| dashed nearly the whole of these English hired boats to
pieces among the rocks. None of them happened to be out, and
the whole shore to westward was literally strewn with wreckage.
The few boats that were left continued to go out for some
years afterwards, but it was of no use. " Observing a
neighbour approaching, he went off. It is difficult to get
a fisherman to speak of his work.
The dredgers while at work, either "clam" or "
oyster" fishing, sing songs which have a very peculiar
effect when borne over the waters. We have heard it in the
early morning, many times, fully two and a half miles inland.
The effect was pleasing, wild, and weirdlike. The men themselves,
as with other things, are very reticent in speaking of their
song singing. They scout the very idea, however, of the airs
they use being of Norwegian extraction, as held by certain
writers, and maintain that the airs they use are like to the
songs they sing, real " hame made, " and this is
how it is done: there is a recognised leader of song in every
boat; he starts whatever air he pleases, and no matter what
jumble of words comes first he always aims at turning them
into lines that will jingle, the rest following, and keeping
time most faithfully. The following are samples picked up
by the way: —
" Whae'll dreg a buckie,
I'll dreg a clam,
I'll dreg a buckie,
And I'll be luckie,
And I'll no be lang. "
Another sample of song secured is: —
" Heave, aho, and away we go,
What care we for calm or gale,
Aye take a dram, as lang as ye can,
And brandie's gude among het ale.
" Heave, aho, and away we go;
Mag, an' Meg, an' Jess, an' Jane,
Oh how they lauch when we get fish,
But oh how they girn when we get nane.
" Heave, aho, and ahame we go;
See them awaiting on the green,
Big lots, or wee lots, or nane ava,
Gin we dinna try we shall be seen. "
Ever since these scalps were destroyed by over-dredging it
has not paid to follow out the trade, consequently there has
been little done in that way for a great many years. A few
are brought in occasionally when the dredgers are out seeking
clams for bait, but the Pandore now is scarcely ever heard
of. An old dredger gave this other couple of verses, which
had been repeated by his father when he was a boy: —
" Lady Hyndford's lang tails,
Comin' doon the brae 0,
She gets a' the creamy milk,
We get a' the whey O.
" Ye, ho, and away we go,
Revelling amidst the gale O,
And if gude luck our lot should be,
We'll drink the milk o' the whale O. "
Lady Hyndford, a former proprietress of Prestongrange, who
was very kind to the fishermen, had been observed by the dredgers
coming down the brae towards Bankfoot before setting out one
night, and they simply put her ladyship into their dredging
song. The reference to the whale in the hindmost line was
the public-house at Cuthill which went by that name, and the
milk of the whale, of course, was Thomson the innkeeper's
On Saturday forenoon, November 2nd 1901, after a cessation
from oyster dredging for many years, one of the old boats
went out. Soon the "dreg song" was struck up, and
came wafting beautifully over the waters. It continued till
a great many villagers turned out, and they listened delightedly
to the old familiar strains. The boat brought in between two
hundred and three hundred oysters. It has been out several
times since then, and has never been less successful. The
dredgers say that the oyster beds are again beginning to look
healthfu', and their hopes are great for the future.
SAILORS' BENEFIT SOCIETY.
The venerable institution known as " The Incorporation
of Sailors of Prestonpans " must be now fully two hundred
years old, because we find as early as 1744, that, owing to
restrictive measures passed at that period by the management
regarding the admission of new members, the number of the
" incorporated " became subsequently reduced to
two members only, Messrs James Warroch and George Warroch.
It is evident that others would have joined the society, but
they could not be admitted owing to the restrictive measures
referred to; so in 1798 certain seamen of the town raised
an action before the Court of Session concluding that this