Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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the despatch in which Linois is said to have re­presented his escape as a victory (p. 298).
One feature in this war was the attempted in-vasion of Ireland by the French. A fleet appeared in Bantry Bay under Admiral Morard de Galle in December 1796; a landing was actually effected at Killala on August 22, 1798, by General Humbert; a squadron under Commodore Bompart was engaged by Sir John Borlase Warren on October 12, 1798. A number of ballads relating to these incidents are collected in Crofton Croker's Popular Songs Illus­trative of French Invasions of Ireland, parts iii., iv., published by the Percy Society in 1847, but they are too entirely political in their character. The best is one beginning :
' Now fair and strong the south-east blew, and high the
billows rose, The French fleet bounded o'er the main freighted with
Erin's foes. Oh, where was Hood and where was Howe, and where
Cornwallis then, Where Colpoys, Bridport, or Pellew, and all their gallant
men ? '
The question asked in these lines formed the basis of a motion made subsequently in Parliament. The author of the ballad answers :
' Nor skill nor courage aught avail against heaven's high
decrees : The storm arose and closed our ports, a mist o'erspread
the seas.'
Captain Mahan, however, points out that the inefficiency of the British dispositions against in­vasion was to blame {Influence of Sea-power upon the French Revolution and Empire, i. 360). The fleet which reached Bantry escaped with impunity