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Bold Nelson's Praise

[ Roud 1574 ; Ballad Index ShH88 ; VWML CJS2/9/2153 , CJS2/10/2380 ; trad.]

John Goodluck sang Bold Nelson's Praise in 1974 on his Traditional Sound Recordings album The Suffolk Miracle. Brian Horsfall noted:

In contrast to many early 19th century lyrics, which sang the praise of Napoleon, this one reminds us that he was beaten. Despite his ‘French connections’ John sings it with great feeling and is concerned lest he should offend the distaff side of the family!

The New Scorpion Band sang Bold Nelson's Praise in 2000 on their CD The Plains of Waterloo. They noted:

This dedication is set to one of the Princess Royal tune variants widely believed to be written by the blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). The melody, in its various forms, is still extensively used throughout Britain and Ireland.

This song appeared as a broadside ballad shortly after Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson was celebrated in many songs and verses, although ballads about Napoleon have survived in greater numbers. Lord Howe, Viscount Duncan and Sir Sydney Smith were famous naval commanders associated respectively with the naval victories of “The Glorious First of June” 1794, Camperdown 1797, and the defense of St Jean d’Acre in 1799.

Lyrics

The New Scorpion Band sings Bold Nelson's Praise

Bold Nelson's praise I am going to sing,
(Not forgetting our glorious King)
He always did good tidings bring,
For he was a bold commander.
There was Sydney Smith and Duncan too,
Lord Howe and all the glorious crew;
They were the men that were true blue.
Full of care, yet I swear
None with Nelson could compare,
Not even Alexander.

Bold Buonaparte he threaten'd war,
A man who fear'd not wound nor scar,
But still he lost at Trafalgar
Where Britain was victorious.
Lord Nelson's actions made him quake,
And all French pow'rs he made to shake;
He said his king he'd ne'er forsake.
These last words thus he spake,
Stand true, my lads, like hearts of oak,
And the battle shall be glorious.

Lord Nelson bold, though threaten'd wide,
And many a time he had been tried,
He fought like a hero till he died
Amid the battle gory.
But the day was won, their line was broke,
While all around was lost in smoke,
And Nelson he got his death-stroke,
That's the man for old England!
He faced his foe with his sword in hand
And he lived and he died in his glory.