Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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INTRODUCTION                  kxi
The third line was no sooner pronounced, than the can was lifted to every man's mouth with admirable uni­formity ; and the next word taken up at the end of their draught with a twang equally expressive and harmonious. In short, the company began to understand one another.' {Peregrine Pickle, chap, ii., p. 18, ed. 1773).
Smollet published Roderick Random in 1748, Peregrine Pickle in 17 51. N ot only no vels, but ballad operas, in imitation of Gay, began to be written in which sailors were the heroes, and their life at sea or loves on shore the subject. In 1745 appeared The Sailor's Opera, or a Trip to Jamaica, written by some anonymous imitator of the Beggars Opera, while in 1763 Tommy and Sally, or the Sailor's Return to his Sweetheart, was acted at Covent Garden. George Alexander Stevens wrote two : The French Flogged, or the British Sailors in America, 1761, and The Trip to Portsmouth, 1773. The second contains several good songs.
During the same period also professional poets of higher pretensions began to make the navy their theme. The reign of George I. furnished little for the muse to celebrate. That of George II. begins with an immense blowing of literary trumpets about the navy. George II.'s speech to Parlia­ment on January 27, 1728, contained a passage inviting the two Houses to consider a scheme ' for the increase and encouragement of our seamen in general ; that they may be invited rather than compelled to enter into the service of their country, as often as occasion shall require it.' With that object the King recommended an addition to the funds for the support of Greenwich Hospital. Edward Young seized the opportunity to publish Ocean: an Ode occasioned by his Majesty's royal encouragement of the Sea Service. He followed this up by writing in 1729 Imperium Pelagi, a