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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98               Music of the Waters.
And fills the white and rustling sail, And bends the gallant mast ! "
and Mickle's " Mariner's Wife." I must own that, compared with our one great master's songs of the sea, these are but sea-songs written for landsmen. There has never been but one man's songs, written on shore, popular with the blue­jackets ; but one man's songs that seafaring men have declared redolent of pitch and tar and oakum, written with the true spirit of a sailor ; but one man's songs that the ship's fiddlers scraped on Saturday nights at sea before the toast of" Sweethearts and Wives," or were sung to cheer the tars as they toiled at the capstan—and that man was Dibdin. His songs sent many a strapping young fellow straight from the Sans-Souci Theatre, where they first heard them, to the Tower Hill to join the navy ; indeed, they became at one time a cheap substitute for the press-gang. He painted the British seaman as he found him, and made him neither better nor worse than he was. He drank much grog, he swore profusely, but he fought like a lion, and he won the First of June, and the Nile, and Tra­falgar. And in return for this true portrait of themselves, the sailors paid Dibdin the compliment of singing his songs as they did their own chanties, at their work on board.
To return to Professor Blackie's lecture, one of the sea-songs, or, to speak more correctly, songs of the sea, that he mentioned was Lady Nairne's Caller Herriri,1 which, he added, to be properly appreciated should be heard sung by a Newhaven fish-wife. There is a genuine sea-sadness and at the same time healthy stimulus in this most beau­tiful song, and the " Flower of Strathearne," as its gifted authoress used to be called in the days when she was Miss
1 It is said that the melody of " Caller Herrin''; was first suggested by the fish-wives' calls through the streets of Edinburgh, and the bells of St. Giles' chiming at the same time. It is a pretty tradition and one that is quite in keeping with the style of the song.







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