Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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lxxii        SONGS AND BALLADS
Naval Lyric, which ends up by an admonition to the ' grovelling sons of verse ' not ' to tarnish Britain's Naval bloom' by inferior strains on the same subject. Next came in 1733 his Sea-Piece conĀ­taining (1) The British Sailor's Exultation (ii) His Prayer before action, and last of all in 1734 The Foreign Address ; or the best Argument for Peace. All are bad poetry, but they do illustrate the influence which the strength of our navy exercised upon the maintenance of peace during a period in which it gained no public triumphs.
Young wrote from the point of view of the King's ministers: another poet, James Thomson, set forth the case of the opposition. His Britannia, written in 1727, but not published till 1729, was, says Johnson, ' a kind of poetical invective against the Ministry, whom the nation then thought not forward enough in resenting the depredations of the Spaniards.' It recited, as Glover was to do with more effect twelve years later, the sufferings of Hosier's fleet during their forced inactivity, recalled the memory of the Spanish Armada, and pictured the indignation with which Blake and other ' immortal spirits ' must behold
' their feeble sons Shrink from that empire o'er the conquered seas For which their wisdom planned, their councils glowed, And their veins bled through many a toiling age.'
Thomson's Rule, Britannia gave him a more lasting claim to remembrance in any collection of naval literature. It was a song in the masqu^of Alfred, written by Thomson and Mallet, and performed on August 1, 1740, in honour of the birth of the Princess Augusta. The authorship of Rule, Britannia, has been attributed to Mallet, but it was published in 1752 with Thomson's name attached