Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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' While the loud trump of fame on earth and ocean sounded With Howe, Jervis, Duncan, and Nelson's name resounded; But the battle of the Nile was the foremost on the file, And all the Angel choirs sang the glories of that day.'
Of much greater interest than these is a long narrative ballad, said to have comprised about sixty verses, of which tradition has preserved merely a fragment. From the exactness of the details, it was. probably written by some sailor in the fleet. All that survives is printed on p. 287.
The battle of Copenhagen is the theme of two ballads of the ordinary type (pp. 295, 296). To these has been added the original version of Campbell's Battle of the Baltic, which he enclosed in a letter to Sir Walter Scott written on March 27, 1805 (p. 290). 'Though wanting,' says Sir J. K. Laughton, ' the polish which afterwards brought it to something like perfection, though many of the lines are bald, harsh, or tumid, some of the ex­pressions are happier than in the finished work ; and, though we dp not go to a ballad for historical detail, it is fuller and more accurate' (The Nelson Memorial, p. 196). Campbell was in a special sense the laureate of the war which resulted from the coalition known as the Armed Neutrality of 1801, and he published in the Morning Chronicle of March 18, 1801, his ballad Ye Mariners of England headed On the Prospect of a Russian War. The original of this, which differs only in a few unimportant phrases from the later version, is to be found in Laughton's Nelson Memorial, p. 175, and in Beattie's Life of Campbell. It is needless to reprint it here.
Nelson's next engagement was not against the Russians, as he expected, but against the French flotilla which lay in the harbour of Boulogne,pre­pared for the invasion of England. This disastrous