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Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses

DigiTrad:
THE BONNIE BUNCH OF ROSES (2)
THE BONNY BUNCH OF ROSES-O


Related thread:
Bonny Bunch of Roses - video example (13)


Joe Offer 12 Oct 20 - 05:29 PM
Joe Offer 12 Oct 20 - 05:31 PM
Liberty Boy 13 Oct 20 - 06:49 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Oct 20 - 10:13 AM
The Sandman 13 Oct 20 - 11:06 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Oct 20 - 02:49 PM
Felipa 13 Oct 20 - 05:06 PM
The Sandman 14 Oct 20 - 02:41 AM
JeffB 14 Oct 20 - 12:02 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 20 - 02:33 PM
Liberty Boy 16 Oct 20 - 05:34 AM
RTim 16 Oct 20 - 11:41 AM
JeffB 16 Oct 20 - 05:55 PM
Gordon Jackson 18 Oct 20 - 12:40 PM
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Subject: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Oct 20 - 05:29 PM

Two versions in the DT, but I didn't find any details in the Forum.

One DT Version:
THE BONNY BUNCH OF ROSES-O

By the borders of the ocean
One morning in the month of June,
To view those war-like songsters
Hear their merry notes and sweet-lie tunes
I overheard a female talking
She seemed to be in grief and woe
Conversing with young Bonaparte
Concerning the bonny bunch of roses-o.

When next I saw Napoleon,
Down on his bended knees was he,
Asking the pardon of his mother,
Who granted it most mournfully.
He says, "I'll take an army
And through tremenjous dangers I will go.
In spite of all the universe
I'll conquer the bonny bunch of roses-o."

"No, Son, don't talk so venturesome,
For England has the hearts of oak.
There's England, Ireland, and Scotland -
Their unity has ne'er been broke.
O Son, think on your father's fate,
On the Isle of St. Helene his body lies low,
And you will soon follow after.
Beware of the bonny bunch of roses-o."

Then he took one hundred thousand men,
And kings likewise to bear his train.
He was so well provided for
He thought to sweep this earth alone.
But when he arrived in Moscow,
He was overpowered by the driven snow.
When Moscow was a-blazing, there
He lost his bonny bunch of roses-o.

"O Mother, now believe me,
For I am on my dying bed.
If I had lived I would have been clever,
But now I droop my weary head.
And when my body lies mouldering,
And weeping willows o'er me grow,
The deeds of great Napoleon
Will sting the bonny bunch of roses-o"

From Traditional American Songs, Warner and Warner
Collected from John Galusha, 1941
Note: Napoleon of this song is the Emperor's son by his second
marriage. The Bonny Bunch of Roses is England, Ireland and
Scotland RG
DT #392
Laws J5
@war
filename[ BONBUNCH
TUNE FILE: BONBUNCH
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


And the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Bonny Bunch of Roses, The [Laws J5]

DESCRIPTION: Young Napoleon promises his mother that he will capture "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (Great Britain). She warns him of his father's disaster in Russia and of the strength of the British. They sorrowfully prepare for the lad's death.
AUTHOR: George Brown (source: RoudBishop)
EARLIEST DATE: 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes); c.1830 (Zimmermann)
KEYWORDS: Napoleon dialog family political war Russia
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1805 - Battle of Trafalgar ends Napoleon's hopes of invading Britain
1811 - Birth of Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte (Napoleon II)
1812-1813 - Napoleon's Russian Campaign
June 18, 1815 - Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon forced into exile
1821 - Death of Napoleon I
July 22, 1832 - Death of Napoleon II
FOUND IN: US(MA,SE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(Lond,North,South),Scotland) Ireland
REFERENCES (29 citations):
Laws J5, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Greig #94, pp. 1-2, "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
GreigDuncan1 155, "The Bonnie Bunch o' Roses" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 84, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-NovaScotia 68, "Bonny Bunch of Roses O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Warner 3, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-BoA, pp. 105-107, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 202-203, "Bonny Bunch of Roses, O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 391, "Bonny Bunch of Roses O" (1 text)
RoudBishop #2, "Bonny Bunch of Roses O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hodgart, p. 200, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 207-209, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O" (1 text, 1 tune)
OLochlainn 16, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zimmermann 32B, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses, O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moylan 184, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hayward-Ulster, pp. 17-18, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
Graham/Holmes 7, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord, pp. 301-302, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
MacSeegTrav 85, "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Reeves-Circle 14, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
Browne-Hampshire, pp. 29-31, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 988-989, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 72, "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
O'Conor, p. 127, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text)
Behan, #8, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
DallasCruel, pp. 132-134. "The Bonnie Bunch of Roses" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT 392, BONBUNCH* BONBUNC2
ADDITIONAL: Richard Hayward, Ireland Calling (Glasgow,n.d.), pp. 18-19, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (text, music and reference to Regal Zonophone recording [probably Regal Zono MR-2830 recorded ca. May 1938])
_Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 22, #1 (1973), p, 15, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O" (1 text, 1 tune, the Seamus Ennis version)

Roud #664
RECORDINGS:
Everett Bennett, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Sam Larner, "Bonny Bunch of Roses" (on SLarner01)
Tom Murphy and Minnie Murphy, "The Bonnie Bunch Of Roses" (on ITMA/CapeShoreNL)
Cyril Poacher, "The Bonny Bunch O' Roses" (on Voice08)
Ernest Poole, "Bonny Bunch of Roses" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Anthony Power, "The Bonny Bunch Of Roses" (on ITMA/CapeShoreNL)
Brigid Tunney, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (on IRTunneyFamily01)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(403), "The Bonny Bunch of Roses, O!" ("By the dangers of the ocean"), J. Harkness (Preston) , 1840-1866; also 2806 c.16(296), Harding B 16(31d), Harding B 11(404), Harding B 11(406), Harding B 11(405), "Bonny Bunch of Roses, O"; Harding B 17(350a), Harding B 11(18), Firth b.25(245), Harding B 11(4381), "Young Napoleon" or "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"; Firth b.27(457/458) View 1 of 4, "Bonny Bunch of Roses"; Firth b.27(8), "Young Napoleon"
LOCSinging, as109240, "Young Napoleon" or "The Bonny Bunch of Roses," Taylor's Song Mart (London), 19C
Murray, Mu23-y1:115, "Bonny Bunch of Roses," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The New Bunch of Loughero" (theme)
SAME TUNE:
The Bunch of Rushes, O! (per broadsides Bodleian Harding B 17(350a), Bodleian Harding B 11(18), Bodleian Harding B 11(4381))
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Bold Blucher
NOTES [130 words]: Zimmermann: "The bunch of roses is usually said to symbolize England, Scotland, and Ireland, or the red coats of the English soldiers. In a ballad printed both in England and in Ireland, 'The Grand Conversation on Napoleon', we find the lines: 'The bunch of roses did advance And boldly entered into France,' alluding to Napoleon's enemies after Waterloo."
The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:
Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001))
The probable recording date and id for Hayward's record is provided by Bill Dean-Myatt, MPhil. compiler of the Scottish National Discography. - BS
Last updated in version 5.0
File: LJ05

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2020 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Oct 20 - 05:31 PM

The other DT version:

THE BONNIE BUNCH OF ROSES (2)

By the margin of the ocean,
One pleasant evening in the month of June,
When all those feathered songsters
Their pleasant notes did sweetly tune,
'Twas there I spied a female
Who seemed to be in grief or woe,
Conversing with young Bonaparte
Concerning the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O.

Then up spake young Napoleon
And took his mother by the hand,
Saying, "Mother dear, be patient
Until I'm able to take command.
I'll build a mighty army
And through tremendous danger go.
And I never will return again
Till I've conquered the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O.

"When first you saw great Bonaparte,
You knelt upon your bended knee
And asked your father's life of him
And he granted it most mournfully.
'Twas then he took his army
And o'er the frozen Alps did go;
Saying, "I never will return again
Until I've conquered the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O.

"He took ten hundred thousand men
And kings likewise for to bear his train.
He was so well provided for
That he could sweep the world for gain.
But when he came to Moscow
He was o'erpowered by sleet and snow
And with Moscow all a-blazing,
He lost the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O."

"O, son, be not too venturesome,
For England has a heart of oak,
And England, Ireland, and Scotland,
Their unity has never been broke.
Remember your dear father;
In Saint Helena his body it lies low,
And if ever you follow after,
Beware of the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O."

"O mother, dearest mother,
Now I lie on my dying bed.
If I lived I might have been clever,
But now I rest my youthful head.
And when our bones lie mouldering
And weeping willows o'er us do grow,
The deeds of brave Napoleon
Shall conquer the Bonnie Bunch of Roses-O."

As recorded by Daithi Sproule on "A Heart Made of Glass,"
with possibly some confusion with the similar version recorded
by Nic Jones on his self-titled album.

The "young Napoleon" of this ballad is the son of Napoleon
Bonaparte by his second wife Maria Louise. Napoleon Francis
Joseph Charles Bonaparte (Napoleon II), the titular King of
Rome, was born in March 1811. He was thus a babe in arms when
the elder Napoleon invaded Russia; only three at the time of
Bonaparte's exile to Elba; four at the time of the Emperor's
return, the Hundred Days, and the Battle of Waterloo; and
just past his tenth birthday when his father died on Saint
Helena in 1821.

This song may well reflect the younger Napoleon's character; at
the very least it is certain that he died young. After several
years of illness, he passed away on July 22, 1832, at the age of
21, evidently of tuberculosis. Although the young Napoleon's
ancestry is perhaps uncertain (before the elder Bonaparte's death
Maria Louisa has borne two children by another man), those who
knew him reported that he shared his father's traits of tenacity
and intelligence. Fear, however, caused his Austrian tutors to
conceal as much of his history as possible, and to try to suppress
the boy's vague memories of his father. Small wonder if he
developed a burning desire to avenge the family's disgrace!

The reference in verse 3 to Napoleon sparing his wife's
father's life refers to Francis I, the Austrian Emperor,
whose nation suffered severely at Napoleon's hands.

The fourth verse is an understandable exaggeration. Napoleon
did not take a million troops to Moscow; in fact he never
put that many troops under arms. But hundreds of thousands
did start out on the Russian campaign. Badly hurt at
Borodino, the French took Moscow largely intact, but empty,
and had to face the bitter Russian winter with little in the
way of supplies. Few of the French would ever return.

But Britain ("the Bonny Bunch of Roses," a title of uncertain
origin) was clearly Napoleon's greatest enemy. It was England
that financed and fought the Peninsular campaign that so
so frustrated Napoleon's generals. It was English money and
influence that held so many coalitions together. And,
ultimately, it was England and Wellington that provided the
largest share of the might that defeated Napoleon at
Waterloo. Napoleon hated England, and knew he could not
have peace until she was defeated. But Napoleon could not
invade England without naval superiority, and Napoleon's
navy had been ruined by Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. On
paper, Trafalgar was a relatively minor defeat. But it lead
to Napoleon's downfall.

The rather flowery language of this ballad clearly reveals
its broadside origin. At least two American version has been
collected. One is found in this collection; the other, from
Newfoundland, is printed in Elisabeth B. Greenleaf and Grace
Y. Mansfield's "Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland" and
reprinted on pp. 105-107 of John Anthony Scott's "The Ballad
of America." RW

DT #392
Laws J5
@historical @Napoleon
filename[ BONBUNC2
TUNE FILE: BONBUNC2
CLICK TO PLAY
RW


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Liberty Boy
Date: 13 Oct 20 - 06:49 AM

George Brown is identified as the author of this song, and 'The Grand Conversation on Napoleon', by Steve Roud in 'The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. (Terry Moylan in 'A Living Voice' the Frank Harte Song Collection, Published August 2020)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Oct 20 - 10:13 AM

Yes, the attribution appears in one of Mayhew's many volumes on London Labour and London Poor. He doesn't mention George by name but George goes into some detail on how he came to write it. I can't remember how we worked out how it was George being interviewed, but his name I think appears on one of the earliest printings. Of the early 19th century broadside hacks he and John Morgan were the only ones who regularly had their names attached to the pieces they wrote for the likes of Pitts and Catnach.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Oct 20 - 11:06 AM

Broadside hack?well he wrote a good song not bad for a hack


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Oct 20 - 02:49 PM

Hack is just a word, Dick. It doesn't necessarily have negative connotations. The word in this usage just says that he was operating at the very bottom end of the market and trying to eke out a living. What they produced is like everything else produced for a commercial market, a whole pile of shite with the occasional jewel, as Child inferred. Time sorts out the former from the latter.

It's an excellent song and we have both sung it I'm sure. I think it was originally intended for the 'Rose Tree' tune but I always used the pretty Irish tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Felipa
Date: 13 Oct 20 - 05:06 PM

I sing the second version, and the other people I've heard sing this song in Ireland sing the same version. I learned it from a recording of Séamus Ennis.

There is an old Irish language song called An Binsín Luachra, the Bunch of Rushes, which goes to the same tune. But the words of that song are very different, it's more a song of seduction (the lyrics put me in mind of A Maid Going to Comber).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Oct 20 - 02:41 AM

i used to sing the bunch of rushes the version i knew waws collected in Dorset at piddletown aka puddletown collected from the same singer who sang though i live not where i love, the singer was roberts barratt.
Harry Coxs, mum used to buy broadsheets and if there was no tune they made the tune up, A friend of mine who collected songs from and knew Harry well, confirmed this


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: JeffB
Date: 14 Oct 20 - 12:02 PM

The song was among the very first that Sharp collected, being taken down in Hambridge in September 1903, the same month that he began his epic collection. The singer was Tom (Theodore) Spracklan (or Sprachan, Sprachlan, a dairyman. Three years later, and also in Somerset, he found two more fine variant melodies for the song. One of them was from 74 year-old John Cully of Farrington Gurney, and the third was sung by Capt. Lewis of Minehead. All of their three tunes seem to be related, and presumably are derived from the original Irish melody to which it was sung, 'The Bunch of Rushes'.

George Gardiner also found the song in Dorset (his informant was Mr Charles Windebank), but there it was sung to 'The Rose Tree', a tune recommended in some broadsides and presumably being chosen merely to agree with the title. In 1905 Henry Hammond heard 'The Bonny Bunch of Rushes-o' sung by Robert Barrett of Piddletown in Dorset. Frank Purslow published this version in Marrowbones on the next page to Mr Windebank's 'The Bonny Bunch of Roses-o'.

Steve Roud, in The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (2012), revealed that the song was the work of a prolific broadside writer, George Brown of London. Unusually, Brown's name appears on one of the earliest print runs for the song, produced by William Taylor of Waterloo Road in Lambeth, where 'The Bunch of Rushes' is named as the preferred tune. Another broadside with the author's name, by J. Hill of London, is on the Bodleian Broadside Ballads website. Taylor's business finished no later than 1837, but Roud's reasonable surmise is that Brown wrote the song soon after the death of François Bonaparte in 1832.

'The Bunch of Rushes' might well be the same song as 'The New Bunch of Loughero' [i.e. rushes] from which Brown took some lines, or it could be a related melody, such as 'An Bins?n Luachra', a song found in Connacht and Munster, which is usually translated as “the bunch of rushes”; however, bins?n really means a bench or (as in the song) a bed.

It seems that Brown found the Napoleonic theme useful as he wrote at least two other songs about Bonaparte, one of which again included the “bonny bunch of roses” phrase.

François Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1811 – 32), styled Napoleon II by the Bonapartists although he was never crowned, was the son of Napoleon I and Marie Louise of Austria. After 1814 he was kept in Austria and being the unwilling cause of numerous Bonapartist conspiracies was under constant surveillance. His health was always poor, and his existence lonely and unhappy. Contrary to the sentiments in the song he never showed the slightest interest in renewing the military glories of his father, and his mother ignored him until he lay dying of consumption.

The father of Marie Louise was Francis I of Austria who had made three alliances against France by 1809, which explains the fanciful line about her begging for his life.

While the French contingent in Napoleon’s Grande Armée of 1812 is thought to have approximated 300 000, his allies brought its total strength up to at least 500 000, and I have seen an estimate of up to 750 000. It is thought that about a tenth eventually returned from Russia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 20 - 02:33 PM

Super stuff, Jeff! This is what Mudcat should be about. it would be good to see more detail on the relationship with 'Bunch of Rushes'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Liberty Boy
Date: 16 Oct 20 - 05:34 AM

Thanks for this Jeff!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: RTim
Date: 16 Oct 20 - 11:41 AM

Hello - Just to correct something JeffB has written - Mr Charles Windebank was collected by Gardiner in Lyndhurst Workhouse - there was NO workhouse in Lyndhurst but there was in Ashurst a couple of miles away, (in the New Forest), Hampshire, NOT Dorset.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: JeffB
Date: 16 Oct 20 - 05:55 PM

Thanks for the positive comments folks. I was mistaken in assuming that the Somerset tunes derive from 'Rushes'. Mr Barrett's tune (the one collected by Hammond and published in Marrowbones) is not in fact similar. What it does resemble is a tune given to the Scottish collector William Christie from an Aberdeen singer, which can be found in Vol. 2 of his 'Traditional Ballad Airs' (1881). (I once downloaded Christie's complete collection but have since lost it and the URL because of a disc failure; however it must still be out there somewhere).

Of the three Somerset tunes, I don't now think that Tom Spracklan's was related to the others. However, that should be judged by someone better qualified than me. What all three do have in common though is that they do not have a B part; i.e. they are eight bars repeated. Fine tunes nevertheless.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bonny Bunch of Roses
From: Gordon Jackson
Date: 18 Oct 20 - 12:40 PM

I prefer playing this as an air. I have Christie on pdf and it is indeed recognisable as, though different to, the tune I know. JeffB (or anyone else), message me your email address and I'll send you the Christie pdf's of(both volumes).


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