A 19th Century Drinking Song or an Ode to Cologne-Sling {Scented Quote of the Day}


Found a little jewel in a book from the first part of the 19th century recounting an interesting use of Eau de Cologne. Eau de Cologne could be used or was used once as an alcoholic drink by sailors aboard a ship short on rum. They had the idea of drinking it with water and sugar and called it a Cologne-Sling then sang its praises. The song reveals the sailors' resourcefulness. At the time, it would have appeared unusual but not outlandish an approach as Eau de Cologne was ingurgitated as a medecine in that era.

I would love to know the air on which this sailors' drinking song was sung.


Our ancient poets sung the praise
Of nectar and of wine,
And made us believe their influence
Was god-like and divine;

But I'll embrace another theme,
A novel one I own :
In random verse I now chaunt forth
The praises of cologne....

Eau de Cologne, 'tis you I mean,
The toilet's ornament;
What fribbling exquisite on shore
Without you is content;

Yet 'mongst the fashionable throng
You're not adored alone,
On board our ship your name is held
In high repute, cologne.

Yes, our famed frigate's hardy crew,

Whilst ploughing the stormy sea,
Found out but a few days ago

Your worth and quality;
And many a dollar was laid out,

For which they did not moan,
And round the purser's room flock'd crowds

Purchasing you, cologne.

Although our ship was off Cape Horn,

The billows mountains high,
Yet 'spite of all the tempest's force,

Cologne was all the cry:

And 'mongst our frigate's jolly crew,

I'm certain there were none
That did not give their meed of praise

To you, all-famed cologne.

It may be aaked, what was the cause

This was in such demand ;
Perhaps you think they used it

As the dandies do on land!
Oh no, indeed; our hardy tars

So foppish had not grown:
The fact is they made first-rate punch

Out of the dear cologne.

Some days before the grog-money , Was to the ship's crew paid,

And till they'd reach their destined port,
Each dollar by was laid; '

But when the news of this dear stuff .. Around the ship had flown,

Each monk-bag, it was opened wide,
Purchasing you, cologne.

You might around the purser's room

An eager group now see,
With glittering silver in their hands,

And faces full of glee;
With voice quite low, that it might reach

The steward's ear alone,
They cry, " come quick, here is the cash,

Let me have some cologne"

But this fountain it was soon stop'd up,

'Twas said it was all gone;
But the fact is, that some certain folks

Had clapped a stopper on ;
And when they heard the news, it turned

Each heart as cold as stone,
To think they could no more enjoy

Their dear-beloved cologne.

So here's success to every tar

That loves his glass in reason,
For sure a drop of stimulus

At sea is no great treason;
And who can tell but when this scrape

Some time has over blown,
Our tars may fix on other stuff

As good as old cologne.

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1 Comment | Leave a comment

  1. LOL! Shall have to pass this one along to sea-shanty singing friends.

    Reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara freshening her breath and getting her courage up all at one with a good gulp of cologne...


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