The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1682   Message #6116
Posted By: rich r
02-Jun-97 - 11:44 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Auctioning Off Wives
Subject: Lyr Add: SALE OF A WIFE
There is a tune, but it appears to have been "written." The song, JOHN HOBBS, comes from the book "The Rigs of the Fair" by Roy Palmer and Jon Raven (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1976, ISBN 0-521-20908-0). The footnotes at the end of the book indicate that Jon Raven wrote the tune. The book also lists a related recording "Wife for sale: Songs of a changing world" (Leader LER 2083). I know nothing about the recording or its availability. Finally, the same book contains a second song on the same topic. There is no music and it is not written in verse form, so I did not immediately recognize it as a song. The words are listed below.

SALE OF A WIFE (In This Neighborhood--Mrs. You-Know-Who)
19th century street ballad

Come all you lads and lasses gay, and banish care and strife,
In the market place, a mason did by auction sell his wife;
Thirteen shilling and a penny for the lady was the sum,
And to see the curious spree, some thousands soon did run;
In the market place, I do declare, it's true upon my life,
A mason did the other day, by auction sell his wife.

This man and wife, good lack-a-day, did often disagree;
For she often pawned her husband's clothes to go upon the spree.
So he led her to the market, with a halter, I am told,
And there she was, so help my Bob, by public auction sold.

When the auctioneer began the sale, a jolly farmer cried,
Here's five and fourpence half-penny for the mason's lushy bride;
A tanner cried out seven and six, and then the butcher said,
I'll give you ten and sevenpence, besides a bullock's head.
She's going cried the auctioneer, she's going, upon my life.
Tinkers, cobblers, sailors, will you buy a charming wife?

Such fighting, scratching, tearing too, before no one did see;
Such roaring, bawling, swearing, O! blow me, it was a spree.
At length a rum old cobbler did give a dreadful bawl,
Here's thirteen and a penny, with my lapstone and my awl.
Thirteen and a penny, when down the hammer dropt,
With whiskers, apron, bustle, shawl, stays, petticoat, and smock.

A lushy mason's lady was this blooming damsel gay,
She did unto the hammer come upon a market day;
Bakers, butchers, masons, did bid for her, we hear,
While a lot of rum old women pitched into the auctioneer.
Young men and maids did halloa, while married folks did sneer
They frightened the old cobbler and knocked down the auctioneer.

The cobbler took the lady up just like a Scotchman's pack,
And the funny mason's lady rode upon the cobbler's back.
Some laughed till they bursted, while others were perplexed,
But the cobbler bristled up his wife with two big balls of wax;
The cobbler sat her on his knee, and joyfully did bawl,
While the lady knocked about the seat the lapstone and the awl.

Then the mason he did sell his wife, as you shall understand,
And thirteen and a penny was popt into his hand;
He whistled and capered, for to banish care and strife,
He went into a gin-shop, singing, I have sold my wife;
So the divorced mason he may go, to banish care and strife,
Unto the market place again and buy another wife.

Now the cobbler and the lady are both in a stall,
While the cobbler works the bristle, and the lady works the awl.
And they upon the lapstone do so merry play together,
Singing heel and toe, gee up, gee woe, big balls of wax and leather.
And day and night in sweet delight, they banish care and strife,
The merry little cobbler and his thirteen shilling wife.

rich r