Robert Southey's literary ballad "The Inchcape Rock" written between 1796–8, and published in 1802 is based on the legendary 'Inchcape Rock' which is situated off the east coast of Angus Scotland near the mouth of the river Tay. The Abbot of Aberbrothok who had tied a bell to the perilous rock to warn passing ships had become very popular because of this benevolent deed.
Southey's poem tells us of a pirate who was jealous of the abbot's fame and reputation and out of spite he cut off the bell gloating maliciously and sadistically,
Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.
But the poem ends with Sir Ralph being punished for his evil deed. Once when he was returning home with the loot he had plundered his ship sails into a fog and he becomes completely disoriented:
So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.
From the sound of the waves breaking they realize that they are near the shore. Even as one of the sailors wishes that they could hear the inchcape bell and be warned of the danger ahead the ship strikes the inchcape rock. The pirate ship sinks with Sir Ralph tearing his hair and cursing himself. The ballad concludes with the sound of the funeral bell ringing for Sir Ralph and Satan waiting to receive him in hell:
But even is his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.
The character of the pirate Sir Ralph the Rover has been plainly presented in a straightforward manner. He is an evil and jealous person who could not accept the popularity of the good Abbot and tried to spoil his fame and reputation by cutting the warning bell. However, poetic justice prevails and the wicked pirate ends up in a watery grave when his ship is wrecked on the very same inchcape rock.
He was a pirate who was jealous of the Abbot Of Aberbrothok. He was jealous because he had his den nearby and when ships collapsed with the Inchcape Rock he easily looted them but due to the Abbots work (tying a bell to the rock) less and less ships collapsed due to which he was having less loot.
Who was sir Ralph the rover