Studies In Folk-song And Popular Poetry

An Extensive Investigation Into The Sources And Inspiration Of National Folk Song

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AMERICAN SEA SONGS.
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dulged in mythological flights of the highest kind, in which Neptune bestowed a laurel crown upon Hull, Amphitrite smiled upon Bainbridge and De­catur, and the Tritons and the Nereids joined in a chorus of love and admiration for the Ameri­can sailor. America, Commerce, and Freedom ap­peared as conjoined goddesses, and everybody was summoned to fill the bumper and pledge the flow­ing bowl, to thank the mighty Jove and invoke Bacchus, and do all sorts of things entirely unfa­miliar to a people whose principal intoxicating bev­erages were Medford rum and Monongahela whis­key, and who had not the slightest acquaintance with heathen gods and goddesses. It is needless to say that none of these songs were written by sailors, or were ever sung by them, even if they could have been sung by anybody.
There was, however, better stuff than this in the naval songs of the war of 1812. The American sailor himself sometimes cleared his cheek of its quid, and sang in a clear if somewhat nasal voice some of the deeds which he had seen and done. Thus there is a great deal of rude vigor in one of the verses of a song describing the fight between the Constitution and the Guerriere, the first of our naval victories, and a very favorite theme : —
But Jonathan kept cool, At the roaring of the Bull.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III