Eliza Lee
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
This is also known as Clear the Track, Let the Bulgine Run. According to Hugill it was a capstan shanty, and a favorite in Yankee Packets. He also states it is a mixture of Irish and African-American influences. He believes it went from Ireland to Mobile where it took on the African-American influence, and then returned to sea.*

Whall states the tune is of minstrel origin. The music hall version chorus was: "Walkee up, O walkee up, O walkee up, O way! Walk into de parlour for to hear de banjo play.."**

Other versions have verses with the Margaret Evans, a ship of the Blue Star Line, or the Blue Cross Line.

Packets were so-called because they were ships that carried mail from Britain to America. Prior to 1818 ships waited in port until they had a full cargo of goods and passengers to sail. In 1818 the Blackball line was founded by a group of Quakers. The Blackball line was the first line to have a regular schedule.

The Blackball flag was a crimson swallow-tail flag with a black ball. Its ships were famous for their fast passage and excellent seamanship. However, they were also famed for their fighting mates and the brutal treatment of seamen. (Western Ocean seamen were called "Packet Rats.") Many ships bore the name "bloodboat." Most of the seamen hailed from New York or were Liverpool-Irish.

Bulgine was a slang term for engine.

Oh, the smartest packet you can find,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
Is the fair "Rosalind" in the Blackball line!
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


The fair "Rosalind" one bright summer's day,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
Went sailing away far out over the bay,
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


The tiller one hand firmly grasp'd,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
And Eliza's waist by the other was clasp'd,
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


Oh the day was fine, the wind was free,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
And Eliza Lee sat there on my knee,
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


Oh, Eliza Lee all on my knee,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
Was as pretty a sight as any could see!
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


Oh, I said, "My dear, will you be mine?"
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
Her answer was sweeter than sweetest of wine,
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


Oh the smartest packet you can find,
Ah he, ah ho, are you most done?
Is the fair "Rosalind" in the Blackwall line
So the clear the track, let the bulgine run,
To my aye rig a jig in the low back car,
Ah he, ha ho, are you most done?
With Eliza Lee all on my knee,
So clear the track, let the bulgine run.


Related Links
From Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties and
*Shanties from the Seven Seas
**Sea Songs and Shanties
See Bibliography for full information.