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The Death of Nelson / Nelson's Monument

[ Roud 1552 ; Bodleian Roud 1552 ; Wiltshire Roud 1552 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang Neson's Death, a song commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar on the 1973 LP The Valiant Sailor: Songs and Ballads of Nelson's Navy. He was accompanied by Alistair Anderson on concertina. This recording was also included in the French compilation album Chants de Marins IV: Ballads, Complaintes et Shanties des Matelots Anglais. Roy Palmer commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

The first verse, with it's fine Dorian tune, was collected by Vaughan Williams in Hampshire in 1909. The rest of the text has been added by A.L. Lloyd from broadsides by Such of London and Firth of Pocklington during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Harry Cox's sang this song in a recording by Peter Kennedy in London in December 1953; it was included with the title Nelson's Monument in 2000 on his Rounder anthology What Will Become of England?. It is also printed in Roy Palmer's book A Ballad History of England.

Shirley Collins learned The Death of Nelson from the singing of Harry Cox. This shares the first verse with A.L. Lloyd's version above. Her recording was published on her 1974 Topic album, Adieu to Old England. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes:

From the late Harry Cox of Catfield, Norfolk. With its well-known chorus, this song could have easily been turned into a rousing battle-cry. Instead, Harry sang it with sorrowful dignity. It is that spirit which Shirley has endeavoured to follow.

Compare this to George Dunn's and Peter Bellamy's Nelson's Death and Victory (Roud 18837).

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Nelson's Death

All Britons long expected good news from our fleet,
Commanded by Lord Nelson, the French for to meet,
Till at length the news come over through the country was spread,
That the French were defeated but Nelson was dead.

He was a bold commander, as sail the ocean wide,
He made the French to tremble with his terrible broadside;
One hundred fights he'd been in, and never once was beat,
Though he'd one arm and one eye no power could him defeat.

This bold undaunted hero on the quarter deck he stood,
You would admire his action with the decks awash with blood.
But aloft all in the rigging a Frenchman fired a ball,
And that was the cause of our bold Lord Nelson's fall.

Then up steps the doctor in a hurry he did say:
“My lord, indeed I'm sorry to see you bleed this way.”
“No matter, and no matter, whatever about me,
It's to my gallant seamen your first duty should be.”

He called unto his captain: “How does the battle go?
I hear our great guns rattle, oh death is near I know.”
“Oh, it's eighteen we have captured and our men they are on board,
And we'll blow the French from the ocean, my lord.”

Come all you bold seamen, let the bottle go round,
For Nelson was loyal and true to the crown.
Here's God bless all seamen that speak of his good,
And God bless our fleet and the brave Lord Collingwood.

But mourn, England, mourn, oh mourn and complain,
For the loss of Lord Nelson that died on the main.

Harry Cox sings Nelson's Monument

Old England's long expected heavy news from the fleet—
It was commanded by Lord Nelson the French for to meet—
The news it came over, through the country was spread,
That the French were defeated but Lord Nelson was dead.

Chorus (after each verse):
Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never never never shall be slaves.

Not only Lord Nelson but thousands were slain,
A-fighting the French on the watery main,
To protect our own country both honour and wealth,
But the French they would not yield until they yield unto death.

The merchants of Yarmouth when they heard so
Said, “Come, brother sailor, to church let us go;
And there we will build a most beautiful pile
In remembrance of Nelson the hero of the Nile.”

“Your plans”, said Britannia, “are excellent and good,
A monument for Lord Nelson and a sword for Collingwood.
Let it be of good marble to 'petuate his name;
Letters of gold wrote, ‘He died for England's fame.’ ”

Our soldiers and sailors as I have been told
Keep themselves in readiness their rights for to hold;
Their rights to maintain, the cause to expose,
If in an invasion to save British ports.

Our soldiers and sailors many brave deeds have done
While fighting in foreign many battles have won.
If the Nile could but speak or did Trafalgar declare,
All the world with Lord Nelson they would not compare.

Shirley Collins sings The Death of Nelson

Old England long expected heavy news from the fleet,
It was commanded by Lord Nelson the French for to meet,
When the news it came over, through the country was spread,
That the French were defeated but Lord Nelson was dead.

Chorus:
Rule, Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never never never shall be slaves.

Not only Lord Nelson but thousands were slain,
A-fighting the French on the watery main
To protect their own country both honour and wealth,
But the French they would not yield until they yield unto death.

Now the merchants of Yarmouth when they heard so
Said “Come, brother seaman, to church let us go;
And it's there we will build a most beautiful pile
In remembrance of Nelson, hero of the Nile.”

“Your plans”, said Britannia, “were excellent and good,
A monument for Lord Nelson and a sword for Collingwood.
Let it be of good marble and perpetuate his name;
Letters in bright gold wrote, 'He died for England's fame'.”

(Chorus)

Our soldiers and sailors as I have been told
Keep themselves in readiness their rights for to hold;
Their rights to maintain, the cause to expose,
If in an invasion to save British ports.

Our soldiers and sailors many brave deeds have done,
While fighting in foreign many battles have won.
If the Nile could but speak or Trafalgar declare,
All the world with Lord Nelson they would not compare.

(Chorus)

Links

See also the Mudcat Café threads Lyr Req: Death of Nelson and Lyr Req: On Board of a Man-of-War.