Enthusiasms No 60
A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of
interest, outrage or enthusiasm ...
George Frampton's brief survey of song-texts found in Deal (MT article 209) happily exposes a contribution to Nelson mythology in the copy found of 'A song on the glorious victory obtained over the French and Spaniards the 21st October 1805…'. The piece was evidently printed by T Evans at 70 Long Lane (this is the address given by George Frampton from copy but both the Bodleian Allegro archive and the British Book Trade Index give the number '79' as address - possibly, then, obscure type-face has resulted in misinformation). The Evans concerned was Thomas, operating between 1790 and 1813 according to the Bodleian Allegro archive, although neither the Bodleian nor Steve Roud's index contain any record of the text and the reference in the article to a Pitts issue entitled Trafalgar Year as a possible source has also drawn a blank. Nonetheless, all this underlines the possibilities inherent in various, hitherto undiscovered, local caches (such as have been discussed in my series of articles on Norfolk printers based on material in the Norwich Millenium library and the Norfolk Rural Life Museum in Gressenhall). The piece had certainly escaped my own notice in articles contributed to MT on the fate of Nelson during 2005.1
There is no need to rehearse all the properties of the piece since it is there now for all to see. We do find, however, that it is unremarkable in the way of much balladry on the particular subject, beginning in conventional broadside ballad style with:
Come all my gallant heroes and listen unto meWe note that word 'lately' because, frequently, much Nelson balladry was issued retrospectively. Thomas Evans' dates here offer the possibility that the piece was printed contemporaneously or nearly with Trafalgar.
While I relate a battle that was lately fought at sea…
The usual epithets are found - 'Brave' for both Nelson and Collingwood and for 'British sailors' and 'gallant', in addition, for Nelson. There are the same sentiments as were found in other balladry: that 'on the briny ocean men never fought mo re bold' and that this was in respect of 'the rage of Britain'; that afterwards 'ages yet unborn will have this story for to tell' of Nelson's victory and death; the hope that amongst wives and children, 'For the loss of those brave heroes their hearts are filled with grief'; and that 'warlike officers' should 'aspire to such fame' as that of Nelson so to 'revenge' his death. It is all typically patriotic and leaves the actuality much behind.
It is good, nevertheless, that the piece has surfaced as an addition to known balladry. The notes above would not materially help to suggest a period when the piece was pasted on the lid of the Deal toolbox as described by George Frampton - we are left with a period between the birth and death of the supposed owner of the tool-box, Edward Bristow, between 1843 and 1921, and would surmise in the nature of an ordinary life history a later rather than earlier date for its acquisition, perhaps during the latter years of the nineteenth century - but the fact that it was somehow chosen attests to a continuing interest in the fate of Nelson.
Roly Brown - 30.7.07
Oradour sur Vayres, France
1. See my recent MT articles on Norfolk printing, 202, 203, 204 and 206; and those on Nelson, 168, 172 and 173. I have another example of a local cache in newspaper articles describing a competition in Bedfordshire for submission of 'folk songs' in 1904.
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