The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #41062   Message #1656692
Posted By: GUEST,Brian N.
27-Jan-06 - 04:49 PM
Thread Name: Donkey Riding - What's Hong-ki-kong?
Subject: RE: Donkey Riding - What's Hong-ki-kong?
This chanty can also be found in a variant known as "Chanty Song" -- and was collected by Helen Creighton in "Songs and Ballads From Nova Scotia" (c.1930's) -- There aren't many notes in the book other than it is sung by Mr. Richard Harlan, South-East Passage.

I think it pre-dates Donkey Riding, and placing it around the 1740-50's or so... Simply conjectrual, but I think that because the tune Heiland Laddie from which both songs are based, was definitely piped by the Scottish Highlanders at the Battle of Culloden, 1745.

Heiland Laddie mentions another tune, "If Thou'lt Play Me Fair, Play" which pre-dates it. However, I would think "Chanty Song" would be within a generation of the "King With The Golden Crown" (1714) for the line to be relevant.

The "King With The Golden Crown" would have to be none other than George I. When George I became King of Great Britain and King of Ireland in 1714 it was decided to replace the previous state crown (ie, the crown worn to open parliament) first created for King Charles II in the 1660s by a new crown, as the old one was judged "weak" and in a poor state of repair. Much of the ornamentation was transferred to the new crown. As with precedent, however, it was set not with precious gems but with decorated stones and glass. The crown itself consisted of four half-arches on a golden band, with the aquamarine monde and cross that had been added to King Charles's state crown in 1685. On top of it stood the cross.

The crown is quite famous and still exists today, given to Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.

Chanty Song:

Soon we'll be in England Town. Heave me Lads, Heave Ho To
see the King with a golden crown. Heave me lads, heave ho
Heave on, on we go. Heave me lads, heave ho Little
powder monkey Jim handing up the powder from the magazine be-
low When he got stuck with a ball that laid him so low
heave ho, on we go. Heave me lads, heave ho

SOON we'll be in England town,
Heav, me lads, heave ho,
To see the king with a golden crown,
Heave, me lads, heave jo,
Heave ho, on we go,
Heave, ne lads, heave ho.
The Cross-Sections Man-of-war. Biesty, Stephen. London, Dorling Kindersley, 1993 explains in detail the "six man" firing crew, which the "little powder monkey Jim" in the song would be a part of, as an early 18th century convention of naval warfare.

The Powder Monkey would be the sixth man of the gun crew:
"Gunpowder was stored in a special room called a magazine. This was deep in the ship's hold. The crew took powder from the magazine to the filling room where it was made up into cartridges.
Because the gunpowder being so flammable, the gun crew kept very few cartridges close to their cannons. In the handling chamber, the gunner made up the cartridges as they were needed, passing them out to the powder moneys through wet curtains that guarded against sparks.
Powder monkeys rushed the dangerous cartridges of gunpowder from the handling chamber, along the narrow gangways and ladders, to the guns. They were helped in this dangerous task by anyone else who was not manning a gun."

This also helps to date the chantey, I believe this would put this version at about mid-18th Century -- somewheres from 1740-1790. When the navy was actively pressing young lads, and I think within a generation or so of George I, and from the technology desribed in the one stanza.

Donkey Riding would have came after or maybe even concurrently, I think as previously mentioned would have stemmed from "Chansons" of the French Voaygers who did alot of lumbering at that time. In fact, the lumebrjacks are sometimes attributed to the origins of term "shanty".

Hard to say about what the "donkey" actually is, but literal donkeys frequently appear in the French Canadian Chansons... most of the chansons are "land" songs that have been brought over by the colonists (Champlain / Cartier). However, real donkeys did not exist much in Quebec.

"... in most cases the old words are still sung, telling of things that belong to Europe rather than to New France. The 'donkey' in Marianne s'en va-t-au moulin is an animal practically unknown in Quebec. These chansons sing of princes, knights, and sherpherdesses in a country where princes, knights and sherpherdesses are certainly not recorded on the census lists" --- Canadian Folk Songs by J.Murray Gibbon (1927).

Also, the Quebecer's (as we call them here in Canada) were also known to sing "A pasourelle" or a children's round, which becomes transformed in the course of few centuries into a robust "pulsating tune which disguises the literal meaning of thw words". The French settlement in Canada ceased early in in the eighteenth century, so that importted chansons, may "in most cases be dated as not later than the seventeeth century" ---

The chansons were often passed down by mouth from generation to generation.. it is quite possible, that "Donkey Riding" was originally adapted from a chanson as mentioned previously and it would be likely that such a chanson would be fairly old, as "Donkeys" were a rarity in Quebec, and any such lyric would probably date to the seventeeth century or earlier (Quebec was founded in 1609).

I would think this a plausible link to the chantey , and combined with the information from Helen Creighton, would date the original to nearly the same time as Highland Laddie --- and as the "Donkey Engine" developed it would make sense it would be further adapted to accomodate these shipboard changes.

Ironically, I had a great great grandfather who was pressed into Royal Service at about eight years of age -- he served for fifteen years, from about 1745-1760. He was a powder monkey, and his name was Jim. (James Cass/Cast).