea bred,' designed to marry Miss Prue, whom he woos in technical language. ' I don't stand much towards matrimony. I love to roam from port to port and from land to land: I would never abide to be port bound.' Nevertheless he confesses Prue has charms. ' You're a tight vessel and well rigged, an you were but as well manned.' This promising beginning ends in a quarrel. She calls him a ' stinking tarbarrel,' he^ terms her a 'dirty dowdy' (Act iii. sc. vi. vii.). But if Ben has not the gallantry of a stage sailor, he has the aggressive honesty. ' Don't think I'm false-hearted like a landsman,' he tells another lady. ' A sailor will be honest, tho' perhaps he has never a penny of money in his pocket. Mayhap I have not so fair a face as a citizen or a courtier, but for all that I've as good blood in my veins and a heart as sound as a biscuit' (Act iii. sc. xv.).
The reign of Queen Anne, compared to that of William III., is rather barren in naval ballads. Pepys died in May 1703, and later collectors who took less interest in maritime affairs allowed the songs written about them to perish. Yet the