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Collection of eighty street ballads: The Constant Lovers

Collection of eighty street ballads on forty sheets, mostly with a woodcut printed at London, the majority by J. Catnach (1820ñ1830). London: n.p., n.d.

University of Minnesota Libraries. WILSON Rare Books Quarto 820.1 C683.

Pasted to album leaf 7: broadside containing "The Banks of Inverary" (left column) and "The Constant Lovers" (right column).

Image: vignette wood engraving of a duck standing on land, profiled against a background of water and vegetation.

The Constant Lovers.
Printed by J. CATNACH, 2, Monmouth Court, <7> Dials.

A SAILOR courted a farmer's daughter,
That liv'd convenient on the Isle of Man
But mark good people what followed after,
A long time courting against his parents will.
A long time courting, and still discoursing,
All things concerning the ocean wide,
He said my darling, at our next meeting,
If you will consent I'll make you my bride.

Why as for sailors I don't admire,
Because they sail in so many parts,
The more we love them, the more they slight us,
Leave us behind with broken hearts.
Don't you say so, my dearest jewel,
I ne'er intend to serve you so,
I have once more to cross the ocean,
You know my darling I must go.

This news was carried unto his mother,
Before he set his feet on board,
That he was courting a farmer's daughter,
Whose friends and parents doth afford,
One penny portion<. G>oing to the ocean,
Like one distracted his mother ran,
If you don't forsake her, and your bride never make her,
I will disown you to be my son.

My mother, he said, you are in a passion,
I'm very sorry you've spoke too late,
Don't yo<u> remember your first beginning,
My father married you a servant maid:
Don't you despise her, I mean to rise her,
As my own father with you has done,
So I will take her, and my bride I will make her,
You may disown me to be your son.

But when his love did hear the story,
Away to the ocean she did run,
Saying in you. passion you need not mind it,
For I have had money and you have had none.
Money or not money, you are my lot,
You have my heart and affections still ,
So I will take h<er>, and my bride I will make her,
Let my scolding mother say what s<h>e will.

So the constant lovers got married, and had an excellent fat duck for dinner.

Basic transcription by Brett Single.
Pointed brackets mark conjectural readings and emendations.


Not listed in Catnach's Catalogue (1832); neither is the adjacent song. The same broadside is reproduced by Leslie Shepard, from a copy in his own collection, in The History of Street Literature (Detroit, MI: Singing Tree P, 1973), 176. The copies differ (in Shepard's copy the wording of the the adjacent song differs in the last line, and the wood engraving appears less damaged); but the setting of "The Constant Lovers" is the same. Shepard also reports a mention by Samuel Lover in 1837 of a performance of the song in Dublin, which indirectly occasioned a parody by Percy French. The ballad, as reproduced by Shepard, is noticed by Patricia Anderson, The Printed Image and the Transformation of Popular Culture, 1790-1860 (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1991), 23, for the "surprising" incongruity of the illustration. Claude M. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1966), mentions three other broadside ballads published in the eighteenth century under the same title (346, 358, 540).

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Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
URL: <http://umn.edu/home/mh/constant.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created 4 April 1997
Last revised 8 April 1997