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posted December 2004
Sailors' Snug Harbor Yarns and Ballads
with Drawings by
and a Foreword by
JOSEPH C. LINCOLN
New York and London
D. APPLETON & COMPANY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
THIS BOOK IS
CAPTAIN GEORGE E. BECKWITH,
GOVERNOR OF SAILORS' SNUG HARBOR,
A GENTLEMAN AND A TRUE SAILORS' FRIEND
"Sailors' Snug Harbor Yarns and Ballads" ring true. I did enjoy them. I have never met Captain Frank Waters, although I am hoping that, some day, that privilege may be mine. But I have met and known a great many similar men of the old "square-rigger" breed. When I was a youngster in the '70's our town was full of them. Now there are but very, very few and none growing up to take their places. Practically the last old windjammer has gone to the bottom or been broken up for junk, and almost the old shellback has vanished from the dry, as well as the wet, places of this earth.
There are, fortunately, a few of them still left, however, and of these Captain Waters is one. I wish I might make him understand how these yarns of his take me back to a certain little post-office waiting room in a seashore village. A dingy, close little room, with, in winter, an old "air-tight," wood-burning stove glowing red hot in the center of it, a wooden box full of sand placed conveniently near it,
and a dozen skippers, active and home on shore leave or retired and home "for keeps," with a sprinkling of first and second masters and able seamen, sitting or standing about waiting for the mail and swapping sea talk. A good deal of their talk and yarns I, as a perfectly brought up youngster, was not supposed to hear. Now, at this safely remote age, I am willing to confess that I did hear it and to affirm that I am glad I did.
The yarns I heard then were not Sunday-school tales, many of them. They dealt with rough men afloat on rough water or ashore in the toughest sections of far-away outlandish ports. But, rough or decorous, they had a flavor, a tarry, briny smack which was all their own. The old sea dogs who told them were relating first-hand experiences or were exchanging professional jokes current in their trade. I found one or two old favorites in this collection. I had heard before how Ben Breeze came to be called "Gaff Tops'l Ben." So when I read Captain Waters' version of the incident I laughed again with an old acquaintance, one whom I had almost forgotten.
As I understand it, the Captain's manuscript comes to the reader just as it was writ-
ten. It has not been over-edited, nor carefully repunctuated, nor have its capital letters been picked out and re-sorted. This will, I think, be one of its greatest attractions to one who, like myself, loves to remember the deep sea life as it used really to be. You are to consider, I take it, that Captain Waters is sitting beside you at the Snug Harbor, spinning his yarns and singing his songs. If you expect to read a smooth, grammatical literary effort you are going to be disappointed. The majority of "square-rig" seamen of my acquaintance were neither over precise in grammar nor in the least literary.
With that understanding, knowing what is before you and, of course, liking the sea and the sea folk, you will have a good time. You will enjoy reading of Paddy Mullins and his friend the elephant; of Sir Ramagee Fram-agee—that name alone is worth the price of admission—and his garden fork; of Clam Quinn and Copper Lined Jake, and all the rest. And you will end by wishing, as I do, that it may be a long, long time before Captain Frank joins his former messmates on Monkey Hill.
Joseph C. Lincoln.
FOREWORD, by Joseph C. Lincoln
OLD CAP KNOWLES
Unlimbers His Tongue an' Tells How He Was Shanghaied
THE JONAH WIND 19 SANDY MacNAB 25 His Fog-Horn
THE ROPE WITH THE GOLDEN STRANDS 33
GAFF TOPSAIL BEN BREEZE 39
Tells about the Frescoing of Clam Quinn
DAVY JONES'S LOCKER 56
COPPER LINED JAKE 61
His Ghost Story
THE ALBATROSS 71
HARRY PERRY 79
Sometimes Jimmy Star Relieves Copper Lined Jake at the Spinning Wheel
VANISHED TYPES 101
LARRY-PEG-LEG MrGINNIS 105
Runs Afoul of Johnny the Dogs
SHYLOCK--THE SEA COOK 112
BROKEN-NOSE SWEENY 125
Entertains the Gang
SWEET-HEARTS AND WIVES
TOM HARRIS 139
His Yarn of the Swanhilda
A SAILOR'S EPITAPH 151
DAVY JONES'S LOCKER
* * * * * *
From a remote period far back in the annals of time down to the present, it has been customary for the men that "went down to the sea in ships" be it on board of the old Wind Jammers or moderen steam-ships, to refer to all depths beneath the surface of seas and oceans, as "Davy Jones's Locker." Thus, if a vessel foundered at sea carrying all on board down to the deeps of the ocean never to arise to the surface, in nautical parlence the craft and its contents,—cargo if laden—Captain, officers, and crew, and passengers—if any—-had all gone to Davy Jones's locker. The same applied to any person that fell over-board from a vessel or was thrown into the sea, or any article that was thrown, or swept overboard from the deck of a craft, by wind or wave.
* * * * * *
DAVY JONES'S LOCKER
ON the floor of every ocean through-out the
There is a spacious locker, that is claimed by
And though for many centuries he has added to
In Davy Jones's locker, there is always room for
Deep down in the ocean does Davys locker lay,
Where a vast amount of treasure-trove, has Davy
And the floor of his huge locker is strewn with
But yet he hankers after more, does greedy Davy
Armed Galleons bearing burdens of treasure
bound to Spain,
From Western El-Dorados ventured forth to cross
With many bars of silver, and ingots of pure
Precious stones, and trinkets rare, stowed down
in each hold.
And east India ships with cargos of spices, silks
With while wings spread, home-ward bound plied
the seven seas,
But raging tempests howling their requiums in
They foundered in mid-ocean, and went down to
Vessels laden deep with grain, sugar, rice, and
Have sailed from ports across theseas, but never
reached their goal.
Fishing craft, costly yachts, huge grim ships of
All have yielded tribute to Davy Jones's maw.
Swift Mail-liners, with scores of souls on board,
To Davy, also paid the toll, and help increase his
Whether yacht, or stately packet, or an old tramp
When they went to Davys locker, they were all
the same to him.