Modern Street Ballads


Duke William and a Nobleman, heroes of England’s nation,
One morning, nigh to two o’clock, did take their recreation;
Into the country they did go, in sailor’s dress from top to toe,
Said Duke William, now let us go and know, how they use the brave sailors.

Dressed all in their sailor’s trim, they straightway hastened to an inn,
And when they were there, they made all the people stare at their manly appearance;
The landlady viewed them; by good words they assail her,
Said she, come in, be not afraid, I love the jolly sailor.

Then up the stairs they did go, and in a room did enter,
The duke did say, Landlady, please, bring wine both white and red,
Before the wine was drunk out, a press-gang bold and stout,
In the lower rooms for sailors bold did look and search about.

The landlady said, go upstairs, if sailors you are seeking,
But one’s so fat that I believe, you’ll hardly care to ship him;
Ne’er mind, the Press-gang they did say, and went without delay,
We’re jolly sailors, brothers, from what ship are you, we pray?

We do belong to George, said Will; said they, Where’s your protection?
We’ve none at all, they did reply, don’t cast on us reflection;
The lieutenant then did say, brothers, come without delay,
They shall not make you a prey, our warrant is for sailors.

They led them to their leader then, the captain did them meet,
The duke, he said, Kind gentleman, take great care of your sheep.
With that the Captain he did swear, I am your shepherd, I declare,
We’ll make you know you saucy are, get down among the sailors.

The Nobleman he did go down, but the duke, he refused,
At which the officers did frown, and sadly hiim abused:
Where must I lie? his highness said, may I not have a feather bed,
You’re fat enough, they all replied, pig in amongst the sailors.

Then straight below the duke did go, unto his comrade, Sir,
How he did swear, to see the fate of many a brisk young blade, Sir;
Below he tore his trousers, and calling for some tailors,
The Captain said, you saucy blade, there’s no one here but sailors.

For your bold airs, the Captain said, you’ll surely get a flog, Sir,
Quick to the gangway him convey, and whip him like a dog, Sir,
Come, strip, he cried; the duke replied, I do not like your law, Sir,
I ne’er will strip for to be whipped, so strip me if you dare, Sir.

Then instantly the boatswain’s mate began for to undress him,
But, presently, he did espy the star upon his breast, sir;
Then on their knees they straight did fall, and for mercy soon did call,
He replied, You’re base villains, thus using us poor sailors.

No wonder that my royal father cannot man his shipping,
’Tis by using them so barbarously, and always them a-whipping,
But for the future, sailors all, shall have good usage, great and small,
To hear the news, together all cried, May God bless Duke William.

He ordered them fresh officers that stood in need of wealth,
And with the crew he left some gold, that they might drink his health,
And when that they did go away, the sailors loud huzzaéd
Crying, blessed be that happy day whereon was born Duke William.

* This is supposed to refer to some frolic of William IV.’s when he was Duke of Clarence, and properly belongs to last century.

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