852 RARE: The Weekly Special – A Bawdy Ballad and some Cautionary Couplets

852 RARE: The Weekly Special – A Bawdy Ballad and some Cautionary Couplets

A sea shanty composed on the blank verso of the late 17th C. manuscript, Conveyancing precedents and notes on chancery practice, transcribed at right.

And bid us go to Portsmouth our frigot to make claim
And there we was to be paid off and so to the seas again
There’s fifteen girls at Scarborough and five and forty more
We left with child at Portsmouth and that makes just three score

It’s all you girls at Portsmouth we bid you all fairwell,
For we are bound for a long voige but where we cannot tell
And all you girls at Scarborough we bid you all adieu
When the Marsmaid sails to the norward again beware of Coxon’s crew

It’s all you girls at Scarborough we bid you all fairwell
For we are bound for a long voige but where we cannot tell
And all you girls at Portsmouth we leave you all to cry
Whilst we are roving on the seas sing lulla baby boy

If all those children grow to be good lusty boys
On board a ship as we have done they’ll make a roring hoise
On board a ship as we have done their earning to pursue
And follow close their fathers’ steps they’ll be [illegible]

In the second of the two notebooks bound together as MS 1263, seventeenth-century conveyancing precedents cover both sides of each page.  In the first, the original user wrote only on the rectos, leaving the versos blank.  In the early eighteenth century, a second set of users filled up these blank versos with a motley assortment of entries, including the sea shanty transcribed above (v. 21).

These writers copied instructions for the construction of sundials from Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick exercises: or the doctrine of handy-works (v. 17-v. 21) and wrote out astrological tables (v. 22).  They also did arithmetic problems (“A man dying gave his eldest son two-thirds of one-quarter of his estate . . . ,” vv. 5-7 and 12-16).  Someone copied or drafted a letter in which Jonathan Watson asks his brother to send a copy of Ward’s Mathematics because “I have learned so far as to study it out further by the Helpe of a book.” (v. 8)  Lest you should think the verso-writer(s) cared only for natural sciences and the girls of Portsmouth, we’ll go out with a sample from a set of sterner poems (v. 11):

This World’s just like the strumpet of whom I’ve read
Who with sweet fume inticeth to her bed
With Amorous Glances promises a bliss
And hides Destruction with a feigned kiss
She has her tricks and her ensnaring wiles
But Lodges Death mid deceitful smiles
She Hugs the soul she hates and does prove
A very Judas where she feigns to love
Take heed therefore, lest thou be catched with Snare
And buy your late repentance much too dear

Post contributed by Dorothy Africa and Ana Enriquez

And bid us go to Portsmouth our frigot to make claim

And there we was to be paid off and so to the seas again

There’s fifteen girls at Scarborough and five and forty more

We left with child at Portsmouth and that makes just three score

It’s all you girls at Portsmouth we bid you all fairwell,

For we are bound for a long voige but where we cannot tell

And all you girls at Scarborough we bid you all adieu

When the Marsmaid sails to the norward again beware of Coxon’s crew

It’s all you girls at Scarborough we bid you all fairwell

For we are bound for a long voige but where we cannot tell

And all you girls at Portsmouth we leave you all to cry

Whilst we are roving on the seas sing lulla baby boy

If all those children grow to be good lusty boys

On board a ship as we have done they’ll make a roring hoise

On board a ship as we have done their earning to pursue

And follow close their fathers’ steps they’ll be [illegible]

 

In the second of the two notebooks bound together as MS 1263, seventeenth-century conveyancing precedents cover both sides of each page. In the first, the original user wrote only on the rectos, leaving the versos blank. In the early eighteenth century, a second set of users filled up these blank versos with a motley assortment of entries, including the sea shanty transcribed above (v. 21).

 

These writers copied instructions for the construction of sundials from Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick exercises: or the doctrine of handy-works (v. 17-v. 21) and wrote out astrological tables (v. 22). They also did arithmetic problems (“A man dying gave his eldest son two-thirds of one-quarter of his estate . . . ,” vv. 5-7 and 12-16). Someone copied or drafted a letter in which Jonathan Watson asks his brother to send a copy of Ward’s Mathematics because “I have learned so far as to study it out further by the Helpe of a book.” (v. 8) Lest you should think the verso-writer(s) cared only for natural sciences and the girls of Portsmouth, we’ll go out with a sample from a set of sterner poems (v. 11):

 

This World’s just like the strumpet of whom I’ve read

Who with sweet fume inticeth to her bed

With Amorous Glances promises a bliss

And hides Destruction with a feigned kiss

She has her tricks and her ensnaring wiles

But Lodges Death mid deceitful smiles

She Hugs the soul she hates and does prove

A very Judas where she feigns to love

Take heed therefore, lest thou be catched with Snare

And buy your late repentance much too dear

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