Naval Songs & Ballads - online book

3 Centuries Of Naval History In Shanties & Sea Songs With Lyrics & Notes

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men haven't, you may depend on it, the mind of men— they think far more like people as rigs it in petticoats, nor they as tog in trowsers. Now what looks more young-ladyish nor to see a fellor with a fist like a shoulder of mutton, flinging his flipper about an' suitin' his antics to his song, as he snivels out "Strike—strike the light guitar!" . . . Then, again, we'd another chap —a chap, too, as big and bulky as a bullock—easin' it off an' mincin' it out like a lank boarding'-school miss—" I'd be a butterfly, born in a bower"' {Naval Sketck-book, 2nd series, i. 236).
Dana noticed the same phenomenon amongst merchant sailors about 1834. ' I shall never forget,' he writes, ' hearing an old salt who had broken his voice by hard drinking on shore, and bellowing from the mast-head in a hundred north-westers, singing with all manner of ungovernable trills and quavers, in the high notes breaking into rough falsetto, and in the low ones growling along like the dying-away of the boatswain's " All hands ahoy ! " down the hatchway, " Oh no, we never mention him !" [sic] :
' Perhaps, like me, he struggles with
Each feeling of regret: But if he's loved as I have loved, He never can forget'
The last line he roared out at the top of his voice, breaking each word into half a dozen syllables, This was very popular, and Jack was called on every night to give them his sentimental song' (Two Years before the Mast, chap. xxix.).
In conclusion it is only necessary to give some short account of the sources from which the present collection has been compiled.
The best account of the collections of old ballads which exist in various public libraries is given by Chappell in the introduction to volume i. of the Rox-burghe Ballads, published by the Ballad Society.