Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

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

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continued efforts to discover his fate also attracted the attention of the writers of street ballads ; but neither Lady Franklins Lament nor the Lament on the Fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew deserve reprinting. The last was written in i860; ten years later the old street ballads practically became extinct. Once they had been the instru­ment used to convey information about public events to the people, but that function had now passed to the cheap newspapers. Popular opinion had found other modes of expression, and as songs they had been superseded by the more taking melodies of the music-halls.
Sir Cyprian Bridge speaks of the 'general taking over of the songs of the music-hall of late by sailors.' The process began long ago. Captain Glascock in 1834 noted the supersession of the old naval songs by ditties fashionable at the moment on shore.
'For the whole three years as I sarv'd in that there March-d-Mind man-d-war I was tellin' ye about I never hears so much as a sailor's song—a song as ye could call a reg'lar built seaman's stave.'
' No, Ned, you doesn't now often hear the staves as we used to sing in the war—you never now hears Will ye go to Cawsin Bay, Billy Bo, Billy Bo!—nor the Saucy Arethusa—nor the Bold BrittanyBlack colours under her mizen did flyFrom Ushant to Scilly is thirty-five leagues, an' many more of the sim'lar sort.'
' No, no, Sam—you're right enough—your March-d-Mind men must now come your simmy-dimmy quiv'ring quivers—tip ye soft sentimental touches—sigh away like ladies in love, an' never sing nothin' but your silly sicknin' stuff, as often used to frighten the geese an' make 'em cackle in the coop, for all the world like the comin' of a heavy hurricane. Moreover, your March-d-Mind men never will sing a single stave as admits of the main thing —for what's a song as won't allow all hands to jine in reg'lar coal-box ? (chorus). No, no, your March-d-Mind