This ballad begins: 'Come all you Britons stout and bold / Who scorns now to be controu'd / Good news unto you I will unfold / It is of brave Rodney's glory / Who always bore a noble heart / And from his colours ne'er could start / But always takes his country's part'.
This patriotic song is a eulogy to the martial glories of Great Britain and the famous English admiral, George Rodney (1719-92). Rodney served in the Seven Years' War and, in April 1782, won a famous victory over Count de Grasse's French fleet at the islets called the Saintes, near Dominica. Known as the Battle of the Saints, Rodney's resounding victory meant that the West Indies remained under British control. The ballad proudly takes the audience into the heat of the battle and, revealingly, the narrator places great emphasis on forging a British identity through fighting wars against the French and Spanish.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable period of publication:
1880-1900 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(133a)
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