#02260
British Man-O'-War (Kenneth Peacock)
See also: British Man-O'-War (Kenny Family)
midi1   alt: midi2

It was down in yonder meadow
for pleasure I did stray,
And there I saw a young sailor
embracing a lady gay.
He said, "My charming Susan,
I'm going to leave the shore,
To cross the briny ocean
in a British man-o'-war."

Now Susan fell a-weeping,
"Oh sailor lad," said she,
"How can you be so foolish
as to throw yourself away?
When I'm the age of twenty-one
I will receive my store,
So change your inclination
from a British man-o'-war."

"Oh, Susan, lovely Susan,
my time has come at last,
The British flag is insulted,
old England must act fast;
And we'll be crowned with laurels
just like some jolly tar,
To face the wars of China
in a British man-o'-war."

"Oh Willie, lovely Willie,
don't face these broad Chinese,
For they will prove as treacherous,
as any Portuguese;
All by some sword or dagger
you will receive a scar,
Jolly sailor, do not venture
in a British man-o'-war."

"Oh Susan, lovely Susan,
my time has come at last,
We will go to yonder public house
and drink a parting glass,
My ship mates they are waiting
to row me from the shore,
To cross the briny ocean
in a British man-o'-war."

Willie took his handkerchief
and tore it fair in two,
"Here's one half of this till I return,
the other I'll keep for you;
When billows they surround me
and cannons loudly roar,
I'll fight for England's glory
in a British man-o'-war."

A few more words were spoken
when these lovers let go their hands,
The sailors gently manned their oars
and quickly rowed from land,
And Willie waved his handkerchief
till they were far from shore,
"Farewell Susan, better a sailor
in a British man-o'-war."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, British Man-Of-War, published by the Poet's Box in Overgate, Dundee, Scotland, probably between 1815-1821, and archived in the Word On The Street digital library of the National Library of Scotland, Shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(139). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, British Man-Of-War, published and sold by by Robert Rankin, 38, Bottle-bank, Gateshead, sometime after 1850, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmarks: Harding B 11(463) and Firth b.26(180) ....####

This variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1952 from Henry James (Harry) Curtis [1895-1963] of Joe Batt's Arm, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, p.181, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Notes:
¹ The earliest known publication of this song was in 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes).
² Most sources agree the references to China refer to the Chinese-British War or Opium Wars (1839-1842); however, Kenneth Peacock noted that the events referred to in this ballad possibly go back to the years following 1838 when Britain seized the island of Hong Kong, which became a Crown Colony in 1841 [Actual date was May of 1843 with the ratification of the Treaty of Nanjing].
³ Peacock also noted that in a variant called On Board Of A Man-Of-War, which appears in Kidson's Traditional Tunes, Susan dresses in sailor's clothes and goes with Willie to sea where she is wounded fighting the Chinese. This Newfoundland variant, with its broken token theme, is quite different.

A variant was sung by the Kenny Family from Kitchuses, NL, and recorded as British Man-O'-War.


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