Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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A villainous rival invariably availed himself of its assistance :
' A friendly voice young William hailed ; A ruffian gang the youth assailed ;
'Twas done by cursed gold. The tender for the offing stood, The cutter skimmed the yielding flood,
They hatched him in the hold.'
( Young William?)
It afforded opportunities for the more romantic forms of the sentimental ballad, in which the maid disguised herself as a sailor in order to accompany her lover when he was pressed to sea. There are several seventeenth and eighteenth century ballads about disguised women who served as sailors, and there are some genuine instances. One of them, Hannah Snell, became celebrated, and about 1750 attracted crowds to hear her sing a song describing her adventures (p. 200). In the street ballads of the early nineteenth century the theme is a perĀ­petual favourite. Other ballads of the same period celebrated the courage or dexterity with which the maiden contrived to obtain her lover's release. The most celebrated example of this class of ballad is Billy Taylor, which is a parody on an earlier romantic ballad entitled sometimes William Taylor, sometimes The Female Lieutenant (pp. 326-27). Another example is Cawsand Bay (p. 328), which is a late imitation of an older ballad called either The Valiant Maid or The Undaunted Lieutenant.
Impressment ceased about 1835, though not formally abolished, and its cessation seems to have been somehow connected in the popular mind with King William IV. His sympathy with sailors was the theme of several street songs. The King and the Sailor celebrates his affability ; Duke Williams