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As I walked out one morning
In the springtime of the year,
I overheard a sailor boy,
Likewise his lady fair.

They sang a song together,
Made the valleys for to ring,
While the birds on the spray and the meadows gay,
That proclaimed the lovely spring.

Said Henry to Nancy,
"We must soon sail away,
For it's lovely on the water
To hear the music play."

"For our Queen she do want seamen,
So I will not stay on shore.
I will brave the wars for my country
Where the cannons loudly roar."

"Oh", then said pretty Nancy,
"Pray stay at home with me,
Or let me go along with you
To bear you company."

"I'll put a pair of trousers
And leave my native shore.
Then let me go along with you
Where the cannons loudly roar."

"It will not do", said Henry,
"It's vain for you to try.
They will not ship a female",
Young Henry did reply.

"Besides, your hands are delicate,
And the ropes would make them sore;
And it would be worse if you should fall
Where the cannons loudly roar".

Poor Nancy fell and fainted,
And soon they brought her to;
They both shook hands together
And took a fond adieu.

"Come, change your ring with me, my love,
For we may meet once more.
There's one above that will guard you, love,
Where the cannons loudly roar."

"Four pounds it is our bounty,
And that would not do for thee
For to help thy aged parents while I am on the sea."

For Tower Hill is crowded
With mothers weeping sore
For their sons are gone to face the foe
Where the cannons loudly roar.

There's many a mother's darling
Has entered for the main,
And in the dreadful battles
What numbers will be slain.

For many a weeping mother
And widow will deplore
For those who fall by cannob balls
Where the cannons loudly roar.




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Source: Palmer, Roy, Bushes and Briars, LLanerch, 1999

Notes:
(In Bushes and Briars, each verse is shown as two long lines, rather than four short. I have changed this for printing purposes.)

The song has only been obtained once from tradition. The words of the singer, Mr Hilton of South Walsham, Norfolk, have been completed from a broadside entitled "Henry and Nancy, or the Lover's Separation." The song was collected by Vaughan Williams.

The song was first printed, as collected, in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol. IV, issue 15, 1910. Mr Hilton sang it on April 11th 1908. Verses 5, 6, 13, 14 and the first half of verse 7 above have been introduced from the broadside. There are additionally some small editorial changes of no great significance, except for verse 11, where Mr Hilton's "that would do for thee" has had its meaning reversed.

Two broadside editions can be seen at ?  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

Henry & Nancy, or, the lover's separation

Roud lists one other example, William and Polly, noted by Henry E. Mellinger from Mrs Mary Tucker, Varnell, Georgia, and published in The Journal of American Folklore 45 (1932) pp.99-100.


Roud: 1539 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws:
Child:



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