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

See also: Maurice Crotty (Jim Payne)

(Spring Of The Wadhams)

Sit down, boys, I'll sing you a ditty,
'Bout the spring I was out in the Dan;
Maurice Crotty was one of our sealers-
A comical sort of a man.
He could spin out old yarns by the hour,
And lies he could tell by the score;
And when he came down in the ball-room,
All hands in her body would roar.

It was his first spring at ice-hunting,
Not a rope in the ship did he know;
Not even to fold up the bunting,
And awkward to lace up a tow.
When the captain called out one fine morning,
Come, Crotty, your trick at the wheel!
He shook like a mouse in a skillet,
So timid and nervous did feel.

We passed a big steamer lights blazing,
And Maurice he whispered to me:
Ain't that a grand sight, Mr. Daly,
Apothecaries shop on the sea.
Does the Swordfish go in for hop bitters,
Says maurice to me with a frown;
Is there no one laid up with the measles-
Sure 'tis strange to see drug stores leave town.

We struck the whitecoats the next morning,
And over her side every man,
With his bat and his gaff on his shoulder,
All copying from ice pan to pan;
And Maurice a half mile behind us,
And he cutting all kinds of queer frills;
He was bowing and scraping on tip-toe,
Like a man in a set of quadrilles.

We missed all day till the evening,
I mind I did four old harps lace;
We were over three miles from the steamer,
A long road before us to face.
McCarthy had six - he was stronger,
And Mullins could only haul two;
I must say that himself and Maurice Crotty
Were the only slack men in the crew.

Coming home 'bout a mile from the schooner,
We saw Maurice stripped off for a bout;
And a big old dog hood with his flippers,
And he stretching him out every clout.
"I challenged him fair," said poor Maurice,
"For a fight if before me he'd stand;
And he took the mean dirty advantage,
And he hit me with rocks in his hand."

We backed him in turns to the schooner,
And tucked him up snugly in bed;
And next morning he came to his senses,
And called me out and then said:
He must have got drunk from the liquor,
But for that he would beat me to death;
For I'm certain he had a nice jag-on,
I got the smell of Old Tom from his breath.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] ....####
See more Johnny Burke songs.

This variant was printed in St John's in 1905 on pp.3-5 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book published by James Murphy [1867-1931].

A variant was arranged and recorded as Maurice Crotty by Jim Payne.

See more songs by Jim Payne.

A variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1952 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."

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


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