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Meaning of 'ball and down'?

Bev and Jerry 15 May 15 - 02:36 PM
Steve Gardham 15 May 15 - 02:55 PM
Richard Mellish 15 May 15 - 02:57 PM
Noreen 15 May 15 - 05:49 PM
Gurney 15 May 15 - 06:25 PM
Gurney 16 May 15 - 12:13 AM
Richard Mellish 16 May 15 - 12:40 AM
GUEST,Noreen working 16 May 15 - 07:48 AM
Steve Gardham 16 May 15 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 16 May 15 - 04:51 PM
Bev and Jerry 16 May 15 - 09:16 PM
Noreen 17 May 15 - 08:39 AM
Bev and Jerry 17 May 15 - 02:32 PM
Hagman 17 May 15 - 08:33 PM
MGM·Lion 18 May 15 - 12:50 AM
Snuffy 18 May 15 - 10:44 AM
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Subject: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 15 May 15 - 02:36 PM

In some versions of "The White Cockade", notably Kate Rusby's, there's a line in the first verse where her lover is being 'convinced' to join the military and he says, "They kindly did invite me to a flowing ball and down".

Anyone know the meaning of that phrase?

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 May 15 - 02:55 PM

Well for a start it's 'bowl' as in booze. I presume the reference to 'down' is the recruiting sergeant paid the money down, which was often a prelude to recruitment. I have read that one method was the sergeant put a shilling in the bottom of the tankard and when the poor sop drank the pot he had taken the king's shilling. Also read that tankards were fitted with glass bottoms to avoid this problem but how true it is I'm not certain.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 15 May 15 - 02:57 PM

Seems to be a mondegreen. Try "flowing bowl in town".


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Noreen
Date: 15 May 15 - 05:49 PM

Looks like Kate was using Frank Kidson's version, from his mum:
White Cockade (The Summer Morning)

which has "to a flowing bowl, and down,
They advanced me..." etc.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Gurney
Date: 15 May 15 - 06:25 PM

As Noreen says, 'They kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl, and down they advanced me some money.... 10/- and a crown.' 15 shillings in total.
Shortchanged him. It was usually a 21 shillings. :-)


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Gurney
Date: 16 May 15 - 12:13 AM

I think even that was a corruption. Possibly 'A guinea from the Crown.'
21 shillings, as I said.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 16 May 15 - 12:40 AM

I've heard several versions of this song, from recordings of traditional singers and in the revival, with many minor variations of the words. A search for Roud 191 in The Full English gives 57 hits. "... a shilling from the Crown ..." would seem the most appropriate version of that last-mentioned phrase, referring to "the King's shilling".


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: GUEST,Noreen working
Date: 16 May 15 - 07:48 AM

Yes, the first version I ever heard was "a shilling from the Crown" which makes most sense to me, and I always imagined the others were a mishearing/ misremembering.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 May 15 - 10:26 AM

Here the equivalent lines from some early versions:

The Light Blues (1794)
'Bad company enticed me to drink good beer that's brown
the bounty that they gave to me two guineas and a crown.

The Blue Cockade c1800
They kindly invited me to drink a flowing bowl
They advanced the money, ten guineas and a crown.

The Orange and Blue 1800
Bad company enticed me to partake of a full flowing bowl
And the advance money they gave me was a guinea and a crown.

Different bribes for different shades of blue it appears. What these and others similar demonstrate is that by 1800 the song was firmly embedded in oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 16 May 15 - 04:51 PM

It's obviously one sentence.....'they kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl and down they advanced me some money, a shilling from the Crown.'..ie   they gave him the King's Shilling which was given to any enlisted man as a token payment to seal your enlistment. It is said that the origin of glass bottoms in tankards is so that you could see if some unscrupulous recruiting sergeant hadn't dropped a shilling in, and by drinking you were deemed to have 'taken the Kings shilling' and were now enlisted...this is a totally made up 'folk belief' ......


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 16 May 15 - 09:16 PM

Well, the line in question cannot be "a shilling from the crown" because, as Dave Hunt has said, the entire verse says, "they kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl and down they advanced me some money, a shilling from the Crown." That is, the line in question rhymes with "a shilling from the crown".

Dave, are you saying that this is two phrases, one being "they kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl" and the other being, "and down they advanced me some money, a shilling from the crown"?

That makes pretty good sense although it seems a bit awkward. That's the best explanation so far.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Noreen
Date: 17 May 15 - 08:39 AM

Yes, Bev and Jerry.
That's what we've all been saying. :)

)


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 17 May 15 - 02:32 PM

Thanks. Some of us are slower than others!

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Hagman
Date: 17 May 15 - 08:33 PM

See also "The recruited collier" (Roud 3503), also recorded by KR, plus Anne Briggs, Barry Dransfield, Box Fox, and many other:

"Oh, what's the matter with you, my lass, and where's your dashing Jimmy?
The soldier boys have picked him up and sent him far, far from me.
Last pay day he went off to town and them red-coated fellows
Enticed him in and made him drunk—and he'd be better gone to the gallows.

The very sight of his cockade, it sets us all a-crying,
And me! I nearly fainted twice, I thought that I was dying.
My father would have paid the smart and he'd run for the golden guinea.
But the sergeant swore he'd kissed the book, so now they've got young Jimmy."

"..the golden guinea" = 21 shillings.

(I also recall the old folk tale of why tankards had a glass bottom - always meant to research that one...)

Michael.


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 May 15 - 12:50 AM

To clarify -

"The smart" = 'Smart money -- a sum paid by a recruit, previous to being sworn in, to procure his release from service' (Wikidictionary)

After having "kissed the book" [ie being formally sworn in and kissing The Bible] was thus too late to procure discharge by 'paying the smart'.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Meaning of 'ball and down'?
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 May 15 - 10:44 AM

The guinea was the price of buying yourself out, which would be considerably higher than the inducement originally offered to enlist - a single shilling.

Otherwise they would be able to just give the money back and walk away.


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