First I loved William and then I loved John,
But now I love Thomas, he's a clever young man.
With his white cotton stockings and his high ankled shoes,
He wears a velvet jacket, like a flash lad he goes.
It's fiddling and dancing was all his delight,
And keeping flash company has ruined him quite,
Has ruined him quite and a great many more,
If he hadn't kept flash company he had never been so poor.
Oh, take this yellow handkerchief in remembrance of me,
And wear it all round your neck when in flash company.
Dry up your briny tears and don't look so sad,
There's plenty more flash girls all wish to be had.
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Source: Purslow, F, (1968), The Wanton Seed, EDFS, London
Frank Purslow wrote:
Tune and text from Job Read, Southampton. (Gardiner H 365.) A rather puzzling song because of its apparent incompleteness; nearly all collected versions however agree almost word for word. I have heard the song sung in Suffolk to the Bold Princess Royal tune, but the above is the usual tune associated with the text. It appears to be Irish: although it rather sounds Tyrolienne it was being sung to the words of Green Bushes in Limerick in 1853 according to Joyce's "Ancient Irish Music" p 24. Compare also with two tunes in Petrie, Nos 222 and 223.
Also found as The Yellow Handkerchief, I Once Loved a Young Man, and so on. Mainly from Southern English tradition, though reported also in the USA and Canada.
Broadside examples at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:
The Wandering Girl, or the Bud of a Rose
Roud: 954 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Related Songs: Do you remember that night? (thematic) The Green Bushes (1) (thematic)