By Dan Beard
"Tally-Ho" and Other Cries
Wolves were formerly very numerous in England. It was some time after the introduction of firearms that the last one was killed. A legend similar to that told of General Putnam credits a man and his son by the name of Polson with killing the last English wolf. The celebrated Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel killed the last wolf in Scotland in 1697, In the bog of Kilcrea, in Ireland, wolves remained until the beginning of the last century.
Wolf-hunting in England
was formerly not only an exciting sport but a duty which the government enforced upon its subjects. King Edgar remitted the punishment for certain crimes if the criminal could produce a given number of wolves' tongues. There was formerly a law which forced all the barons "to hunt and chase the wolfe and wolfe whalp (whelps) four times a year and as often as they see them. The Scherrif and Baille to hunt them thrice a year, with power to raise the country to their assistance."
When we remember how the wolves ran in large packs in the great forests we may imagine what a time they must have had in those wolf-hunts. How the burly old English hunters must have shouted ! And what did they shout?
The French language was the language of the court, and they used the French wolf-hunter's cry of "Hab le loup!" or "au loup!" Gradually the French words were modified to "a-loo!" The wolves became extinct and the English added their favorite H and shouted "Ha-loo!" In this country the ancient wolf-hunter's cry principally used to call up "Central" on the telephone, and we call it "Hello."
It will be noticed that al cries have a marked similarity. This is not because they all come from the same source, but because only such calls as possess great carrying qualities are retained in use. Two hundred years ago, according to a magazine of that date, the English fox-hunter's cry was
" Tallio, Hoix, Hark, Forward,"
which is a corruption of the French hunter's call. Four hundred years ago the French hunter encouraged his dogs with the musical cry of "Thia-hilaud a qui forheur!" sometimes printed "Tya-hillaut a qui forheur!" (These huntsmen's shouts are given in a quaint and rare old Freench book illustrated with the strange pictures of the day and entitled "La Venerie de Jacques du Fouilloux, a Paris 1573.") From this the English manufactured "Tallio, hoix, hark, forward." Later it has been abbreviated to simply
In very ancient times each soldier wore for a uniform whatever clothes he could procure, and no two were dressed alike. They had no banners or flags, but fought after the manner of our own American Indians, and like them they had their war-whoops, Every boy in America has felt the cold chills run down his back as he has read of the silence of the frontier settlement being suddenly broken by the "blood-curdling yells of the Indians" A neighbor of mine who formerly employed a half-civilized Indian tells me that on rare occasions this native allowed the children to persuade him to give a war-whoop, "which he did with such energy that every living thing within hearing would stand spell-bound with astonishment or terror, until the echoes had died away."
I never heard this Indian, but have heard what purported to be the
War-cry of the Wild Tribes,
and I think it no worse than, nor indeed half as bad as, some of the yells given by the college or football teams. If you can imagine that one of these football teams was intent upon scalping you and burning your house, and if the stillness of the night should be suddenly broken by their "Rah! Rah! Rah! siss-boom-ah! it would, without doubt, make your hair stand on end.
The Greeks had their "Eleleu!" the Scripture Alleluia, The Welsh their "Ubub," the Irish, " Ullulu," the Scots their various slogans.
"The Rebel Yell."
The old backwoodsmen that formed the rear-guard in our Revolution swept down on the redcoats with a yell that made British hearts stop beating, and in the Civil War of 1861-65 the descendants of these old backwoodsmen in the Confederate Army gave the same cry, and it was then known , and is still spoken of, as the rebel yell. It was borrowed from the Indians by the first settlers.
In olden times the Frenchman when he charged the enemy cried Monte Joye, St. Dennis," which was changed to "Tue, tue!" and the ancient Irishmen shouted "Farrah! farrah!" The Scotch kings yelled "St. Andrew!" but every clan in Scotland had its own particular slogan. The Johnstones cried "Light thieves all!" the MacGregors, "Ard choille" I while the MacFarlane's watchwords were "Loch Sloidh!"
At first war-cries were only used by chiefs, princes, or Commanders, and at tournaments the heralds thus proclaimed them. Now the degenerate descendants of these burly old fighting men use the self-same watchwords or war-cries as mottoes. In place, however, of being shouted from the hairy throats of men-at-arms to arouse warriors, they are embroidered on handkerchiefs, painted on private coaches, and used for book plates!
is the call for help and the signal for recognition throughout Australia. The yell is borrowed from the natives, and has remarkable carrying powers. It has been heard over the plains at wonderfully long distances. This cry is given in a head-tone something like the New York City milkman's early morning whoop. In the Australian bush anyone hearing the "Coo-ee!" is bound by the laws of the bush to reply, as it invariably means that some one has lost his way, or has met with some accident and needs assistance
In the great Southwest of our own country, on the plains and in the mountains, the woodsmen and travelers use the Indian yell of
from which the tribe of Indians takes its name. This cry is only used as a "hello." The first syllable is given in chest-, the second in head-tones, and the latter is generally prolonged. It is claimed that this call will carry farther than "Coo-ee."
Small Boys' Call
All small boys in America have a peculiar method by which they signal or call to each other. This they do by a yell in which they suddenly change from a head-voice to a chest-voice, and produce a sort of warbling shriek that it is impossible for me to indicate with letters, but can easily be understood by anyone who has ever heard the cry of the Loon or Great Northern Diver. After the boys grow older and their voices change it is impossible for them to give the call of their childhood.
In parts of the South the boys use a cry which is probably an importation from Africa, brought over by the slave children. As near as I can spell it it is "Whoo-ah! " or "Hough-ah!" to which is generally added the name of the playmate who is thus greeted or called, as " Hough,ah, Ralph" The cry is uttered in a loud but peculiarly soft tone, with a rising inflection on the hough. The rather long-drawn "ah" is given in a lower tone.
"Mee-ma Red Eye!"
Another odd cry, the meaning of which I never learned, is from Kentucky. It is "Mee-ma! mee-ma! " Often the words " Red eye " are added to the cry, making it Mee-ma, red eye! mee-ma!" Generally this cry is used in derision. If one boy excels another in jumping he Cries " Mee-ma! " or the victorious ball-nine will " Mee-ma " the vanquished nine.
In the East one boy calls to another by simply shouting his name, as "Johnny!" or, "Say, Johnny!" but in the Southweat the boys cry " Oh, Johnny!" with a long-drawn "Oh."
For some reason little attention has been paid to these peculiar cries by students of folk-lore and their origin is doubtful.
"Lil!" "Track!" "Way!"
are the shouts of warning sounded by boys when coasting. In Cincinnati, 0hio and Covington, KY, they cry "Track! Clear the track!" as they come tearing down the hill on their long sleds with solid runners bound with half-round iron. In the vicinity of New York the bob-sleigh's pilot shouts "Way!" an abbreviation of "Clear the way;" but in certain parts of Yankeedom the bob-sleigh lads cry "Lil! Lil! Lil!" the origin of which is lost in the forgotten and unrecorded lore of boyhood.
The Nereus Boat Club boys of Flushing, LI, have a very effective yell which can easily be heard and distinguished for long distances over the water. It begins with a head-note and ends with three chest-notes:
" K-e-e Voy! Hoo! Hoo!"
The first syllable is long drawn out, the second is a little shorter, and the last two are short and quick.
Most of the college yells consist of a repetition of an abbreviation of "Hoorah," repeated over and over again with the name of the college thrown in the middle or at the end of the cry. This is sometimes varied by the addition of an imitation of the ascent of a sky-rocket and of the exclamation of the spectators when they behold the bursting rocket shed its shower of golden fire. This is rendered "Siss!" the rocket ascending; "boom!" the rocket exploding; "ah!" the people's expression of admiration and pleasure.
The notes of frogs, dogs, and crowing cocks are often introduced. One Brooklyn military company has a "tiger" composed of a provincial expression borrowed from the farmers. When drawled out by a hundred throats the phrase, "I-wanter-know!" always produces a laugh.
The number of club, class, school, and university yells is unlimited; but if any one of the readers of this book wants to invent a cheer, remember to choose first such sounds as will make the most noise; second, to end up with the name of his club or organization, the idea being first to attract attention, and second, to advertise your society, school, or university, by impressing its name on the willing or unwilling ears of your hearers. In the same way the old Scots would yell the name of their leader, prince, or clan, so that their foe might know who were the valiant men they were fighting, and might always afterward remember their name or the name of their leader.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.