The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #42245   Message #3583396
Posted By: Lighter
11-Dec-13 - 06:57 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Cruising round Yarmouth
Subject: RE: Origins: Cruising round Yarmouth
We towed on together till we came to the head,
We both towed together through Trafalgary bay.

We towed on till we came to the House of Expire,
We gave her old horse with plenty of ire.

Every one of these consecutive lines is somehow balled up.

I doubt they went arm in arm to the "head" (lavatory). More likely it was to a pub called "The Head." Similarly, they may have gone on "to the Trafalgar Bay," possibly another pub. (The historical pronunciation, TRAFlgar, would scan even better. Compare J. E. Carpenter's song, "The Launch of the 'Trafalgar'" (1841):

"For still old England, on the deep, holds sov'reign sway afar,
And proudly keeps the name and fame she won at Trafalgar—
    She won at Trafalgar,
    She won at Trafalgar;
And proudly keeps the name and fame she won at Trafalgar."

"The House of Expire" is meaningless, but "House of" at least suggests a third resort. "The house of 'The Spire'"? At least it's conceivable.

I can suggest nothing for "gave her old horse with plenty of ire," though "plenty of fire" might have figured in somehow. If "fire" (wink   wink) was involved, perhaps the whole couplet is misplaced, belonging with the action to come or its medical sequel.

Perhaps others have suggestions? Or folkified versions?