Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION                   kix
ordinary audience to which ballad-writers appealed, but for a higher class of hearers, for the theatre or the drawing-room as well as the street and the tavern. To hit genteel taste they became more sentimental in tone and more polished in diction and metre. They were written mostly by profes­sional poets or men with some literary training. Gay led off. His two celebrated songs, Black-eyed Susan and 'Twas when the seas were roaring, mark the beginning of the movement which culminated in the productions of Dibdin. Both will be found in Mr. Stone's Sea Songs, pp. 208, 209. Gay had many imitators. To this class belongs Fair Sally loved a bonny sailor (p. 163), which probably suggested Dibdin's Token. Set to music by Maurice Greene it enjoyed great popu­larity throughout the eighteenth century. Come and listen to my ditty (p. 162), less artificial in form, obtained a still longer vogue, and was printed as a broadside as late as the beginning of the nine­teenth century. It furnished the tune for Hosiers Ghost. Two other songs, if Smollet is to be trusted, became popular in the navy itself. How pleasant a sailors life passes (p. 164) was the favourite of Roderick Random's uncle Lieutenant Thomas Bowling. A quotation from it supplied the place of argument when the lieutenant per­suaded Roderick to go to sea.
' On our way back to the village, my uncle spoke not a word during the space of a whole hour, but whistled with great vehemence the tune of Why should we quarrel for riches, etc., his visage being contracted all the while into a most formidable frown. At length his pace increased to such a degree, that I was often left behind a considerable way, which when he perceived, he waited for me; and when I was almost come up with him, called out in a surly tone, " Bear a hand, damme !—must I bring to every