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

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INTRODUCTION             Ixxxiii
A fact which made it worse was that a very limited number of subordinate officers received half-pay, and that the rates were extremely low (Clowes, ii.
233; »»■ I9».34o).
It is evident from a number of ballads, some belonging to the middle, others to the later part of this century, that there was considerable discontent in the navy. The feelings which found expression in The Sea Martyrs, in William III.'s time, were equally strong when George III. began to reign, and were to manifest themselves later in the mutinies of 1797. One perennial complaint was the badness of the provisions and the cheats of the purser. Musty meat, mouldy biscuit, hard, stinking Suffolk cheese, petty-warrant beer, burgoo ' fit for nothing but to make a sailor spew,' were what he provided, ' though the nation allows men what's fitting to eat' So says The Say lor's Complaint; or the true Character of the Purser of a Ship (p. 233), and every casual reference to a purser in any ballad is always abusive.
A still greater grievance was the difficulty a man had in getting his pay :
' My life I have ventured for gold My king and my country to serve,
Now the wars are all over, Brave sailors may perish and starve,'
is the sum of a second Sailors Complaint (p. 230). Often the sailor received a ticket for his pay, which he was obliged to sell to an usurer at a ruinous reduction—a practice which had existed since the time of Charles II., as Pepys witnesses, but which seems to have been checked towards the middle of the eighteenth century, according to The Ticket-Buyer s Lamentation (p. 231).
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