Come all you men thoughout this nation
I will have you warning take by me
Don't be like me ill-treat your servants
When you sail on the raging sea.
This boy was bound to me apprentice
This boy was bound to me, I say,
From Saint Giles's Workhouse I hailed him
For this poor boy was motherless.
One day this boy he did offend me
But little to him I did say,
To the mizzen-top I hauled him
And kept him there all that long day.
His hands, his feet they were exhausted.
His arms, his legs, they were likewise.
With my marlin-spike I cruelly gagg-ed him
Because I could not bear to hear his cries.
With my log-line I cruelly beat him,
So cruelly I can't deny.
Through my cruel and bad ill-treatment
The very next morning this poor boy died.
So now my men, they do eject me,
To think that I have done so wrong.
In my cabin they closely confin-ed me
And brought me to London in an iron strong.
So now my trial do come over
And here lay I condemned to die.
If I had 'a' been my manners been ruly
I might have saved the poor boy's life and mine.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1958
From the singing of Harry Cox. Recorded by Peter Kennedy, October 9th, 1953. Transcribed by Michael Bell. BBC Record RPL 21480
The Journal Entry follows:
E. J. Moeran noted this song from Harry Cox and printed the tune (no words) in the Folk Song Journal of 1922 (No 26, p 5). This tune shows certain variations which do not occur in the recording noted above. Several other versions have been printed in the Journal (No 8, pp 161-2, No 17, pp 355-6, No 26, pp 4-5 and No 27, pp 566-7). Frank Kidson wrote in FSJ No 8 p 162 that 'the ballad was probably called forth by a particulary brutal case of ill-treatment, similar to that narrated in it, which occurred some twenty or thirty years ago' (i.e. c 1870-90) - S.J.
Details of the incident are given on a broadside. Unfortunately I have lost my reference, but it took place, I think, a good deal earlier, probably about 1810-20, and I believe, off the Suffolk coast - A. L. L.
I have added a time signature of 7/4 at one point in order to make the notes fit the bar. It is possible, but I think unlikely, that the correct course would have been to alter the timing of some of the notes. I have also omitted some variations in the melody given for later verses. As the lyrics were not fitted to the melody in the Journal, I have left this to the reader, rather than impose my interpretation.
Roud: 835 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six