AS I rov’d out one evening down by a river side,
I heard a lovely maid complain, the tears fell from her eyes,
It is a cold and stormy night, these words she did say,
My love is on the raging sea, bound for America.
My love, he was a sailor bold, his age was scarce sixteen,
He was as nice a young man, as ever you did see,
My father he has riches great, and Riley he was poor,
Because I loved this sailor, they could not him endure.
Riley was my love’s name, - he liv’d down by the sea,
My mother took me by the hand, and these words she did say,
If you be fond of Riley, let him leave this country,
Your father says he’ll take his life, or shun his company.
Oh! mother dear, don’t be severe, where shall I find my love,
My very heart lies in his breast, as constant as a Dove.
Oh, daughter dear, I’m not severe, there is one thousand pound,
Send Riley to America, to purchase there some ground.
When she got the money, to Riley she did run,
This very night, to take your life, my father charged his gun,
Here is one thousand pounds in gold, my mother sent to you,
Sail off to America, and there I’ll follow you.
When Riley got the money, next day he sail’d away,
When he got his foot on board, these words she did say,
Here is a token of my love, and we’ll break it in two,
You’ll have my heart, and half my ring, until I find out you.
It was in twelve months after, she was walking by the sea,
When Riley, he came back again, and took his love away,
The ship was wrecked, all hands were lost, her father grieved full sore,
Found her in Riley’s arms, and they were drown’d upon the shore.
They found a letter in her breast, and it was wrote in blood,
Saying, Cruel was my father that thought to shoot my love;
So let this be a warning to all you fair maidens gay,
Never to send the man they love upon the raging sea.
J Ashton – Modern Street Ballads (1888)