Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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' Now Lord Hood is sailed with his gallant crew, Bold sailors with ships of the line twenty-two,'
begins Success to the Grand Fleet, or the Honest Britons Prayer, announcing Hood's departure for Toulon in August 1793. But the rest is too poor to quote. The temper of the moment is illustrated by some lines from The Taking of Tobago (April 1793), which declares that ' for murdering of Louis we will make these rebels rue/ But for the most part very little sign of any feeling against the French as revolutionists appears in popular naval poetry; it is simply the old national hostility. ' We'll make them to knock under as we have done before,' says the same ballad.
Howe's victory on June 1, 1794, is the subject of at least half a dozen ballads, two of which, with a song written by a lieutenant on board the Bellerophon, will be found on pp. 268-74.
The battle of St. Vincent on February 14, 1797, is celebrated in A new song on the victory over the Spanish Fleet by Admiral Jervis, and in Jervis . taking the Spanish Fleet. According to the author of the first, the tactics of the British ships were simple:
' They, not heedful of orders, in courage confide ; The best line of battle's a thundering broadside.'
The second thus sums up the result:
' Here's a health to Admiral Jervis, our officers and crew; Spain with your surprising force we've made you for to rue. Two of your hundred and twenties and two of eighty-four By Britons brave were soon conveyed safe to old England's shore.'
Neither deserves reprinting. Duncan was more fortunate than Jervis, and at least four ballads on