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.             337
Prospero and Miranda had been placed with a view to their destruction :—
" The very rats Instinctively had quit it."
It is said that rats leave a ship in harbour, previous to its being lost at sea. Sometimes there is a reason for this sudden desertion, as in the case of the cunning Welsh captain whose ship was infested with them. He was lying in the Mersey, and learning that there was a vessel laden with cheese in the basin, he drew alongside of her at dusk, left all his hatches open, and when the rats were safely on board of that—to them Eldorado—cheese-laden ship, he moved off.
With regard to birds—the Stormy Petrel, as- its name betokens, presages bad weather ; the great auk never wanders beyond soundings, and thus taking their clue from him the sailors know that land is not far off. Of the kingfisher it used to be said, that whilst this bird was hatching her eggs, the sea remained so calm that the period became known as the halcyon days. The Scotch say of the sea-gulls:—
" Sea-gull, sea-gull, sit on the sand, It's never good weather when you're on the land."
Bad weather may always be looked for whenever these birds leave the open sea and hover near the shore. The sea-legends and superstitions that have to do with birds are of very ancient date. Aristophanes tells us how the Greek sailors heeded their signs :—
" From birds, in sailing, men instructions take, Now lie in port, now sail, and profit make."
The intense dread which sailois and fishermen have of the dead is a wide-spread one amongst all nations, and the horror of the Chinese sailor, when asked to carry a corpse on board, is shared by his brother blue-jackets on every sea ; they say the sea cannot digest the crudity of a
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