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Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost

DigiTrad:
THE DREADFUL GHOST


Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Mar 10 - 08:58 PM
RTim 04 Mar 10 - 11:46 PM
Joe Offer 05 Mar 10 - 01:29 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Mar 10 - 02:56 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Mar 10 - 03:24 PM
Susan of DT 05 Mar 10 - 05:56 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Mar 10 - 09:26 PM
Bob the Postman 06 Mar 10 - 09:29 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Mar 13 - 01:13 PM
Jim Dixon 21 Mar 13 - 01:24 PM
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Subject: ADD: Sailor and the Ghost of His Deserted Dearie
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 08:58 PM

^^THE SAILOR AND THE GHOST
The Sailor and the Ghost of His Deserted Dearie
Anon.
1
'Tis of a sailor this song I write,
Who on the seas took great delight,
The female sex for to beguile;
At length, two by him were with child.
2
He promised to be true with both,
And bound himself all in an oath,
To marry them, if he had life,
And one of them he made his wife.
3
The other, being left alone,
Said, oh! you false deluding one,
By me you've done a wicked thing,
Which public shame will to you bring.
4
Then to a silent wood she went,
The public shame for to prevent,
And soon she finished up the strife,
And cut the slender thread of life.
5
She hanged herself upon a tree-
Two men, a hunting, did her see;
Her flesh by birds was beastly tore,
Which grieved the young men's hearts full sore.
6
Straightway they went, and cut her down,
And in her breast a note was found;
The note was written out at large-
Bury me not, I do you charge:
7
But on the ground here let me lie,
When every one that passeth by
May, by me, a warning take,
And see the folly when 'tis too late.
8
So, as he is false, I will be just,
And here on earth he shall have no rest.
So, as she said, she plagued him so,
Till, at last, to sea he was forced to go.
9
As he was on his mainmast high,
A little boat he did espy;
And to prevent the wicked thing,
It made him tremble every limb.
10
Down on the deck this young man goes,
And to his captain his mind disclosed;
There is a spirit coming hence,
I pray you, stand in my defense.
11
Upon the deck the captain goes,
And there he spied a fatal ghost;
Ghost, -"Captain," said she, "you must and can
With speed help me to such a man."
12
Capt. - "In St. Helen's this young man died,
And in St. Helen's his body lies."
Ghost, -"Captain," said she, "do not say so,
He is dwelling down in your ship below
13
"And if you stand up in his defense,
A mighty storm I will send hence;
Will cause your men and you to weep;
And leave you, sleeping, in the deep."
14
Down from the deck this captain goes,
And brought this young man to his foes.
She fixed her eyes on him so grim,
Which made him tremble, ev'ry limb.
15
"It was well known I was a maid,
When first by you I ws betrayed;
I am a spirit, come for thou,
You balked me once, But I'll have you now."
16
Then, to preserve both ship and men,
Into the boat they forced him then;
The boat sunk down in a flame of fire,
Which made the sailors all admire.

Moral
All you that do to love belong,
Now you have heard this mournful song,
Be true to one, lest ill betide,
And don't delude poor womankind.

The Universal Songster, or Museum of Mirth vol. 2, George Routledge and Sons, London, New York.

Sailor and the Ghost, Traditional Ballad Index. Found in U. S., Canada, and UK. Found in an 1805 broadside, Harding B10(68), Bodleian Collection. AKA "The Sailor's Tragedy," "The Sea Ghost," "The Dreadful Ghost," "The Ghost So Grim."
Coll. by Leach, Peacock and Creighton, Greig and others. Laws P34A/B.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: THE SAILOR AND THE GHOST
From: RTim
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:46 PM

This s a version of the song collected in Hampshire, England and that is on my new CD - George Blake's Legacy - Forest Tracks Records.

Tim Radford
.......................................

I AM A SAILOR

I am a sailor, of whom I write and in the seas took great delight,
Two female sex I did beguile till at length by me they proved with child.

I promised I'd be true to both and bound them safe all with an oath
Saying I'd marry if I had but life, and one of them I made my wife.

The other she was left alone, she said 'You false deluded man,
By me you've done a wicked thing,
You have brought me to some public shame.'

Some public shame for to prevent into a silent wood she went
And soon she ended up the strife: she cut the tender thread of life.

She hung herself up to a tree, two men a-hunting did her see
Her flesh by birds was beastly tore,
Which grieved those young men's hearts full sore.

They took a knife and cut her down and in her bosom a note was found
This note was written out in large, 'Bury me not I do you charge.'

'But here on earth then let me lie that everyone that do pass by
They may by me a warning take and shun their folly before it's too late.'

'Since he is false, then I'll be just, for here on earth he shall have no rest.'
When she said this it plagued him so and to the seas he was forced to go.

As he stood on the main-mast high a little boat he chanced to spy
He was thinking on that wicked deed which almost made his heart to bleed.

Then down on deck this young man goes and to the captain his mind disclosed
'Captain' he said, 'stand in my defense or some evil spirit will fetch me hence.'

(The next verse is not from Blake)
The spirit all on the deck did stand enquiring for this wicked young man
'That young man he died long ago he died for the loss and the love of you.'

'Twas in Kilkenny this young man died, tis in Kilkenny his body lies
'Captain,' she said, 'now don't say so say so, for he is standing in your ship below.'

'And if you stand in his defense a mighty storm I will send hence
Will cause you and your seamen to weep I'll have you all sleeping in the deep.'

Then down from the deck our captain goes,
Brought up this young man to face his foes
She fixed her eyes on him so grim, which made him tremble on every limb.

'It was well known when I was a maid twas first by thee I was betrayed
I am a spirit sent for thou you deceived me once but I'll have thee now.'

Now to protect both ship and men into the boat they forced him then
Which did our seamen much to admire
The boat sank down in a flame of fire.

Come all young men that to love belong since you have heard my mournful song
Whatever you do be true to one don't you delude poor woman wrong.


Gardiner mss. no. 315 from notebook no. 6 page 79 collected on 18th June 1906 in Southampton. It appears in Roud as no. 568 and in Laws as P34A.
There is also a version in Purslow's Wanton Seed on page 101 called 'The Sailor's Tragedy' with a text, augmented with Blake's, and tune from S. Gregory of Beaminster, Dorset collected by the Hammonds. That is where my verse 11 originates.
Gardiner says of this song in his notes:
'Here's an excellent plot for a tragedy or tragic opera?'
In some collections it is also called 'The Dreadful Ghost'. The Hammonds collected three versions in Dorset, but this is the only version Gardiner collected in Hampshire. However the song seems also to have been very popular in Nova Scotia, Canada and Scotland, as several versions exist in the Fowke, Creighton and Greig-Duncan collections.

Versions of this song have also been recorded recently in North America, particularly by Tony Barrand and John Roberts, and also Debra Cowan.
Blake's tune is, according to Purslow, clearly related to 'The Croppy Boy', and the song is rare from the tradition (not withstanding the facts above) and that it is presumably of 17th century origin, although the collected texts seem to stem from 18th century broadsides.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 01:29 AM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Sailor and the Ghost, The [Laws P34A/B]

    DESCRIPTION: A pregnant girl hangs herself after being abandoned by her lover. The guilty youth goes to sea to escape her ghost, but the spirit follows and finds him. She threatens the captain until he is produced, and then burns the ship with him aboard
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1805 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 10(68))
    KEYWORDS: pregnancy abandonment ghost disaster suicide
    FOUND IN: US(MA,SE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber))
    REFERENCES (10 citations):
    Laws P34A, "The Sailor's Tragedy (The Sailor and the Ghost A)"/P34B, "Handsome Harry (The Sailor and the Ghost B)"
    Greig #130, pp. 2-3, "The Ghost So Grim" (1 text)
    GreigDuncan2 341, GreigDuncan8 Addenda, "The Ghost So Grim" (7 texts, 2 tunes)
    BrownII 68, "Handsome Harry" (1 text, identified by Laws as P34B)
    Creighton/Senior, pp. 151-154, "The Dreadful Ghost" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
    Creighton-Maritime, pp. 116-117, "The Dreadful Ghost" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Peacock, pp. 398-403, "The Sea Ghost" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
    Leach-Labrador 18, "The Sailor's Tragedy" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Mackenzie 92, "The Sailor's Tragedy" (1 text)
    DT 512, DREDGHOS

    Roud #568
    BROADSIDES:
    Bodleian, Harding B 10(68), "The Sailor and the Ghost," Laurie and Whittle (London), 1805; also 2806 c.8(242), "The Sailor and the Ghost"
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B)" [Laws K22]
    cf. "On One Thursday Evening" (tune, according to GreigDuncan2))
    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    The Murdered Girl
    The Spirit Grim
    File: LP34

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 02:56 PM

The Sea Ghost, collected by Peacock in Newfoundland, is similar to the broadside but the three versions have interesting differences, and the tunes are different.

Version A
The first verse is cast in the first person, and there are a few other variations.
Only those of the verses that vary from the broadside are given for versions A and B; version C is complete in six verses.

1
I am a butcher bound by my right,
And on the ocean I took great delight
Till two young females did me beguile,
And one of them they did prove with child.
2
The other one in discontent
Down in some silent grove she went,
All for to finish and end all strife,
She cut the single sweet thread of life.

(The captain at first said,
"'Twas in St. Tilly your young man died,
'Twas in St. Tilly his body lies."

I have not found a 'St. Tilley' location.

Version B
1
Oh I am a sailor and home do write,
And on the seas take great delight,
The females think they did me beguile,
Till at length by two fair maids had a child.

The version has only eight verses.
The part about the captain is left out, and the song ends:
8
One day while climbing the main-top high,
A little boat he chanced to spy,
A little boat with a woman in,
May this young man tremble down every limb!

Version C
1
One day, one day in the main-top high
A little white boat oh he chanced to spy,
A little white boat oh appeared to him,
A woman and two little men.
2
Down decks, down decks oh this young man goes,
Down decks, down decks oh to escape his foes,
Saying "Captain, captain stand my defence,
For there is a ghost oh a-coming in."
3
Down decks, down decks oh the captain goes,
He ordered this young man unto his foes,
Where she fixed her eyes on him so grim
Which made him tremble in every limb.
4
"Once I was a maid as you have known,
And 'twas by you I was overthrown,
Now I'm a ghost oh just come for thou,
You balked me once but I'll have you now."
5
She took him oh all by the hand
Down in this boat oh she made him stand,
The boat went don in a flame of fire
Which caused the captain for to admire.
6
When she sank oh she rose again,
And then she sang oh this mournful strain:
"Captain and sailors I'll leave behind,
Don't never prove false to young womankind."

Peacock says the ballad dates from the middle of the 18th C. and appeared to have enjoyed some popularity on the stage. He mentions the fancy illustrated broadside of 1805, with the version sung by three stage personalities.

All three versions have a musical score; Peacock says the tune of B is the best. He adds, "Those who wish to use a complete version of the ballad will no doubt make their own collation of the texts."

Pp. 398-402, Vol. 2, Kenneth Peacock, 1965, Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, National Museum of Canada.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 03:24 PM

I haven't time to write out my notes to the second edition of Wanton Seed just now, but a close look at the 1805 broadside throws up some interesting detail. It was being performed in the theatre by several well-known actors of the day as 'A Whimsical ballad'. I translate this to mean it was probably being burlesqued as were many traditional ballads during the 18thc. The ballad has several times been rewritten/updated/relocated to include details about more current events and therefore appeal more to more recent audiences.
See 'Handsome Harry' (Laws P34B)
'A New Song on the Ghost of Mary Ashfield' etc printed in Birmingham, in the Madden Collection.

The likelihood is that it was printed on one of those 3-4 column broadsheets c1750 by the likes of the Diceys and took off from there.

Longshot...could have been a parody on one of the other 'Jonah' ballads, Demon Lover, Captain Grant, Cruel Ship's Carpenter etc.

Can't help with tunes I'm afraid.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Susan of DT
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 05:56 PM

Version in the DT:
Dreadful Ghost


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 09:26 PM

The version known as Handsome Harry was printed on American broadsides and in the Forget-Me-Not Songster, which went through several editions between the 1840s-1870s (not seen).
Belden and Hudson, in Brown vol. II, give an incomplete version with some corrections taken from the Songster. This version coll. Colington, NC.

Handsome Harry
1
Come all you loyal-hearted lovers,
Come and listen unto me.
Unto you I will discover
A most doleful purgary.(1)
(1) doleful perjury
2
It was of a sailor such delighted(2)
Pretty fair maidens to betray.
When he gained their love he slighted
And to another took his way.
(2) who much delighted
3
Handsome Harry he was called;
In Southhampton did dwell.
To the Betsey ship most famous
He belonged, 'tis full well to know.(3)
(3) 'tis known full well
4
Among the rest of them he courted
Kate and Ruth he did betray.(4)
When he gained their love, he slighted
And with them he would not stay.(5)
(4) beguile (5) Both of them were big with child
5
Both did think to have young Harry,
Which he promised on his life;
Both of them he thought to marry,(6)
But at length made Kate his wife.
(6) Each of them thought he would marry
6
Ruth she heard it, fell to weeping,
Crying out in bitter woe,
'Is this your promise keeping,
A fair maid to ruin so?'
7
Reachedly with her own garter(7)
Hung the self in a tree;(8)
And in a few days after
Two men a-hunting did her see.
(7) So wretchedly (8) She hung herself upon a tree
8
They stood amazed gazing on her
While the dogs did howl and roar.
At the sight they were much surprised;
The ravenous birds her flesh had torn.
9
They took her down in great pity,
Wondering what the cause might be;
And they found a note about her,
It was: 'Let no man bury me.
10
'But on this earth just let me perish,(9)
To all maids a warning be:
Have a care of all false lovers
Or be ruined soon like me.
(9) But above ground
11
'They will come in false pretense,
Swearing they love none but you;
All the time they are false-hearted,
Seeking whom they may .....(10)
(10) may undo
12
'After they have gained your love (11)
You are nothing but low infidels. (11)
You may repent at your leisure
Or like me go hang yourselves.'
(11)When they've gained your virgin treasure
You are whores and infidels.

No. 68, pp. 250-251, 1952, H. M. Belden and A. P. Hudson, Folk Ballads from North Carolina. Vol. 2, Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore. Duke Univ. Press.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 09:29 AM

Regarding the use of the "Croppy Boy" tune for some versions of "Dreadful Ghost", the following lines are common to both--

"In St. Helen's (Dungannon) this young man died,
And in St. Helen's (Dungannon) his body lies."

"Croppy" derives from the rebellion of 1798, so it is roughly contemporary with "Dreadful"'s 1805 debut in print. Which came first?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SAILOR AND THE GHOST (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Mar 13 - 01:13 PM

From the Bodleian broadside collection, Harding B 10(68).


THE SAILOR AND THE GHOST:
A whimsical Ballad.—As sung by Mr. Moody, Mr. Suett, and Mr. R. Palmer.

1. 'Tis of a sailor this song I write,
Who on the seas took great delight
The female sex for to beguile.
At length two were by him with child.

2. He promised to be true with both,
And bound them safe all in an oath
To marry one, if he had life,
And one of them he made his wife.

3. The other, being left alone,
Said, "Oh! you false deluding one,
By me you've done a wicked thing,
Which public shame will to you bring."

4. Then to a silent wood she went,
Her public shame for to prevent,
And soon she finished up the strife,
And cut the tender thread of life.

5. She hanged herself upon a tree.
Two men a-hunting did her see.
Her flesh by birds was beastly tore,
Which grieved the young men's heart full sore.

6. Straightway they went and cut her down,
But in her breast a note was found.
The note was written out at large:
"Bury me not, I do you charge,

7. "But on the ground here let me lie,
Where everyone that passeth by
May by me a warning take
And see the folly when 'tis too late.

8. "So as he is false, I will be just,
And here on earth he shall have no rest."
So as she said, she plagued him so,
Till at last to sea he was forced to go.

9. As he was on his mainmast high,
A little boat he did espy,
And to prevent the wicked thing,
It made him tremble every limb.

10. Down on the deck this young man goes
And to his captain his mind disclosed:
"There is a spirit coming hence.
I pray you stand by my defence."

11. Upon the deck the captain goes
And there he spied a fatal ghost.
"Captain," said she, "you must and can
With speed help me to such a man."

12. "In St. Helen's this young man died
And in St Helen's his body lies."
"Captain," said she, "do not say so.
He is dwelling down in your ship below,

13. "And if you stand up in his defence,
A mighty storm I will send hence,
Will cause your men and you to weep
And leave you sleeping in the deep."

14. Down from the deck this captain goes
And brought this young man to his foes.
She fixed her eyes on him so grim,
It made him tremble every limb.

15. "It was well known I was a maid
When first by you I was betrayed.
I am a spirit come for thou.
You baulked me once, but I'll have you now."

16. Then to preserve both ship and men,
Into a boat they forced him.
The boat sunk down in a flame of fire,
Which made the sailors all admire.

MORAL.
17. All you that do to love belong,
Now you have heard this mournful song,
Be true to one, lest ill betide,
And don't delude poor womankind.

- - -
Published 25th March, 1805,
By LAURIE and WHITTLE,
No. 53, Fleet Street, London.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor and the Ghost/Dreadful Ghost
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Mar 13 - 01:24 PM

Argh! I just noticed, the text I have just posted is virtually the same as the first one posted by Q above, although it comes from a different source.

With, perhaps some small differences: I notice Q has, in verse 2, "bound himself" which makes more sense than "bound them safe" which I copied (correctly, as it happens) from the broadside.

So if someone wants to sing this song, I recommend you compare the two copies carefully.


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