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Gibb Sahib Origins: What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor (48) RE: Origins: Drunken Sailor-Dickens question for Gibb 06 Mar 16


Hi, M,

No, I don't agree. In brief, "booble alley" (what I presume to be the basis of your hypothesis) can be considered a floating lyric or an improvisation as it appears in ONE "Haul Away for Rosie" text of the 20th century. I don't believe it marks that item of repertoire.

For reasons I'd rather not get into here (for time reasons alone -- absolutely nothing personal about it, and I'd love to discuss, but alas... ) ... I suspect Melville may have cribbed that from Frederick Marryat's published description of "Sally Brown" -- which was brand new to the seasoned mariner Marryat when he heard it in 1837. (See my paper, above, for the detail.) It is entirely possible that Melville knew "Sally Brown" first hand, too, but I tend to doubt he experienced that during his career on ACUSHNET.

That, being "Sally Brown," makes up part of the "very little" in my statement! I hypothesize that "Sally Brown" was among the very earliest of the songs that fit into the song genre of chanties, which was only beginning to become established in certain ships / routes during Melville's sea days. That Melville's _Moby Dick_ considered to be a tome of detail about everything mariners experienced gives hardly a mention to things we recognize as chanties is, therefore, in accordance with his experience (or lack thereof).


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