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some ingenious ear substituted Guide on de army,' which was at once accepted and became universal. • We'll guide on de army, and be marching along,' is now the established version on the Sea Islands."
I never fairly heard a secular song among the Port Royal freedmen, and never saw a musical instrument among them. The last violin, owned by a “worldly man,” disappeared from Coffin's Point “de year gun shoot at Bay Pint."* In other parts of the South, “fiddle-sings,” “devil-songs," "corn-songs,” “jig-tunes," and what not, are common; all the world knows the banjo, and the “ Jim Crow” songs of thirty years ago.
We have succeeded in obtaining only a very few songs of this character. Our intercourse with the colored people has been chiefly through the work of the Freedmen's Commission, which deals with the serious and earnest side of the negro character. It is often, indeed, no easy matter to persuade them to sing their old songs, even as a curiosity, such is the sense of dignity that has come with freedom. It is earnestly to be desired that some person, who has the opportunity, should make a collection of these now, before it is too late.
In making the present collection, we have only gleaned upon the surface, and in a very narrow field. The wealth of material still awaiting the collector can be guessed from a glance at the localities of those we have, and from
*i. e., November, 1861, when Hilton Head was taken by Admiral Dupont& great date on the islands.
the fact, mentioned above, that of the first forty-three of the collection most were sung upon a single plantation, and that it is very certain that the stores of this plantation were by no means exhausted. Of course there was constant intercourse between neighboring plantations; also between different States, by the sale of slaves from one to another. But it is surprising how little this seems to have affected local songs, which are different even upon adjoining plantations. The favorite of them all, “Roll, Jordan ” (No. 1), is sung in Florida, but not, I believe, in North Carolina. “Gabriel's Trumpet” (No. 4) and “ Wrestle on, Jacob” (No 6) probably came from Vir. ginia, where they are sung without much variation from the form usual at Port Royal; No. 6 is also sung in Maryland.* “John, John of the Holy Order” (No. 22) is traced in Georgia and North Carolina, and “O'er the Crossing” (No. 93) appears to be the Virginia original, variations of which are found in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. As illustrations of the slowness with which these songs travel, it may be mentioned that the “Graveyard” (No. 21), which was frequently sung on Capt. John Fripp's plantation in the winter of 1863-4, did not reach Coffin's Point (five miles distant) until the following Spring. I heard it myself at Pine Grove, two miles from the latter place, in March. Somewhere
• It is worthy of notice that a song much resembling “Poor Rosy” was heard last Spring from the boat hands of an Ohio River steamboat-the only words caught being “Poor Molly, poor gal."
upon this journey this tune was strikingly altered, as will be seen from the variation given, which is the form in which I was accustomed to hear it. Nos. 38, 41, 42, 43, 118, 119, 122, 123, were brought to Coffin's Point after Mr. Ware left, by refugees returning to the plantation from “ town” and the Main. No. 74, likewise, “Nobody knows the trouble I see,” which was common in Charles
I ton in 1865, has since been carried to Coffin's Point, very little altered.
These hymns will be found peculiarly interesting in illustrating the feelings, opinions and habits of the slaves. Of the dialect I shall presently speak at some length. One of their customs, often alluded to in the songs (as in No. 19), is that of wandering through the woods and swamps, when under religious excitement, like the ancient bacchantes. To get religion is with them to “fin' dat ting.” Molsy described thus her sister's experience in searching for religion : “ Couldn't fin' dat leetle ting-hunt for 'em-huntin' for 'em all de time-las' foun' 'em.” And one day, on our way to see a “shout," we asked Bristol whether he was going :-“No, ma'am, wouldn't let me in—hain't foun' dat ting yetmhain't been on my knees in de swamp.” Of technical religious expressions,“ seeker," “ believer," “member,” &c., the
songs are full.
The most peculiar and interesting of their customs is the “shout,” an excellent description of which we are permitted to copy from the N. Y. Nation of May 30, 1867:
" This is a ceremony which the white clergymen are inclined to discountenance, and even of the colored elders some of the more discreet try sometimes to put on a face of discouragement; and although, if pressed for Biblical warrant for the shout, they generally seem to think 'he in de Book,' or 'he dere-da in Matchew, still it is not considered blasphemous or improper if 'de chillen? and 'dem young gal carry it on in the evening for amusement's sake, and with no well-defined intention of praise.' But the true (shout' takes place on Sundays or on 'praise ’-nights through the week, and either in the praise-house or in some cabin in which a regular religious meeting has been held. Very likely more than half the population of the plantation is gathered together. Let it be the evening, and a light-wood fire burns red before the door of the house and on the hearth. For some time one can hear, though at a good distance, the vociferous exhortation or prayer of the presiding elder or of the brother who has a gift that way, and who is not on the back seat,'-—a phrase, the interpretation of which is, under the censure of the church authorities for bad behavior;—and at regular intervals oue hears the elder
deaconing'a hymn-book hymn, which is sung two lines at a time, and whose wailing cadences, borne on the night air, are indescribably melancholy. But the benches are pushed back to the wall when the formal meeting is over, and old and young, men and women, sprucely-dressed young men, grotesquely half-clad fieldhands—the women generally with gay handkerchiefs twisted about their heads and with short skirts—boys with tattered shirts and men's trousers, young girls bare
footed, all stand up in the middle of the floor, and when the “sperichil is struck up, begin first walking and by-and-by shuffling round, one after the other, in a ring. The foot is hardly taken from the floor, and the progression is mainly due to a jerking, hitching motion, which agitates the entire shouter, and soon brings out streams of perspiration. Sometimes they dance silently, sometimes as they shuffle they sing the chorus of the spiritual, and sometimes the song itself is also sung by the dancers. But more frequently a band, composed or some of the best singers and of tired shouters, stand at the side of the room to 'base’ the others, singing the body of the song and clapping their hands together or on the knees. Song and dance are alike extremely energetic, and often, when the shout lasts into the middle of the night, the monotonous thud, thud of the feet prevents sleep within half a mile of the praise-house."
In the form here described, the “shout” is probably confined to South Carolina and the States south of it. It appears to be found in Florida, but not in North Carolina or Virginia. It is, however, an interesting fact that the term “shouting” is used in Virginia in reference to a peculiar motion of the body not wholly unlike the Carolina shouting. It is not unlikely that this remarkable religious ceremony is a relic of some native African dance, as the Romaika is of the classical Pyrrhic. Dancing in the usual way is regarded with great horror by the people of Port Royal, but they enter with infinite zest into the movements of the “shout." It has its