Singing for the Nation: Balladry, naval recruitment and the language of patriotism in eighteenth-century Britain
During the eighteenth century the ballad was one of the most important vehicles of mass communication. The Royal Navy was a consistent and popular subject for ballads and hundreds of songs were published with a distinct naval theme. This article analyses the nature of naval ballads, and investigates their potential political, social and cultural roles. It also studies the language of these ballads, to show how they shaped ideas about the navy, and in turn assess their role in naval recruitment. By considering the social–cultural milieu in which decisions about volunteering took place, it argues that patriotism, duty and identity played an important role in encouraging men to join the navy.