The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2822597
Posted By: John Minear
27-Jan-10 - 10:56 AM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Lighter, thanks for the information on that 1868 article. I had it right in front of me all day but had not associated it with that date. For the rest of you who may be interested, here is the link:'re+bound+away&lr=&cd=11#v=onepage&q=To%20Rio%20Gra

Is this article by William Chambers? Here is another, slightly fuller version of the same article from the Saturday, December 11, 1869 volume of "Chambers's Journal":'re+bound+away&lr=&cd=16#v=onepage&q=To%20Rio%20Grande

And here is the link to Alden's article in "Harper's New Monthly Magazine" (July 1882):'ll+sing+you+a+song+of+the+fish+of+the+sea%22&lr=&cd=20#v=onepage&

Alden says, on page 282 "Let us suppose ourselves on board a Liverpool packet thirty years ago." This would have been 1852. This is a somewhat ambiguous statement. He doesn't actually say "this is what I heard thirty years ago" or "this is how these songs were actually sung thirty years ago" or "back in the 1850's these are the songs you would hear". He does talk elsewhere in the article about the disappearance of the "typical "Jack" : "the "packertarian," and the able seaman of the clipper-ship fleet - has, however, utterly vanished." (page 281) This definitely suggests that he is looking back on a previous era.

Here, as in so many cases, we are up against the question of the difference between the "written" and the "oral" traditions. There always seems to be a bias towards the 'written" traditions. Something is not authoritative if it is not written down and dated. But we know in so many areas that "oral" traditions continued developing right along side of the "written" ones. The question with regard to how we treat Alden is whether he qualifies as "written" tradition or whether he is handing on "oral" tradition". The answer is both. He is definitely handing on oral tradition by writing it down. But, from whence and from when?At this point the more conservative position is that he documents remembered oral tradition in 1882.