The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7339   Message #443819
Posted By: Susanne (skw)
18-Apr-01 - 06:33 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Spanish Ladies
Snuffy, you mean Talcahuano Girls. It seems to be neither in the DT nor in the Forum, so here you are. The tune is 'Spanish Ladies', of course.


We'll rant and we'll roar like true-born young whalermen
We'll rant and we'll roar on deck and below
Until we see bottom inside the two sinkers
And straight up the channel to Huasco we'll go

I was in Talcahuano last year in a whaler
I bought some gold brooches for the girls in the Bay
I bought me a pipe and they called it a meerscum
And it melted like butter on a hot shiny day

I went to a dance one night in old Tumbez
There was plenty of girls there as fine as you'd wish
There was one pretty maiden a-chewing tobacco
Just like a young kitten a-chewing fresh fish

Here's a health to the girls of old Talcahuano
A health to the maidens of far-off Maui
And let you be merry, don't be melancholy
I can't marry youse all, or in chokey I'd be

Oh I've been a sea-cook, and I've been a clipperman
I can sing, I can dance, I can walk the jib-boom
I can handle a harpoon and cut a fine figure
Whenever I get in a boat's standing room

[1967:] Chase of sperm and right whales, Pacific, early 19th century.
By no means all the oldtime whaling was done in northern waters. In the 1820s, for example, more than a hundred British ships, mostly out of Hull or London, were fishing in the spermwhale grounds round the Horn off the coast of Chile and Peru and taking the long, long run across the Pacific by way of Galapagos Island and the Marquesas, to Timor. The trip would last three years.
The song called Spanish Ladies was on the go among seamen in Samuel Pepys' day, but by the 1840s, Captain Marryat (author of 'Midshipman Easy') reported it as 'now almost forgotten'. Nevertheless it survived well in countless parodies (one of them associated with Australian drovers, as it happens). The present version belongs to the rowdy South- Seamen [...]. Talcahuano lies south of Valparaiso in Chile; Huasco is about midway between 'Vallypo' and Antofagasta; Tumbez is on the Gulf of Guayaquil, near the Equator: odorous ports, all three. (Notes A. L. Lloyd, 'Leviathan!')