Mudcat Café message #3860565 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161981   Message #3860565
Posted By: Richie
12-Jun-17 - 10:01 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Died for Love Sources: PART IV
Subject: RE: Origins: Died for Love Sources: PART IV

Here are my headnotes now for Sailor Boy: I've put over 100 UK versions and over 120 versions from North America on my site so I'll be wrapping up this study soon. Since the main headnotes are long, I'd like to share two excerpts:

The broadsides represent four different oikotypes of Sailor Boy/Sweet William which correspond to my A to D print versions.

Oikotype A: Irish. Begins with "Early, early in the spring" and is represented by the Irish broadsides "Sailor Boy" by Goggins c.1770, also "A New Song call'd the Young Lady's Lamentation for the Loss of her True Love," printed by P. Brereton in Dublin. c.1867 and "The constant lover and her sailor boy" from Ballad Sheet Scrapbook I: part IV, from the Collection of Patrick Weston Joyce (1827- 1914) an Irish music collector; dated c. 1880 by chronology presented.. The opening two lines (and sometimes the first stanza) are also found in Early, Early in the Spring (Laws M1 Roud #152) whose antecedent is the late 17th century Seaman's Complaint for his Unkind Mistress, of Wapping. See those opening lines also in Croppy Boy, which is an adaptation. What need to be made clear is: The Seaman's Complaint is not part of Sailor Boy and only has the opening lines in common-- they are different ballads. Some recent song notes date The Sailor Boy back to "the bombardment of Cartagena, Colombia, during Admiral Vernon's 1740 expedition." This apparently is a reference to a text from Logan's Pedlar's Pack of 1869, The Disappointed Sailor, in which the ship's destination is Cartagena (1741)-- this text is related to Seaman's Complaint, a different ballad. The Sailor boy dates back to the early 1700s through John Gay's recreation. The "Early, Early" title, although an identifier of Irish versions, appears to have been originally English from an earlier unknown missing broadside.

Oikotype B: Scottish. Begins with "The sailing trade is a weary trade," and is represented by "Sailing Trade" printed by J. Morren, c.1800 in an Edinburgh chapbook. The opening also appears with changes such as, "A sailor's life is a weary life" which is similar to the opening of Oikotype D. Oikotype B has 10 stanzas and introduces the "color of amber" stanza which is common in many Sailor Boy versions from North America and is similar in text to the opening of the Appalachian folksong "Black is the Colour."

Oikotype C: English also Irish. Begins "Down by a crystal river side" and is represented by Ca, "The Maid's Lament for her Sailor Boy," a London broadside by J. Catnatch printer dated between 1813 and 1838 and Cb, "Sailor Boy" by London printer Pitts dated between 1819 and 1844. The opening stanza is reminiscent of the 2nd stanza of the 1686 broadside, "Constant Lady and the False-Hearted Squire." This English oikotype also has the older text used by John Gay in 1720 (Black Eyed Susan) and can therefore be considered older than A or B. This oikotype has the French ships found in the Irish A which A may have borrowed from C. It must be presumed that an early broadside of C is missing (c.1680s- 1720s) and text either from the broadside or its tradition was used by Gay for his "Black Eyed Susan." The fact that versions of C are found in America and that the versions were brought probably during the Colonial Period is further evidence of the antiquity of C which had been replaced by D in England by 1900.

Oikotype D: English. It begins similarly to B, "A sailor's life is a merry life" and is represented by the later broadside, "Sailor Boy and his Faithful Mary." Has the new stanza beginning, "Four-and-twenty sailors, in a row." The ships are the "Queen's ship(s)," the sailor is "sweet William" and he was last seen and presumed dead on the "green island." This represents a more recent (late 1800s- early 1900s) English tradition and is easily identified by its first line.

All four types can be compared for details, type of ship, jacket blue etc. An ur-ballad can be constructed for each oikotype. Although some traditional versions are mixed (more than one oikotype) most conform closely to the four basic broadside oikotypes. One other rare oikotype, found in tradition in North America, uses the "amber is the colour" stanza as an opening and is Oikotype E, which begins "Dark/Black is the Color." These oikotypes will be covered in more detail later.

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The Relationship with Died for Love
The text of G, "A Sailor's Trade is a Roving Life," succinctly shows the main relationship with Died for Love. The letter writing stanza, which is sometimes song writing stanza in Sailor Boy, is followed by the Died for Love ending stanza. After studying the broadside texts and comparing them to the traditional texts, one fact becomes clear: except for this single stanza about writing a song or letter (a ballad commonplace-- in this case it acts as a trigger stanza) the print versions have no stanzas in common with Died for Love and their extended family. Since many traditional versions of Sailor Boy share one or more stanzas with Died for Love, how can this be?

There are two theories-- the first (Theory A) requires a giant leap of faith while the second (Theory B) is simple. Perhaps both are contributors to the inclusion of the Died for Love stanzas in traditional versions of Sailor Boy.

Theory A suggests that both Died for Love, B (The Cruel Father), a ballad about an apprentice who is pressed into service the King and becomes a sailor boy, and Sailor Boy have a common broadside ancestry. Sailor Boy would be an "answer to" type of broadside that would be parallel or a variation of the same story. In The Cruel Father, his daughter's lover is pressed to sea aboard a man-of-war where he is killed by a cannonball. In the Sailor Boy her sailor boy is either pressed to sea or it's his trade-- she has her father build a boat and she searches for him hailing down (in some versions) a man-of-war vessel. It would be natural for the Sailor Boy as a companion ballad to appropriate the suicide and ending Died for Love stanzas.

Theory B is a simple logical explanation: the Died for Love ballads are similar in style, melody and theme to Sailor Boy. The basic theme is almost the same in both--a maid falls in love, her love leaves her. She searches for him, finds he's dead and kills herself. Traditional singers that knew the two ballads would blend them because of the common letter/song writing stanza. Notice in G (text above) "A Sailor's Trade is a Roving Life" the Died for Love ending follows the letter writing stanza held in common. This combination is most consistent in Butcher Boy (Died for Love, E). Printers kept printing the same stock broadsides-- not taking tradition into account. Although it seems odd that a version with the added Died for Love stanzas was never printed-- why change the old for the new (Maiden's Prayer).

The association of the two ballads by traditional singers from the common stanza became apparent when random Died for Love stanzas where added to Sailor Boy. One good example is one of the first published traditional versions, my W, which was sent by Margaret Harley to Lucy Broadwood. It was later published in Broadwood's 1893 English Country Songs:

W. "Sweet William." Words and tune, with notes from Margaret Harley, Bewdley.

1. O father, father, come build me a boat,
That on this wild ocean I may float,
And every ship that I chance to meet
I will enquire for my William sweet.

2 I had not sailed more than half an hour
Before I met with a man on board (man of war?)
"Kind captain, captain, come tell me true,
Is my sweet William on board with you?"

3 "Oh no, fine lady, he is not here,
That he is drowned most breaks my fear,
For the other night when the wind blew high
That's when you lost your sweet sailor boy."

4 I'll set me down, and I'll write a song,
I'll write it neat, and I'll write it long,
And at every word I will drop a tear,
And in every line I'll set my Willie dear.

5 I wish, I wish, but it's all in vain,
I wish I was a sweet maid again,
But a maid, a maid I never shall be
Till apples grow on an orange-tree.
For a maid, a maid I shall never be,
Till apples grow on an orange-tree.

In the next year Baring-Gould collected a version and sent it to Broadwood in a letter which pointed out that Broadwood's last stanza was from a different song!

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