Monday, September 19, 2011

A "Pretty Little" Lost Lighthouse Ballad

In the course of doing research for our forthcoming California & Hawaii lighthouses map, we delved into an engaging and informative book: Ancient and Modern Light-houses, by Major David Porter Heap, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, published in 1889 by Ticknor & Co., Boston.

Appendix C contains the following, which should be of interest to folksong enthusiasts and fans of New Jersey's "Old Barney" (left, by Peter M. Mason, from Mid-Atlantic Lighthouses Illustrated Map & Guide).
Researches as to the origin of words and names have great interest for the philologist, so I append a ballad giving an ingenious explanation how Barnegat Light-house came to be so named, Si non e vero ben trovato.*

Air—"The Pretty Little Rat-Catcher's Daughter."**

In the Bay of Barnegat sailed a jolly, jolly tar,
And he watched like a cat o'er the water,
Till he spied from the main-top-gallant-forward-mlzzen spar
The pretty little light-keeper's daughter.

Then he landed on the land, did this jolly, jolly tar,
And he chased her o'er the sand till he caught her.
Says he, "My pretty miss, I've got to have a kiss
From the pretty little light-keeper's daughter."

But she squealed a little squeal at the jolly, jolly tar,
And said she didn't feel as if she'd ought to;
Then she scooted up the bar and hollered for her ma, —
Oh, the pretty little light-keeper's daughter!

"Sure my name is Barney Flynn," said the jolly, jolly tar,
"And at drinking Holland gin I'm a snorter."
Then a tub of washing-blue—soap suddenly she threw —
Did the mother of the light-keeper's daughter.

"Now, Barney, git!" she spat, at the jolly, jolly tar;
And you bet that Barney gat for the water.
Thus the place from near and far was named by the ma
Of the pretty little light-keeper's daughter.

— Adam Clark.
*Translation: If it's not true, it's a good story.
**See an animated snippet of the original Cockney "air" here.

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