Maurice Crotty (Jim Payne)

See also:
The Spring Maurice Crotty Fought The Old Dog Hood
(Johnny Burke)

Sit down and I'll sing you a ditty,
'bout the time I was out on the Dan;
Maurice Crotty was one of our sailors,
A comical cure of a man.

He could spin out a yarn by the hour,
And lies he could tell by the score;
And when Crotty would kick up a ditty,
All hands in her galley would roar.

The captain sang out one fine morning,
"Come, Crotty, your trick at the wheel."
Well, he shook like a mouse in a skillet,
So timid and nervous did feel.

We struck the whitecoats the next morning,
It was over the side every man;
With his gaff and his bat on his shoulder,
As we copied over each pan.

And Maurice, a half-mile behind us,
He was catchin' all kinds of queer frills;
He was bowin' and scrapin' on tiptoe,
Like a man in a set of quadrilles.

Comin' home, 'bout a mile from the steamer,
We saw Maurice stripped off for a bout;
And the big old dog hood with his flippers,
Was stretchin' him out every clout.

"Well, I challenged him fair," said poor Maurice,
For a fight he before me does stand;
But he took a mean dirty advantage,
And he hit me with rocks in his hand."

Well, we backed him in turn to the steamer,
And tucked him up snugly in bed;
Next morning, he came to his senses,
He called me aside and he said:

"Well, he musta got drunk from the liquor,
Or else he woulda beat me to death;
For I'm certain he had a nice jag,
And I got the smell of Old Tom from his breath."

####.... Variant of The Spring Maurice Crotty Fought The Old Dog-Hood, said to have been composed by St John's balladeer Johnny Burke [1851-1930] and published in 1900 (see note below) ....####

See more Johnny Burke songs.

This variant was arranged by Jim Payne.

See more Jim Payne songs.

A variant was collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Gordon Willis [1911-2001] of St John's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp,73-74, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Two variants were also collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best, one in 1977 from Moses (Uncle Mose) Harris [1911-?] of Lethbridge, NL, and one in 1978 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #74 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.127-131, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that Maurice Crotty or Spring Of The Wadhams appeared in Burke and Oliver's The People's Songster. It is difficult to say whether Johnny Burke actually wrote the song or not. At any rate, the text is incomplete compared with the variants collected by Lehr - there is no mention of the fight with the old dog-hood or the apothecary shop in the 1900 publication. It appeared in the 1927 edition of Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry of Newfoundland as The Spring Maurice Crotty Fought The Old Dog-Hood with the note: "Amongst sealers this song was very popular years ago, and no doubt many will be glad to see it in print. Maurice Crotty was supposed to be a lad from St John's, and his first experience at the seal fishery will be read with amusement by the old time sealers."

See more Lehr and Best songs.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Copied - jumped from pan to pan.
Dog hood - very dangerous, breeding-age, male hood seal, weighing in the neighbourhood of 900 pounds.
Old Tom - rum.
Pan - floating field of Arctic ice.
Whitecoats - young harp seals with white fur.

A variant was printed in 1905 as The Spring Maurice Crotty Fought The Old Dog Hood on pages 3-5 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book published in St John's by James Murphy [1867-1931].


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