Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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Music of the Waters.                 5
No hearty chanties there—no fine chorus ringing with feel­ing and sentiment, brought out with the sort of despairing wildness, which so often strikes neighbouring landsfolk with the deepest emotion. He likes to growl —and he may, so long as he goes about his work. I have heard mates say, " Give me a man that can growl : the more he growls, the more he works." Silence reigns supreme aboard a Queen's ship; no general order is given by word of mouth, the boatswain's whistle takes its place. There, where the strength of one or two hundred men can be applied at one and the same effort, the labour is not intermittent, but con­tinuous. The men form on either side of the rope to be hauled, and walk away with it like firemen marching with their engine, when the headmost pair bring up at the stern or bow, they part, and the two streams flow back to the starting-point outside the following files. Thus in this perpetual " follow my leader way " the work is done, with more precision and steadiness than in the merchant service. In it the heavier work is done by each man doing his utmost at the same moment. This is regulated by the " Chanty," and here is the true singing of the deep sea—it is not recreation, it is an essential part of the work. It will masthead the topsail-yards, on making sail; it will start the anchor, ride dqwn the main-tack with a will, it will break out and take on board cargo, and keep the pumps going. A good voice and a stirring chorus are worth an extra man.
A writer in the St. James's Gazette of December 6th, 1884, says: "The beau-ideal chanty-man has been rele­gated to the past. His death-knell was the shriek of the steam-whistle, and the thump of the engines. When he flourished British ships were manned by British seamen, and carried much stronger crews in proportion to their tonnage than their successors. In those days gipsy-winches, patent windlasses and capstans, had no existence, and the heaving and hauling had to be performed by manual strength and labour; and to make the work ' go '

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