Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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' To the block with Newcastle and yard-arm with Byng,' is the chorus of one ballad appropriately en­titled Block and Yard-arm. A collection of these was published at the time: Bungiana ; or an As­semblage of What-d'ye-call-em's in prose and verse that have occasionally appeared relative to the conduct of a certain naval commander, 1756. The French commander's conduct was not thought much better* than Byng's, and one of the squibs in this collection satirises both. It is entitled The Pacific Engage­ment, a poetical dialogue between two courteous admirals.
' (Byng)
At last we are met—but I hope with no other Intent or design but to spare one another. Though we seem by our flags to be desperate foes, Let us part, if you please, without banging or blows.
' (Galissoniere!)
But since fighting and wars are the arts which we trade in, We must have a little and short cannonading ; Our guns must be fired at a distance, but still With no wicked intention to wound or to kill. . . .'
Byng's despatch was frequently parodied in verse, and one of these parodies, The Letter of a certain Admiral, is given on p. 207, together with A Rueful Story (p. 209). Blakeney became the hero of the hour, and a naval officer who had served in the defence of Fort St. Philip was glorified with him in A New Song (p. 206). Another ballad handed down to tradition, of which the tune as well as the words has been preserved, accused Byng of selling Port Mahon, and contrasted his treachery with the courage of West (p. 210).
Next year another fiasco excited popular feeling to fury, namely the abortive ' secret expedition' to