Interesting Facts about The Powder Monkey
Stan Hugill in his book gives us only a chorus of The Powder Monkey, it seems to be based on “Donkey Ridding” shanty, he didn’t remember the source or composer, of this ditty, the song according to the description from Stan Hugill point this song in time around the 50s of nineteen century.
Unfortunately in “Shanties from the Seven Seas” we can find the only chorus, so I did took the first stanza from this beautiful shore song from Michael Watson, The Powder-Monkey (An Old Salt’s Story) – 50th edition (London: Patey & Willis, [n.d.]), and I add to this first verse-chorus from Stan Hugill. It was also done a bit of musical work because in the book the song was in G note, so I had to transpose it down to F note, to match the chorus from Stan Hugill. Also worth noting that stanzas 2 and 3 are not confirmed. This is the first song from “Shanties from the Seven Seas” which is not shanty or forebitter, as Stan Hugill mentions itself it is a “shore sea-song”, and as a “shore sea-song” will be reconstructed.
The source of this sea shanty
The music: “The Powder-Monkey (An Old Salt’s Story) – 50th edition” by Michael Watson (1885).
The lyrics: “The Powder-Monkey (An Old Salt’s Story) – 50th edition” by Michael Watson (1885).
Mentioned in: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 148).
The Record of The Powder Monkey
You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.
The musical notation
The full lyrics
The Powder Monkey
A yarn I’ve got to spin as how Ive heard my old dad tell,
Of a gallant little hero who aboard the vict’ ry fell,
He was brimming full o’ courage, an’ was just the sort of lad,
To make the sort o’ sailor that our Navy’s always had.
As powder monkey, little Jim was pet o’ all the crew,
with his flaxen hair so curly, an’ his pretty eyes o’ blue;
An’ the bo’s’un always said as how that what got over him,
Was the chorus of a sailor’s song as sung by little Jim.
– Soon we’ll be in London Town, sing, my lad, yo ho o!
– and see the king in a golden crown, sing, my lads, yo, ho!
– Heave ho! on we go, sing, my lads, yo, ho!
– And Who’s a-feared to meet the foe? sing, my lads, yo, ho!
* 2 *
In ninety-eight we chased the foe right into ” Bourky Bay,”
And we fought away like (nigger) slavers’s, all the night till break of day,
The foeman’s flag ship “Orient,” was blowed away sky-high,
With the Admiral an’ all his crew an sare em right says I.
Now little Jim was in the thick of fall the fire and smoke
And he seemed to think that fighting hard was nothing but a joke,
For he handed up the powder from the maghzines below,
And all the while a singing, as if his pluck to show.
* 3 *
But little Jim was booked as the fight was just on won,
A musket bullet pick’d him off, afore his song was done,
They took him to the cock-pit, where a smiling he did lie,
And the sailors—Well, there warn’t a man but somehow piped his eye,
Says Jim, “my lad, don’t fret for me, but if the shore ye see,
Give a kiss to dear old mother, and say it comes from me,
And there never was a braver heart, that served our gracious Queen.
When the little powder monkey, who so gallantly used to sing.