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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244             Music of the Waters.
often have, when the angry sea turns on the men who spend their lives in wresting their daily bread from the tempest. These herring-fishers on the lonely Dutch coast live a strange life. A life of great hardship, earnest and unflagging industry, and small profit. A life that is spent, like that of most of the people of Holland, in constant warfare with the sea, striving with works that have gone on for years, and that must go on as eternally as the tide, if the imperious monarch is to be kept back from the peaceful home-like land that his hungry billows would so fain ravage. There is something so noble in a people that are content to go on year after year combating so grand a foe, that one cannot wonder that the indomitable patience and perseverance displayed by the Dutch, in the very minutest details, has won them such rewards.
Water plays such an important part in the life of the Dutch, and so much time has to be spent on it, that the people, who are characteristically chary of time, carry on all their usual occupations, and the women travelling in the tzekschuyten or gondolas reckon that from one town to another they can knit so much of a stocking. The Dutch boatmen who man these water omnibuses, and who by the way are among the most amiable watermen of the world, seem to find the water so evidently their sphere, that they never appear to be anxious to reach their journey's end. Water-boats, milk-boats, everything that is in daily use in Holland comes by canal, and it is a strange fact, that where there is so much water, there is yet a difficulty in finding any to drink, and it has often to be brought a great distance by boat to the towns ; it has been said " that in Holland wherever nature has failed to supply the sea or a river, the Dutch have made a canal." By this means most of their traffic is carried on all day with activity and some bustle, and in the evenings with a little relaxation and often to the strains of some popular song, sung in chorus, such as :

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