The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4499   Message #3100329
Posted By: Jim Dixon
22-Feb-11 - 10:06 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/ADD: Ladies Go A-Thieving/Curious Times
Subject: Lyr Add: LADIES DON'T GO THIEVING (from Bodleian)
I'd be interested in the historic background of this song. It sounds as if it were inspired by one particular notorious case. Jalap is a "cathartic drug." I wonder if the reference to "jalap, pills, and salts" implies that some sort of insanity defense was used in the trial.

From another broadside in the Bodleian collection, Harding B 11(2028):


1. What funny times we see, when ladies in fine rigging
Can venture through the streets by night and day a-prigging!
A doctor's lady gay, who cut along like fury,
Was tried the other day before a funny jury.

CHORUS: Jalap, pills, and salts, she was the things receiving.
A license ladies have got to ramble out a-thieving.

2. She nailed the things complete, the handkerchiefs well fitted,
But oh, so help me bob, the lady got acquitted.
But you must all agree, and that you may be sure now,
There's one law for the rich and another for the poor now.

3. Her veil hung down her face while she stood at the bar, sirs.
She seemed in much disgrace, the counsel he did jaw, sirs.
They swore it could not be, and none would be believing,
That a lady such as she would ever go a-thieving.

4. Handkerchiefs, such a lot, she collared—what a speck, sirs!—
To wipe her pretty nose, and to decorate her neck, sirs.
There never was the like. It really is deceiving,
That ladies are allowed to ramble out a-thieving.

5. If a woman very poor, who never had a veil, sirs,
Only stole a skein of thread, they'd send her off to jail, sirs.
Convicted they would be, because they had got no money.
Six months they'd have to serve. Now, is not that very funny?

6. The lovely Mrs. What's-her-name, she went along like fury,
And Mr. Be-in-time, he quite overcome the jury.
He went along like bricks, and said, such things there may be,
But all such prigging tricks could not be in a lady.

7. When at the bar she stood, such lots of folks did crowd her,
And the Jury turned her up, just like a doctor's powder.
Together they were packed, and six were unbelieving,
And swore upon their backs, no ladies went a-thieving.

8. Although she is discharged, the thing she'll long deplore now,
There is one law for the rich, and another for the poor now.
If a lady you can be, indeed, I'm not deceiving,
A license you can get to roam about a-thieving.