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Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to a Mermaid

DigiTrad:
MERMAID (RULE BRITANNIA) (2)
THE MERMAID (3)
THE MERMAID (4)


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Merman / blow ye winds (10)
Lyr Req: Marri-i-ed to a Merm-i-ed (23)


Lesley N. 25 Nov 99 - 09:25 AM
Marion 25 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Nov 99 - 02:29 PM
Murray on Saltspring 25 Nov 99 - 03:43 PM
bigJ 25 Nov 99 - 05:01 PM
Lesley N. 25 Nov 99 - 06:15 PM
Lesley N. 25 Nov 99 - 06:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Nov 99 - 08:18 PM
GeorgeH 26 Nov 99 - 11:24 AM
Lesley N. 26 Nov 99 - 05:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Nov 99 - 08:23 PM
Lesley N. 27 Nov 99 - 12:36 AM
Boarding Party (KC) 27 Nov 99 - 07:28 AM
Lesley N. 27 Nov 99 - 08:20 AM
Boarding Party (KC) 27 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Nov 99 - 09:24 PM
Lesley N. 28 Nov 99 - 07:45 AM
JWB 29 May 07 - 10:36 PM
GUEST 30 May 07 - 02:46 AM
s&r 30 May 07 - 02:50 AM
JWB 30 May 07 - 10:01 AM
s&r 30 May 07 - 10:21 AM
s&r 30 May 07 - 10:26 AM
Snuffy 30 May 07 - 11:01 AM
Kevin Sheils 30 May 07 - 11:06 AM
s&r 31 May 07 - 03:39 AM
Mo the caller 31 May 07 - 06:57 AM
Leadfingers 31 May 07 - 01:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jun 07 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,duncan kerr 08 Nov 10 - 11:39 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 10 - 01:45 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Jul 12 - 03:53 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM
MGM·Lion 20 Jul 12 - 04:11 AM
Nigel Parsons 20 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM
GUEST 20 Jul 12 - 05:41 AM
TheSnail 20 Jul 12 - 05:46 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 12 - 04:20 PM
GUEST 21 Jul 12 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Grishka 22 Jul 12 - 12:49 PM
GUEST 22 Jul 12 - 03:36 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jul 12 - 03:39 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 12 - 06:30 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jul 12 - 06:48 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Jul 12 - 05:57 PM
Gibb Sahib 23 Jul 12 - 06:06 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Jul 12 - 06:10 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Jul 12 - 06:37 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Jul 12 - 08:52 PM
Joe_F 25 Jul 12 - 09:06 PM
GUEST 27 May 14 - 07:03 PM
GUEST 27 May 14 - 07:07 PM
GUEST 28 May 14 - 09:15 AM
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Subject: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 09:25 AM

I'm looking for some history to the song. I've discovered that James Thompson (1700-1748)/David Mallet was the originator of the words in their play Alfred. The air was written by Dr. Thomas Arne.

The words were adapted into the sea shanty The Mermaid (in DT) or Married to a Mermaid:

There was a gay young farmer,
Who liv'd on Salisbury plain;
He lov'd a rich Knight's daughter dear!
And she lov'd him again.
The Knight he was distressed,
That they should sweethearts be.
So he had the farmer soon pressed,
And sent him off to sea.
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


'Twas on the deep Atlantic,
Midst Equinoctial gales;
This young farmer fell overboard
Among the sharks and whales;
He disappeared so quickly,
So headlong down went he,
that he went out of sight
Like a streak of light
to the bottom of the deep blue sea.
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


We lowered a boat to find him,
We thought to see his corse,
When up to the top he came with a bang,
And sang in a voice so hoarse,
'My comrades and my messmates,
Oh, do not weep for me,
For I'm married to a mermaid,
At the bottom of the deep blue sea.'
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


He said that as he went down,
Great fishes he did see;
They seemed to think as he did wink,
That he was rather free.
But down he went so quickly,
Saying, ''Tis all up with me,'
When he met a lovely mermaid
At the bottom of the deep blue sea.
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


She came at once unto him,
And gave him her white band,
Saying, 'I have waited long, my dear,
To welcome you to land.
Go to your ship and tell them,
You'll leave them all for me;
For you're married to a mermaid
At the bottom of the deep blue sea.'
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


The wind was fair, the sails set,
The ship was running free;
When we all went to the captain bold,
And told what we did see.
He went unto the ship's side,
And loudly bellowed he,
'Be happy as you can, my man,
At the bottom of the deep blue sea.'
Singing Rule Britannia,
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves...


Here are the words to Rule Britannia:

When Britain first, at Heaven's command
Arose from out the azure main;
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:

Chorus
Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The nations, not so blest as thee
Must, in their turns to tyrants fall
Must, in their turns to tyrants fall
While thou shalt flourish, shalt flourish great and free
The dread and envy of them all.
(Chorus)

Still more majestic shalt thou rise
More dreadful from each foreign stroke
More dreadful from each foreign stroke
As the loud blast, the blast that tears the skies
Serves but to root thy native oak.
(Chorus)

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame
All their attempts to bend thee down
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse, arouse thy generous flame
But work their woe, and thy renown.
(Chorus)

To thee belongs the rural reign
Thy cities shall with commerce shine
Thy ci-ties shall with commerce shine
All thine shall be, shall be the subject main
And every shore it circles thine.
(Chorus)

The Muses, still with freedom found
Shall to thy happy coast repair
Shall to thy happy coast repair
Blest isle with matchless, with matchless beauty crowned
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
(Chorus)
^^

There's no information in Hugill, Whall, Shay or Doerflinger - at least under those titles. I'm curious to know if there's anything information about the shanty -when it became popular in that form - that sort of thing... Of course there's probably no exact telling - but surely someone must have speculated!

As always, thanks!


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Marion
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM

No history, but I've heard a quote on the subject that I thought compelling:

"We sing that Britons will never be slaves; it's when we learn to sing that Britons will never be masters that there is a hope for peace."

Sorry, no idea of source.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 02:29 PM

Now I've always known the Rule Britannia chorus as belonging to "My Father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light" - which is in the Digital Tradition, but without the chorus - which goes:

"Rule Britannia,Britannia Rule the Waves
- Britons never never never shall be -
marr-i-ed to a mer=ma-id,
at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

I think it was at Walton Foklk Festival a couple of years ago there were some foreign dancers (Romanian I think) who got very confused with this. When the chorus came, they recognised the Rule Britannia bit and joined in, and then got thriown bynthe last verse. "Is Patriotic song?" one whispered to me with a worried look. So I reassured him that it was.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Murray on Saltspring
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 03:43 PM

We're getting mixed up here. The "Eddystone Light" song has a chorus, i.e. "Yo ho ho, the wind blows free, / O for a life on the rolling sea."
The "married to a mermaid" chorus belongs with that fishy song, and just STARTS with Rule B -- that is,
Singing Rule, Britannia, Britannia rule the waves,
Britons never never shall be
Marr-i-ed to a mer-mai-ed [!] at the bottom of the deep blue sea.
That song can't be counted a sea-shanty, tho it might have been sung in the mess over the grog. It's really a music-hall sort of thing, a "student song" actually, and is in I think the Scottish Student Song Book, for one. I can look this up if you like.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: bigJ
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 05:01 PM

According to William Chappell's 'Popular Music of the Olden Time' Vol 2 pp686-689, the tune was written by Dr Arne for the masque Alfred and given its first performance on the 1st August, 1740. Says Chappell, 'The words of the masque were by Thomson & Mallett, but Thomson seems to have taken the lead in the affair, since, in newspapers of the day, he alone is mentioned as the author'. As for 'Mar-i-ed to a Mer-mi-ed', well you'll find a version of it in the Burl Ives book of Sea Songs (Ballantine 1956 pp122-123, also in 'Chantying Aboard American Ships' Frederick Harlow. I dont know much about the second version - apart from singing it - but I got that version from an old recording of John Foreman's called 'The 'Ouses in Between'. Burl Ives also recorded it on an LP called 'Down to the Sea in Ships', I think. Somehow the name of Charles Dibdin seems to suggest itself to me as th author.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 06:15 PM

All of the information seems to track with what I've found about the original song. Now I'm a bit confused as to Eddystone Light... So in some versions it starts with Rule Britannia/Mermaid version and others it has that chorus? In either case it would then appear that Married to a Mermaid was in place before that version of My Father was a keeper at Eddystone light (as there not being any mention of mermaids in the original version). So now I need to look up the history of Eddystone light?

The version in the Scottish Student's Songbook is not the pseudo-chanty. The version I got was in a Boosey songbook circa 1870. It doesn't seem like Dibdin lyrics to me - but as he wrote hundreds and I'm only familiar with about five, my opinion is far from expert!


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 06:24 PM

Ah - just looked closer at the Scottish Students Songbook (thanks Murray) and sure enough The Mermaid/Rule Britanni version is there - (as is the other which is what threw me for a loop momentarily). It notes that the words are by A.J.C., printed by permission of Edwin Ashdown, Limited, London. Does this give anyone a clue as to who A.J. C. might be?????


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 08:18 PM

No Murray on Saltspring, we're not getting mixed up. There are (at least) two songs about blokes marrying mermaids, and both of them can be and are sung with choruses incorporating Rule Brittania.

That's the beauty of the folk process. Choruses, verses plots and tunes can move around as they wish, as we wish.

There is no "right" or "wrong" way. There are original versions, which can sometimes be traced. There are versions which sing well, and some which don't sing so well. There are cases where one song will divide into two, and others where two songs will converge into one.

"There are four and twenty ways
of constructing tribal lays
and every single one of them is Right.
(Rudyard Kipliong.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GeorgeH
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:24 AM

All very interesting, but what reason does Lesley N have for suggesting that song as a Shanty in the first place?? It may have been described as such, but I can't get it to work as a work song; it has much more the "feel" of a popular song.

But Marion, I loved your quote. And would recommend Pete Coe's performance of "Kings and Queens of England" which also parodies RB in its chorus, to "Britania waives the rules". Much preferable, IMO.

G.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 05:15 PM

My source for it is Fifty Sailors' Songs or Chanties - Boosey circa 1870. And it does in fact say it is a chanty. I agree with you that it doesn't have much the feel of a shanty to me. But then several songs that are shanties don't - at least not in the incarnations I'm familiar with - songs like Spanish Ladies or The Stormy Winds Do Blow (the other Mermaid song).

I believe I've read a few times at DT that many shanties lost their shanty character when they came to land (or when the days of working to shanties passed). I'd bet Digital Shantymen like Barry could come up with a huge list - heck they might have already done so in another thread!


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 08:23 PM

Stan Hugill distinguishes between shanties, which you sang while you worked, to help you keep working, and forebitters, which you sang off duty.

Of course some shanties would be sung as forebitter songs as well, and a forebitter might be used as a shanty, if it had the right kind of rythym for a particular type of work. I can't see this one being used that way though.

Sometimes people use "shanty" loosely to mean sailors songs, but I think it's better to keep the term for work songs. It doesn't mean the other ones aren't just as authentic sailor songs. As are, for example Cyril Tawneys songs, from a time after there was a place for "shanties" as such. (Not that they ever allowed shanties in the Royal Navy.)


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:36 AM

I agree it would be much better to stick to the term shanty as songs done for work. It is frustrating in the extreme, however, to hear Spanish Ladies referred to as a capstan shanty and listen to it knowing full well no one could get a lick of work done around a capstan to the tune as it is known today! I have that problem with several songs on my sea songs page. So I think there should be a special category for tunes once done as shanties that no longer resemble what they were. I can't imagine Married to a Mermaid in a form that was used for work, so I agree with the opinons that it is probably more accurately referred to as a song sung at sea rather than a shanty.

It was quite a shock to me to listen to a tape from Mystic that performed shanties in the original manner. After adjusting to it, there was a moment of satori - wow - they really did work to this stuff.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Boarding Party (KC)
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 07:28 AM

Lesley N., Funny you should consider Spanish Ladies a lubberly song. I hear the swaying stamp, stamp of good (but slow) 6/8 march around the capstan. Perhaps it was one of those mermaid-y chaps trying to spruce it up? There are a few bits about Spanish Ladies that make it an even more interesting shanty.

First, in several sets of verses I recall, is a tutorial in homeward bound sailing directions - sort of a singing nautical almanac. One version calls out the visible headlands approaching England from the West. Another calls out rocks and shoals approaching Newfoundland. Others yet recount the directions to various ports in New England. Very practical stuff at sea but of absolutely no use on land.

The other facet of this song, as I've heard it, is that Spanish Ladies was one of the few shanties allowed and used aaboard British Men of War. Some hold that shanties were at best disorderly and near mutinous at worst. Given that war ships were manned to sail and fight at the same time, they rarely wanted for hands, particularly at the capstan.

Your older (pre-19th century) songs may or may not have been "true" shanties whose golden age didn't dawn until the economics of steam drove the size of merchant sailing vessel crews down to the point where shanties were not just an an amusing relief but a mechanical imperative.

I can't Stan for any of these details since its packed for a move - knew I should have kept it handy.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 08:20 AM

Good point! The problem is probably that I've never stamped around a capstan and haven't a clue what time would be best! I suspect ANY music would be helpful at such a time as long as it got everyone into the same rythym - well, maybe a rhumba wouldn't be so great.

Spanish Ladies is one of my favorite tunes which is also why I pick on it as an example of a workless shanty (from this lubbers point of view that is). I'd forgotten about the tutorial aspect of it. However, some of that has always amused me as the line from Ushant to Scily is ____ leagues is variously given as 34, 35 and 45 - and the depth of the Channel also varies from 55 to 45 fathoms by version. Exactly how many leagues IS Ushant from Sicily? But, of course, these could have been messed up when the song settled on land - and the depth of the channel probably varies anyway...

Interesting stuff about it being the only song allowed. I'd love to find a good book on shanties in the services. I just found a terrific one about grog ("Nelson's Blood") and am going to put a page on my website about that much neglected subject. (Dad was a sea captain - unfortunately in the US Navy, which stopped issuing grog in 1862 - but as a result we have the terrific song Farewell to Grog.)


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Boarding Party (KC)
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 06:43 PM

The Commodore by Patrick O'Brian Chapter One Thick weather in the chops of the Channel and a dirty night, with the strong north-east wind bringing rain from the low sky and racing cloud; Ushant somewhere away on the starboard bow, the Scillies to larboard, but never a light, never a star to be seen; and no observation for the last four days.

Ushant - 48° 27' N - 05° 07' W home to the Creac'h lighthouse built in 1863 Height of the tower : 179.95ft Visible range : 34 miles Candle power : 20,000,000 Light : A group of two white flashes every 10 seconds

Isles of Scilly (or the Scillies) Bishops Rock lies at 49° 53'N - 06° 26'W http://www.rosevear.demon.co.uk/index.htm

A very rough guess based on Bowditch puts the two points 51.62 leagues appart. Doesn't scan very well. There might be some part of the Isles of Scilly that are closer but its safer to portray the passage as closer than wider.

Now Nelson's Blood - My mates and I were quite partial to Pusser's Rum, a linear descendent. Unfortunately the Major sold out to some spirts conglomerate who have smashed the crockery jugs and taken all the salt and lore out. The new label replaces the union jack with the name Pusser's in curliques.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 09:24 PM

When Stan Hugill was recording "Shanties of the Seven Seas" many years ago, down in the cellar of Cecil Sharp House in London, he was very keen on keeping them authentic as working shanties.

So he had the shanty crew (of which I was one) walking round in a circle for the capstan shanties, till we got it right, and hauling on cables for some of the other songs - whatever was the appropriate kind of activity.

So that's a good record to get if you want to work out the authentic kind of speed and rythym.

Most people sing shanties far too fast to be used as work songs. The same is true of Amwerican convict work songs. But then when sailors were singing shanties away from work, as forebitters, they wouldn't feel obliged to be "authentic", they'd sing at whatever speed felt right.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Lesley N.
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:45 AM

What a great tale. I did a search for Stan's album and didn't find it. Is it still available from somewhere?


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: JWB
Date: 29 May 07 - 10:36 PM

I know a version of Married to a Mermaid with a different set of words for the Rule Brittania chorus. But it seems to be Brit slang. I've not seen the words in writing (they don't appear in any of the versions in the DT or the Forum). Would one of you proper English blokes please translate?

Here's the chorus as I heard in on the LP (now gone from my shelf, for some reason -- it's Tom Goux and Jacek Sulanowki's recording of sea music titled "Born of Another Time"):

Rule Brittania, two tanners make a bob.
Five make two and six and one for his knob.

With the album is a nice set of liner notes, but until I locate the LP I can't check those either. What I need is a librarian to help me keep track of things.

I appreciate any assistance you can render.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 07 - 02:46 AM

Tanner = slang for a small coin worth sixpence (pre-decimalisation)
Two and six = half a crown = thirty old pence = five tanners.

I knew this as "five make half a crown and four make two bob"
Two bob = two shillings = 2x12 pence

Stu


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: s&r
Date: 30 May 07 - 02:50 AM

Last was me without cookie. bob = shilling. Crown - five shillings. Twenty shillings = 1pound £1. Sovereign = one pound £1 Guinea = one pound+one shilling.

Stu

ps Oh for the days of pre-decimal coins.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: JWB
Date: 30 May 07 - 10:01 AM

Thanks, Stu, sounds like the chorus is a mnemonic for making change. Very odd -- what's small change got to do with mermaids or the rule of Brittania, for that matter?

Any idea what a "knob" is?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: s&r
Date: 30 May 07 - 10:21 AM

Apart from the obvious, knob=penis (vulgar) nob=head(coll)

Could be to do with the image of Brittania on the reverse of the old penny (lady in a chariot with trident in the approximate shape of Britain.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: s&r
Date: 30 May 07 - 10:26 AM

picture of early penny
Later pennies had different pics of Britannia.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Snuffy
Date: 30 May 07 - 11:01 AM

"ONE FOR HIS KNOB" usually refers to the extra point you can claim in cribbage if you hold a jack of the same suit as the turned-up card.

In this context the whole chorus is probably just a variation on fol-de-riddle-i-do etc.


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 30 May 07 - 11:06 AM

And IIRC "two for his heels" can be claimed by the dealer if a jack is the turned up card.

Of course "two for his heels" means little to a mermaid (to get back on topic!).


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: s&r
Date: 31 May 07 - 03:39 AM

"He's a nob" = member of the nobility. Compare with "he's a knob". We knew one for his nob (not knob) at cribbage.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Mo the caller
Date: 31 May 07 - 06:57 AM

One for his nob (if you hold a Jack of the suit of the turn-up)
Two for his heels (if you turn up a Jack)_

So his knob must mean his head. (Well, that was what my Dad said anyway, and I can't imagine any other versions.....)


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 May 07 - 01:59 PM

I have the D T song 'The Mermaid' as 'Twas in the Broad Atlantic' from the Oxford Book Of Song - Originally learnt at school age fourteen , re learned from the book borrowed from John Boyd Hyland in Singapore in 1969 !


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Subject: RE: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jun 07 - 05:01 PM

Correction to comment by Lesley N., 26 Nov. 99:

"Married to a Mermaid/Rule Britannia" is not called a chantey in "50 Sailors' Songs or Chanties", Compiled by Captain Frederick J. Davis RNR, "late Captain in the Mercantile Marine," and Ferris Tozer); Boosey & Co. Ltd. c. 1887.
It is called a "General Song," along with Eight Bells, Salt Horse, The Dead Horse, The Stormy Winds Do Blow, and Farewell and Adieu to You.
The other categories by Davis, the chanteys, are "Anchor Songs," Setting Sail Songs," Song for Furling Sail," "Songs for Pumping the Ship Out."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST,duncan kerr
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:39 AM

would love more info o frederick j davis as he is my great grandfather. the family have a book of compiled letters and paper cuttings but little of him as a individual.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:45 PM

I know this is a revived old thread but there is another thread somewhere with the background info on both of Arthur Lloyd's 'mermaid' songs. What is interesting here, if I've read it correctly, is that the 'Married to a Mermaid' song predates Lloyd. The other Lloyd song mentioned is correctly titled 'The Man at the Nore'.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 03:53 PM

An important piece of info is missing from this thread. Which is that L.A. Smith had the song in her 1888 The Music of the Waters. She claimed to have collected it from a sailor, and that he provided the tune to her (even writing it down), of his own make.

That this sailor got the song from the music hall stage seems pretty obvious (?), however in lieu of any musical scores of Lloyd's melody, I wonder if maybe the sailors (or this one in particular) had their own melody. (For the verses, not the Rule, Britannia chorus.) The melody in Smith's book is pretty rough.

I believe it must be Smith's collected version that Davis and Tozer used as a source in their 1891 (not 1870) THIRD edition. This is an edition where they beefed it up by borrowing songs from Smith. Yet Smith's melody did not quite fit -- not quite regular, not fitting the meter. So they must have "normalized" it and made it work. They also must have (I think) changed words to fit the meter, and according to their sensibilities. For example, Smith's "rich young farmer" gets changed to "gay young farmer." Overall, Davis/Tozer's text is more "literary" sounding.

L.A. Smith and Davis/Tozer both would seem to have been unaware of Arthur Lloyd's song. If Smith had known it, she would not have called it a sailor song, and if Davis/Tozer had known it, their version would not have conformed so closely to Smith's (and not Lloyd's).

It was Harlow who slapped the label of "capstan" on the song, implying it was a chanty without saying so. It comes in the section of his 1962 collection, where he is just throwing a mixed bag of songs together, usually from secondary sources or 20th century informants. Harlow definitely read Davis and Tozer, and to me it looks like the version he gives is based in that book. However, it looks like he also reconstructed some ines with the help of original texts of Lloyd's version.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM

From: Kevin Sheils - PM
Date: 30 May 07 - 11:06 AM

And IIRC "two for his heels" can be claimed by the dealer if a jack is the turned up card.

Of course "two for his heels" means little to a mermaid (to get back on topic!).

A bit late for a correction, but ...
"Two for his heels" is not claimed by the dealer, but by the other player, the one who has cut the cards, revealing the jack.

Just my two-pennorth (that's two old pence, = 1/120 of a pound)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 04:11 AM

And to be accurate about the spelling [i.e. nob=head, not knob=some·other·anatomical·feature] ~~

Edmond Hoyle, 1672 - 1769, author of the definitively accepted "Games" of 1743 (whence the phrase "according to Hoyle" meaning "according to universally accepted authority") wrote:

"If the hand chance to contain a knave of the same suit as the turn-up card, the holder is entitled to score one point, "for his nob".

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM

And, for another variation:

Singing, Rule Britannia,
No matter what you've paid
Eggs are never never never
Quite new-laid


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 05:41 AM

Nigel

Youre wrong. I play a lot of cribbage and "2 for his heels is claimed by the player who has the box (crib) - i.e. the dealer.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: TheSnail
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 05:46 AM

Or as we we had it when I was at school-

Rule Britannia
Marmalade and Jam
Five Chines crackers up your arsehole
Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 04:20 PM

Nigel
You're little snippet is from 'The Egg' which has its own thread somerwhere.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 01:15 PM

What I heard from an expat Englishman back in theearly 50's was:

Mary, she was pretty; Mary she was witty,
She went into the city
Just to serve on a committee.
A man on the committee, just to prove that he was witty
Smote Mary on the titty with a hard boiled egg.
    Rule, Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,
    Britons never never shall be
    Smitten on the titty with a hard boiled egg.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 12:49 PM

Before this thread once more sinks to the bottom of the deep blue sea, I must protest against the version
Britons never never never shall be -
marr-i-ed to a mer-may-id,
at the bottom of the deep blue sea.
which admittedly is very funny, but politically incorrect, blatantly advocating racism, apartheid, and discrimination by sexual preference. Gay British farmers have the right to marry whom they choose (provided legal age and mutual consent)!

I found the tune somewhere else, I think it ought to be archived in the DigiTrad as well - for strictly scientific purposes, of course.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 03:36 PM

I've no comment at all on its origins but I first encountered the "married to a mermaid" version when I was playing rugby in Cornwall in the mid-1970s. It was one of those self-contained doggerel pieces like "Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends" or the elsewhere -scorned "Right Up Yer Kilt" chorus to "Wild Rover"


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 03:39 PM

Has anyone any thoughts about the melody in the solo sections of "Married to a Mermaid"? I am assuming that the "Rule, Britannia!" chorus was merely tacked on.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 06:30 PM

What sort of thoughts, Gibb?
I have a copy of the original.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 06:48 PM

Hi Steve
Do you mean the original from 1860s?

The earliest text with melody that I've seen is the one in L.A. Smith. She was led to believe that the sailor (or he and his shipmates) from whom she got it had made up the melody. I can't determine whether that melody was really just the music hall's melody (as one would expect), or something different.

I believe that L.A. Smith the text gave birth to several later versions, so they don't really help.

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 05:57 PM

Gibb
I've got the original and Smith and can compare if you wish although I'm not a competent dot reader.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 06:06 PM

Sure, Steve, if you can do so, that would be interesting.

I'm still not 100% clear on what you mean by "the original." Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 06:10 PM

I presume as per OP we are talking about Arthur Lloyd's 'Married to a Mermaid'.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 06:37 PM

Gibb
Smith's tune is note for note the sheet music, even in the same key!
The words are ascribed to AJC who I will try to identify. Kilgarriff gives the initials wrongly as ALC and states this is the pseudonym of Wm Makepeace Thackeray. It is definitely Thackeray's style (a la Little Billee) but he has got the initials wrong if it is. If it is WMT I would expect to find it in one of his books of ballads which I have somewhere. The sheet music says arranged by Michael Watson and Kil interprets this as MW wrote the tune which is not really the case.
It was published by H D'Alcorn in 1866. The cover is a famous one with Lloyd dressed as a sailor at the bottom of the sea greeting a pretty young mermaid.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Jul 12 - 08:52 PM

That's incredible, Steve!
Smith's notation is a bit "off" as far as proper notation goes, so I have no doubt that she collected the melody from a personal informant.

This just means that the sailor informant was indeed singing the melody as it was known on the stage.

Thanks for checking on it.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 09:06 PM

I recall a satirical version, I think published in _Punch_ about 1959, that ended

Fool, Britannia! It never got you much.
Learn to dwi-i-i-i-indle like the Dutch.

That was about the time they were getting the hell out of Cyprus.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 14 - 07:03 PM

Head


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 14 - 07:07 PM

Rule two tanners, two tanners make a bob

King George never never never shaves his nob (head)


This was in a
school book we had in the mid -late 60s


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Subject: RE: Origin: Rule Britannia/Married to Mermaid
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 14 - 09:15 AM

I only ever heard it from the generation before me in the family, Royal Marines and Portsmouth men, whose parentage included the Queen's Pilot, the hereditary heads of the Pilotage Service between Spithead and the Nore in the days of Queen Victoria.
The version they sang was the Trad version of The Mermaid, with the exception of the last lines of the chorus, "we poor sailormen go up-up-up aloft, With the land-lubbers lying down below-below-below, With the land-lubbers lyin down below". They also similarly doubled the last line of the verse.
They then almost certainly borrowed Arthur Lloyd's chorus, probably in WWI when it was a fairly common practice to wrap things up with some jingoism, "Rule Brittania, Brittania Rules the Waves, For Brittons never never never shall be " - and then reverted to the line from the song "Married to a Mer-ma-yid at the bottom of the deep blue sea."
Mind you, as the family originally hailed from Orkney, there may be some insider knowledge...



The family itself is from Orkney origins, so we begin to see a tradition


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