The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #3031548
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
13-Nov-10 - 11:52 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
One last (?) statement by WC Russell comes in an essay called "A Claim for American Literature" in THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, Feb. 1892.

It shows his high regard for Dana.

He puts his American origins of chanties idea down in an even more positive fashion than previously.

However, I will not here assert that the Americans have taught us any particular lesson in the direction of forecastle fare. They invented the double topsail yards ; they invented the "chanty," the inspiring choruses of the windlass and the capstan, such hurricane airs as "Across the Western Ocean," " Run, Let the Bulljine Run!" " Shanadoah," " Old Stormy," " Bully in the Alley," " Cheerily, Men !" and scores besides ; they were the first to lighten the sailor's labor by bidding him lift up his voice when he hove or shoved ; they-imported into their commercial marine fifty useful time- and labor-saving ingenuities, all which we on our side, blind with the scaly salt of centimes of dogged seagoing, were very slow to see, to apprehend, and to apply. But the imaginations, the inventions, of the American nautical mind seemed to have come to a stand at the Sign of the Harness Cask.

He adds "Old Stormy" -- which I will attempt to class under the keyword I've been using, WALK HIM ALONG -- and "Bully in the Alley" to his named shanties.

The title "Old Stormy" appeared as such in Nordhoff but nowhere else that I can see. BULLY IN ALLEY occurred only once so far, in a book by Mulford in 1889. Russell doesn't mention that title in his writings prior to 1889 but now he adds it to his list. Whereas one could argue that Rio Grande and Bowline and Whiskey Johnny were commonly known, Bully in the Alley being mentioned here raises my eyebrow. It is entirely possible that he mentions it independently but... there still remains an issue for my purposes at least. Which is that if this is an independent mention then I want to record it as such, while if Russell is for some reason just mentioning previously-mentioned songs (regardless of his own experiences) then it messes with my data....damnit!

In any case, these Russell examples are great because they show an Englishman, at the cap (?) of the shanty era stating his belief that szanties were American creations...which we can then compare to the growing belief in the 20th century that shanteys were essentially British.