Come write me down you powers above,
The man that first created love,
For I have a jewel all in my eyes,
Where all my joy and fancy lies.
"I'll give you gold, I'll give you pearl,
If you can fancy me, my girl.
Such costly robes as you shall wear,
If you can fancy me, my dear."
"It's not your gold shall me entice
To rob me of my virtuous life,
For I never do intend at all
To be at any young man's call."
"Then go, you proud and scornful dame,
If you prove false, I'll do the same,
For I have no doubt that I shall find,
Another young girl to please my mind."
"Oh! stay, young man, don't be in haste,
You seem afraid your time you'll waste;
Let reason rule your roving mind,
And unto you I will prove kind."
To church they went the very next day,
And married were without delay;
And now that girl she is his wife,
And proves his comfort day and night.
So now my roving days are past,
My joy and comfort's come at last;
For all the pains that ever we know,
There's nothing but death shall part us more.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Purslow, F, (1972), The Constant Lovers, EDFS, London
Frank Purslow's notes are as follows:
Hammond Dt 181/Dt 732. Joseph Elliot, Todber, Dorset. September 1905 and Henry Marsh, Dorchester, January 1907.
Of these two versions I preferred Marsh's form of the tune, although I have shown Elliot's ending as an alternative [lower notes]. The text is Elliot's; except for insignificant details, Marsh's was almost identical. The texts of collected versions can almost all be traced to early 19th century broadside texts, sometimes with titles like Wedding Song or Courtship, and for some of Elliot's misremembrances I have substituted the broadside phraseology. What is presumably the original form of the song appears on a broadside of about 1656 entitled If You Love Me Tell Me so; or, Love's Fierce Dispute, to be sung to a tune called Love's Tide, which is in triple time incidentally. A later printer seems to have taken certain of the verses, added one or two new ones of his own and set the result to a popular glee-type tune in common time. Yet another version of the song is The Sincere Courtship in a garland of songs printed by T. Duncan of Glasgow early last [19th] century, which is more or less an abbreviated version of the 17th century text mentioned earlier. Both the Hammonds' singers, and also one noted by Mr Gardiner, had variants of the same tune which is not the tune of a version currently popular around the clubs, which emanated from Bob and Ron Copper of Sussex. The Coppers' tune is more usually associated with The Turkish Lady, but both tunes are of the same "glee" type and lend themselves well to harmonisation.
A copy of the ballad referred to above, issued in the late 1670's by F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke (London) can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:
4o Rawl. 566(53)
The early 19th century saw the appearance of a broadside song based on the older one, though much shortened; it was usually called Second Thoughts are Best. That would put the song (with the familiar text) in tradition for around two centuries (it is still sung by the Copper Family of Rottingdean, of course), though it may perhaps have been lurking around unremarked-upon in an intermediate form during the 18th century. The tune prescribed on the 17th century broadside was Love's Tide (a popular tune in various forms; Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966, pp. 749-752, quotes three examples. It was used for a good few songs of the latter 17th century, including Laurence Price's Famous Flower of Serving-Men) and If You Love Me was successful enough for its title to have become attached to the melody at times.
There are a number of 19th century examples at the Bodleian:
Second Thoughts Are Best
A new song called The true lovers
A tune called Second Thought's Best appeared in the final editions of Playford's Dancing Master; the 1728 edition can be seen at An American Ballroom Companion:
Dancing Master Ã?Â -The notation is on page 343; whether there is any connection with either the earlier or later forms of the song that shares its name is beyond my limited musical abilities to determine.
The song was found incorporated into two Plough Plays (Bassingham and Swinderby) in the 1920s; further details at The Traditional Drama Research Group:
Second thoughts are best
Obviously, the best-known set is that sung by the Coppers: a transcription by Kate Lee from the singing of "Mr Copper" appeared in the first number of the Journal of the Folk Song Society (1899, p. 22). A hundred years later, two generations of Coppers sang at a conference in Sheffield to mark the centenary of the Society. The song has been popular in the Revival; almost everyone singing the Copper version. It has been found in tradition mainly in England (by Baring Gould, Sharp and others), but there are sets in the Greig-Duncan Collection (Aberdeenshire) and Peacock's Songs of the Newfoundland Outports.
Roud: 381 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six