Punch,  47 (1864), 131.

Putting Britannia on Her Metal. Letter from the Poet Laureate of the Fleet

Tomas Little


Letter, Spoof; Song, Drollery


Steamships, Military Technology, Technology, Progress, Steam-power, Engineering

Institutions mentioned:

Royal Navy

    Written as if by an old naval captain of limited literary ability, this describes his visit to his niece's wedding during which he sings a song featuring the lines 'Arts of Oke are our ships'. This causes great amusement to the husband of his niece who told the writer that he was 'bhind the Age' and that 'to tawk of ships as "Arts of Oke" was habsurd, hand if i wornt aware that Ships were like Spoons [...] i was litl better than a spoon myself'. The letter is supplemented by a 'balad' entitled ''Ard as Oak are Our Ships', a ballad that seeks to dissipate worries about the iron construction of ships: it insists that 'The old British Lion with his new iron chain. / Is cast in mould, that's all right in the main', that 'A Screw by an old Salt is not much admired, / But quickly our Screws will shell out, when required', and that the iron ships are ''Ard as Oak are our Ships'. Concludes by stressing the advantages of an iron over a wooden ship, including the fact that 'no rot can make he decay', and that 'our Bilers well made are by Maudslay and Penn, / Won't become half so crusty as some Captains we ken'.

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