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Origins: But one man of her crew alive...

Dmitri Sofronov 07 Jan 10 - 06:07 PM
Charley Noble 07 Jan 10 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 10 - 09:12 PM
GUEST 07 Jan 10 - 09:16 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 10 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 10 - 09:29 PM
semi-submersible 07 Jan 10 - 11:26 PM
Dmitri Sofronov 08 Jan 10 - 03:59 AM
Dmitri Sofronov 08 Jan 10 - 04:08 AM
Matthew Edwards 08 Jan 10 - 05:10 AM
semi-submersible 08 Jan 10 - 05:39 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Jan 10 - 06:38 AM
Dmitri Sofronov 08 Jan 10 - 07:32 AM
Dmitri Sofronov 08 Jan 10 - 07:42 AM
semi-submersible 08 Jan 10 - 07:56 AM
GUEST 02 Dec 16 - 02:41 PM
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Subject: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Dmitri Sofronov
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 06:07 PM

Hello everyone,
I'm interested in all musical connections to R. L. Stevenson's works, and have been a failure so far in looking for the song mentioned in Tresure Island, the one sung by one of the Hispaniola pirates, Chapter 23:
Someone was singing, a dull, old, droning sailor's song, with a droop and a quaver at the end of every verse, and seemingly no end to it at all but for the patience of the singer. I had heard it on the voyage more than once and remembered these words:
"But one man of her crew alive,
What put to sea with seventy-five."

I searched the net, and this forum in particular (it seems to me the best place of all for such things), but found no mentioning of a similar song, but for a version of On the Banks of Newfoundland:

We hoisted aloft our signal; they bore down on us straightaway
When they saw our pitiful condition, they began to weep and pray
Five hundred souls we had on board when first we left the land
There's now alive but seventy-five on the Banks of Newfoundland
http://mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=5826

which is close of course, considering the exaggerated number of sailors on board a single vessel and the scale of the tragedy, however, it's not quite the thing.
I will be thankful for any help with the song - with Stevenson one can't be sure if he's mentioning a real shanty or one of his invention, but I'm sort of sure this one must be real.
PS: I'm also interested in music written by Stevenson himself - mentioned a lot, no information. Has anyone got a clue?
Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 08:29 PM

Interesting.

It does sound as if the fragment might be based on a traditional ballad.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 09:12 PM

The Banks of Newfoundland


Oh, ye may bless your happy lots, all ye who dwell on shore
For it's little ye know of the hardships that we poor seamen bore
It's little ye know of the hardships that we were forced to stand
For fourteen days and fifteen nights on the Banks of Newfoundland.

Our ship she sailed through frost and snow from the day we left Quebec
And if we had not walked about we'd have frozen to the deck
But we being true-born sailormen as ever a ship had manned
Our Captain doubled our grog each day on the Banks of Newfoundland.

There never was a ship, my boys, that sailed the western sea
But the billowy waves came rollin' in and bent them into staves
Our ship being built of unseasoned wood and could but little stand
The hurricane it met us there on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We fasted for three days and nights, our provisions giving out
On the morning of the fourth day we cast our lots about
The lot it fell on the Captain's son; thinking relief at hand
We spared him for another night on the Banks of Newfoundland.

On the morning of the fifth day no vessel did appear
We gave to him another hour to offer up a prayer
But Providence to us proved kind, kept blood from every hand
For an English vessel hove in sight on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We hoisted aloft our signal; they bore down on us straightway
When they saw our pitiful condition they began to weep and pray
Five hundred souls we had on board the day we left land
There's now alive but seventy-five on the Banks of Newfoundland.

They took us off of the wreck, my boys; we were more like ghosts than men
They fed us and they clothed us and brought us back again
They fed us and they clothed us and brought us safe to land
While the billowy waves roll o'er their graves on the Banks of Newfoundland


from

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:BufiXvnFn6QJ:www.members.shaw.ca/tunebook/banksof3.htm+There%27s+now+alive+but+seventy-five


You may also download a midi file at that site.

(No mention of RLS, however.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 09:16 PM

"Remembering The Old Songs:
THE BANKS OF NEWFOUNDLAND
by Bob Waltz

(Originally published: Inside Bluegrass, October 2006)
It never ceases to amaze me. Some politician comes along and says we need more scientists and mathematicians and engineers -- and then votes for a budget that makes mathematical and even thermodynamic nonsense, all the while gutting the budget for school science programs and demanding that they not teach the most basic aspects of the various disciplines!

With leaders like that, it's no wonder India is eating our lunch.

But the real problem is that science isn't considered exciting. People think that scientists just sit around scribbling equations in the lab. It's not so. Oh, I mostly scribbled equations, but then, I'm utterly inept and the greater the distance between me and lab equipment, the better. But one of my friends in college spent time in Britain and India as an undergraduate, earned her doctorate, then went to work in Los Alamos and then for the National Institutes of Health. Last I heard from her, she was working on AIDS. That was fifteen years ago or so. Sometimes I worry about what she may have discovered the hard way...

But that's nothing to eighteenth and nineteenth century science. The ultimate example is probably Lavoisier, the founder of chemistry, who was guillotined. But even Charles Darwin sacrificed years of his life far from home on the Beagle.

And then there are the polar explorers. We think of them just as people who wanted to make names for themselves, and certainly people like Robert Peary were -- Peary would, and did, lie, cheat and steal his way to a point that he knew perfectly well wasn't the North Pole. But the explorers of the nineteenth century were sent out with instructions which stressed science above all else -- John Frankin in 1819 was told he should "register the temperature of the air...together with the state of the wind and weather and any other meteorological phenomena. That I should...[observe] the dip and variation of the magnetic needle, and the intensity of the magnetic force; and should take particular notice whether any, and what kind or degree of, influence the Aurora Borealis might exert on the magnetic needle..."

Those arctic explorers would pay a high price. Half of Franklin's men on that expedition would not return home. Two-thirds of those on the 1879 Jeannette expedition were lost. Adolphus Greely's 1881 journey resulted in 75% casualties.

And then there was Charles Francis Hall's 1871 Polaris expedition. Hall himself was poisoned early on (though we don't know if it was accidental or purposeful). The leaderless expedition went to pieces -- one large party floated south on an iceberg, "more like ghosts than men" indeed. Similarly John Ross's 1829-1833 Northwest Passage expedition, which abandoned its engine after one year, its ship after two, and was seeing men die of scurvy by the third; they eventually went into Baffin Bay in lifeboats hoping for rescue before they starved.

I'm amazed there isn't a movie about Ross, even more so that there isn't one about Hall. This song isn't about him -- no arctic expedition, and no whaler either, ever carried five hundred men; fifty is more like it -- but it makes me think about him, and all those other voyages. And besides, winter is coming, and it's about going to the ice.
Anyway, if anyone tells you science isn't exciting, just wait. President Bush wants an expedition to Mars. The people who go on that trip -- who are probably in grade school today -- will be like the arctic explorers, more isolated than anyone who has lived in the twentieth century. But they'll need to know science if they want to go on that trip....

This isn't an old-time song; best guess is that it started as a broadside in Ireland, ending up in Newfoundland and Canada, where (I suspect) it was sung mostly by the Baffin Bay whalers. This version was collected by Edith Fowke from O. J. Abbott, who gave her dozens of excellent songs. I picked it up from one of my favorite records, Margaret Christl and Ian Robb's The Barley Grain for Me, which is sort of Canadian Old-Time. I've never heard it sung with an accompaniment, so I haven't marked chords in the music."

from

http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-BanksNewfoundland.html



Please note that there is a PDF file in that link which gives the music for the song as well as the above excellent article by Bob Waltz.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 09:23 PM

Sorry, that was me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 09:29 PM

Read twice then cut and paste once.

Here is a link to the OP's reference in Chapter 23 of "TI" by RLS.

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:-diA1BEvFRcJ:www.classicreader.com/book/86/23/+but+one+man+of+her+crew+alive+what+put+to+se


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: semi-submersible
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 11:26 PM

Ships of the line carried hundreds of men, sailors and soldiers together, so five hundred could sound plausible to those used to hearing about such voyages. Tennyson's "The Revenge, A Ballad of the Fleet" mentions how woefully undermanned this smallest of British warships was, trying to sail away with "only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight."


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Dmitri Sofronov
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 03:59 AM

Yes, semi-submersible, ships of the line carried a lot of people, however, five hundred seems a little bit stretched even for a man-o'-war. (Not seventy-five, of course.) I was thinking of a different thing, that this kind of exaggeration seems quite in the line of shanties - take the Irish Rover, for one:
On the Fourth of July, 1806
We set sail from the sweet Cobh of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the Grand City Hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft
She was rigged fore and aft
And oh, how the wild wind drove her
She stood several blasts
She had twenty seven masts
And they called her The Irish Rover

We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stones
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides'
We had four million barrels of bones
We had five million hogs
six million dogs
Seven million barrels of porter
We had eight million barrels of old nanny goate tails
In the hold of the Irish Rover

http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/The-Irish-Rover-with-The-Dubliners-lyrics-Pogues/07732FED8885095A48256A2600145F4B


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Dmitri Sofronov
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 04:08 AM

...and, I guess some people thought I was looking for the Banks of Newfoundland... I was not! I found lots of versions of the song, but this is not the one. I only mentioned it because of a (very vague) similarity between a line from the Banks and the song in Treasure Island. Droop and quaver at the end of the verse - nothing like it in the Banks!

Dmitri


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 05:10 AM

The phrase could also possibly be influenced by RLS's memory of some verses from W S Gilbert's 1866 Bab Ballads; The Yarn of the Nancy Bell.

...'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian Sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

'And pretty nigh all the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said 'Here!' to the muster-roll...

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: semi-submersible
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 05:39 AM

That's a great yarn you quoted there! Reminds me of the story of a boastful traveller, regaling the yokels with an account of a ship so huge that a boy grew to an old man just walking from stem to stern. One of the local lads replied with a description of a tree so tall that a bird's nest falling from the treetop could hatch and fledge the young birds before they reached ground. When the traveller protested that such a tree did not exist, the yokel asked him, "Then where did they get the masts for your ship?"

I did not mean that five hundred men was realistic. I only said that it would appear more plausible to those most familiar with the stories of ships sailing out for plunder on the Spanish Main. I'm not sure how many sailors and marines a man-o'-war might carry when setting out to grapple with Bonaparte's fleets, or in quest of Spanish treasure-ships... but my mind simply cannot conceive of five hundred sailors in a vessel out of Quebec. No-one could accuse that fine ballad of excessive realism though anyhow.

Good luck finding the song Stevenson described.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 06:38 AM

The OP speculates as to whether RLS was writing of 'a real shanty':- just to remind, a shanty is a work song, while the song as described would have been a forebitter, or off-duty song, or focsle song, not a shanty. Stevenson does describe shanty singing in an earlier chapter (ch 10) of Treasure Island, when the crew at the capstan ask Silver for a song to assist in their heaving and he sings the "15 Men On The Dead Man's Chest" theme song of the novel, with its chorus "Yo Ho & A Bottle Of Rum", to which the men heave - a song which does appear to be Stevenson's own invention. This would have been somewhat early for shanty singing, in fact, according to Hugill, as Treasure Island is set in about the 1750s or 60s - Dr Livesey had served at the battle of Fontenoy, 1745, some years befor the novel begins - whereas shanty singing was a feature of the merchant service [never of the Royal Navy, USN, &c] from second decade of 19C & onward.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Dmitri Sofronov
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 07:32 AM

Matthew:
Thanks for the Nancy Bell - interesting parallels with the Banks of Newfoundland; cannibalism, too! It reminded me of an old joke about cannibals who captured a crew of a ship where there were two cooks. Asked how many cooks they should boil for dinner, the cannibal chief answered, 'One of course! Too many cooks will spoil the broth.'

Any ideas as to the tune the Nancy Bell might be sung to? I usually look for a song of a similar rhythmical pattern if I can't find a tune, like Oh my name it is Sam Hall chimney sweep, Ye Jacobites by name, and Admiral Benbow - although sung to different tunes, you can switch them easily. I mean, don't you know a song that might be a tune to the Nancy Bell as well?

And this droop and quaver - a mad idea came to my mind, couldn't Stevenson allude to a typical baroque coda, trill and resolution to the key note? I just wondered if it could be this...

semi-submersible:
I once saw a Chinese documentary your boastful yarn reminds me of, about the Chinese war fleet of the 15th century. They had supply ships as huge as I don't know what - they had crop fields and cattle farms on board. The design of the ships was generally the same as that of the junk, only much much bigger. I'd say, with a consort like this, you could easily handle a 500 hands crew!


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: Dmitri Sofronov
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 07:42 AM

MtheGM:
Thank you for clearing the matter up; I thought 'shanty' meant simply a sailors' song... In the Broadway musical, they extended the lyrics and invented tune and made a focsle song out of the shanty - I never liked it, and invented my own tune to the Fifteen Men, making it sound more like a work song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: semi-submersible
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 07:56 AM

I cross posted with Matthew. I meant to compliment Irish Rover, but Nancy Bell is a great yarn too, replete with macabre humour. Banks of Newfoundland had reminded me of it already, but I didn't know that it was published well before Treasure Island (1883, says Wikipedia).

The dates are suggestive, as is the close correspondence of detail. Gilbert's old man even rhymes his riddle "in a singular minor key." Though there may have been many other such tragedies floating around, it's easy to imagine that Stevenson either unconsciously, or deliberately recycled it, stripping out the literary source that would so ill fit the realistic and foreboding scene into which he transplanted the yarn.


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Subject: RE: Origins: But one man of her crew alive...
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 16 - 02:41 PM

"I'm not sure how many sailors and marines a man-o'-war might carry when setting out to grapple with Bonaparte's fleets"

500 to 700 for a 74-gun third rate; 850 to 1,000 for a first rate ship like HMS Victory.


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