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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8                Music of the Waters.
overboard," as he tramps up [and down his little deck through the swathing mists of a Bank fog; and those of the cook at his galley fire sung in doleful unison with his bubbling coppers. The legend of Captain Cottington, for instance, belongs to this class of songs. It is probably traditionally known to the young gentlemen at Harvard College, and is perhaps most remarkable as a bold and ingenious metrical novelty; one verse will, I have no doubt, serve to show the animated tenor of the words. The music I must refrain from giving, as I feel utterly at a loss how best to represent the extraordinary variety of style that pervades the whole; doubtless a mistake in the notation might prove a relief, but I should be tempted to commit so many that I am afraid to undertake it at all.
" Captain Cottington, he went to sea, Captain Cottington, he went to sea, Captain Cottington, he went to sea-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e, Captain Cottington, he went to sea,"
and so on, ad libitum.
There is yet another of these crooning songs, namely, " The Rhyme of Uncle Peleg." I believe I am not wrong in stating that this is an historical ballad; indeed, I quite believe that, from what I have been able to learn of sailors' songs in general, most of them, however degenerate they may have become in the course of time—and in many cases they have certainly descended to a level of utterly maudlin sentiment—have originally been tales of some heroic exploit, or eulogies on some bygone naval genius. It is Macaulay, I think, who says that, " A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors, will never achieve anything worthy to be re­membered by remote descendants with pride. It is a sentiment which essentially belongs to the higher and purer part of human nature, and which adds not a little to the strength of states."

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