Home‎ > ‎

Collection of ballads, songsheets: The Faithless Captain, or Betrayed Virgin

Collection of ballads, songsheets. 2 vols. London: J. Pitts, 1805­1840? University of Minnesota Libraries. WILSON Rare Books Quarto 820.1 Z. Vol. 2.


<Images (wood engravings): Upper left: British flag; upper right, ornamental initial D entwined with ivy, a Cupid inside; bottom: an angel standing between two stones.>

The Faithless Captain Or Betrayed Virgin

J. Pit<t>s, Printer.  Wholesa<l>e T<o>y and Marble Ware-
       house, 6 Great <S>t<.> Andrew <S>treet 7 <Di>a<l>s
        ALL YE maidens fair I pray awhile to draw near,
            I a tragical story have to tell;
        It will make your heart bleed when further I proceed<,>
            As for the truth it has befel<l>.
        In London City lived a maiden there,
            Blest with a store of wit and beauty bright<.>
        Unto a lady fair, she a servant were
            And the lady in her took delight.
        She had a son we hear who a captain were,
            A ship the Burford call'd he did command,
        And as it was found, was to India bound,
            And he must forsake the English land,
        His mother's waiting maid had his heart betray'd
            He great kindness unto her did bear,
        Tho' she was poor, yet he did adore,
            But at length he did her heart ensnare,
        Rich gold and silver bright, on his heart's delight
            With some rich things he did bestow.
        Clothed her in rich array, like a lady gay,
            But at last it proved her overthrow,
        The joyful day we hear appointed were,
            For the marriage as you shall find,
        Men lay many a snare for the maiden fair,
            Hard it is for maids to trust mankind,
        The night before they married were to be;
            He unto the maiden fair did come,
        Saying my heart's delight <be> with me to night,
            About some business that I must have done,
        Unto a tavern he took the maid straightway,
            She poor innocent maid did think no ill,
        With wine, as we hear, her senses he did ensnare
            Th<u>s the traitor had his lusted will
        But when the morning fair it did then appear,
            And s<l>eep her gentle senses did restore
        Finding thus her charms <e>nfolded in his arms<,>
            Down her cheeks t<w>o chrystal streams did pour,
        My heart's opprest with grief finding no relief,
            Since a victim to your lust I am fell.
        Now my virgin bloom you've cropt too soon,
            All joys and pleasures now I bid farewell,
        Wilt thou wed me sir; as though did say,
            This day you know the knot was to be t<ie>d,
        For ever undone now my honour is gone,
            I am afraid I shall not be your bride,
        Tho<'> your charming person I have enjoyed,
            I'll forsake my dear, heaven be severe,
        May all the substance I have be< >destroy'd,
            The ship that I command, when I leave the land,
        May it never more return again
            And my silent tomb; in this youthful bloom,
        Be in the deep and raging main
            But first I'll go to sea, 'ere I married be,
        To look after<,> honour and renown.
            A dream she said she had they never should be wed<,>
        Now my virgin<'>s honour it is gone,
            With many vows and oaths he from her arose
        And on board the ship he soon did steer<.>
            The beaut<e>ous damsel bright went that same night
        And bought some cloathing then to wear,
            Her lovely locks of hair white as the silver were,
        She cut off that none might her kn<o>w,
            Cloathed like a sailor bright she went <that> night
        To enter at the rendezvous did go,
            Being tall and slim and straight every limb
        Both dress and shape together did agree.
            The crew at her did gaze, the lieutenant says
        Young man have you ever been at sea<,>
            No she reply'd but if you'd enter me
        I soon shall become a sailor bold
            For I have a mind to go where the storms do blow
        And to seek for honour and upright<.>
            She was entered straight to be a second mate
        And on board in a little time did go
            For the Ind<i>es soon did sail away<.>
        The captain his true love did not know,
            Once upon a day he to her did say
        Mate, thy person doth so much appear,
            Just like a love of mine, I think many a time,
        When I look on you, I look upon my dear,
            She was my mother's maid I her heart betray'd
        Now I have left her thus to grieve alone,
            I will that she soon will married be,
        To some other man, 'ere my return,
        This was a piercing dart to her tender heart.
            With a deep sigh she from him turn'd away.
        Revenge ye Gods! she said on his perjur'd head;
            Who cruelly my honour did betray,
        Now comes the tragical part enough to pierce a heart<.>
            Quick she found herself with child to be,
        This cut her heart almost in twain,
            The ship's crew we hear, did love her most dear.
        Soon the lovely charming second mate,
            Began to look quite thick around the wais<t>,
        Forth from her eyes came many a briny tear,
            The captain soon did take n<o>tice of the mate,
        One day as she in the cabin were,
            And the captain there by her breast so fair,
        Thought indeed she must a woman be<.>
            The more on her he gaz'd the more he was amazed<,>
        Perfectly he thought her face he knew.
            He said, revenged I<'>ll be, if it shall be she,
        Then out of the cabin straightway he flew,
            He bid the surgeon go and call the mate.
        She trembling to the captain then did come.
            He said, I plainly see, madam, who you  be,
        I shall be revenged for what you have done.
            At his feet she then fell immediately,
        And said, do not be to me severe.
            It is for the love of thee I have crossed the sea,
        Pity my distress my dearest dear,
            You have been you know my sad overthrow,
        I little did think I were with child by thee,
            But since it is so, some pity to me sh<o>w,
        Favour a poor distressed creature here.
            Arise, a<n>d go from me, he unto her did say,
        See none of this matter you let know,
            Soon as we can get sight of land,
        I am resolved you on the shore shall go,
            She said, my dearest dear be not so severe,
        Call to mind the oaths you made to me,
            And how you did betray my virginity
        The night before we married were to be<.>
            Do not from me part, in this wild desert,
        Drown me in the watery main.
            Freely I'd comply this moment for to die,
        So let me now love by you be slain<,>
            As thus she spoke tears bedew'd her cheek<.>
        Earnestly upon her he did gaze.
            He unto her did cry, and made this reply,
        In these arms sweet Molly make your grave,
            I cannot cruel be to such constancy,
        But as to your distress heaven knows best.
            My dearest what will become of you,
        We are far from shore now the billow roar<.>
            The doctor he must your comfort be.
        The minister I'll tell what has befel<l>,
            And we'll be married upon the sea.
        The men were confused when they heard the news
            And mov<'>d to pity  for the charming fair.
        But as we hear they married were
            'Ere the morning light it did appear.
        Yet fortune as we find, to them proves unkind
            Those happy lovers to divide.
        As he sleeping were by his lovely fair,
            The winds blew high and dreadful storms arise<.>
        All hands alo<f>t they run, all dangers for to shun,
            While the swelling bosom of the sea
        Toss'd them mountains high<,> they for help did cry
            To the Lord in their extremity<.>
        At last upon a rock they received a shock
            Expecting every moment for to die<.>
        The men employed thus to save their lives
            As on a rock the gallant ship did lie<.>
        The woman on the deck she came among the rest
            In the hurry over board she fell<,>
        No one could save her the sea was her grave<.>
            A tragical story to her love to tell,
        The powers did decree she saved should not be<.>
            With waves they from the rocks were driven<,>
        The storms abated were to their joy<,>
            For this happiness they thanked kind heaven<,>
        The captain cry'd where is my bride<.>
            Having searched no one could her see,
        For oh I unlucky day she was cast away<,>
            At that he wrang his hands most bitterly<,>
        No rest he could take but he sat on the beach.
            Earnestly of heaven he did implore,
        That her corpse he might see floating on the sea<.>
            To gaze upon her he did adore,
        When two days were past he did spy at last
            Her body floating upon the main.
        O Neptune kind said he, then to favour me
            With a sight of my love again<.>
        Now like Leander here, I'll go to my dear<,>
            Ever more within her arms to sleep,
        It was for the love of me she cross'd the sea
            And made her tomb in the silent deep,
        Her love to retaliate I will share her fate<,>
            The Gods unto our vows will all witness be<,>
        My promise I will perform on this unhappy morn<.>
            So instantly he leaped into the sea,
        Many of them strove to save him then
            When too true it was his fatal hour<,>
        For the swelling wave did become his grave<.>
            They were never seen after more<.>
        Young men a warning take, how your oaths you do break<,>
            Of young virgins do not make game<,>
        Keep your vows and oaths as you propose
            Then happy blessings will attend the same.

Transcription and commentary (below) by Eric Welle.
    main  the ocean
    Leander  in Greek mythology, the lover of Hero, who swam nightly to her until he drowned in a rough sea

The quatrain rhyme scheme varies considerably, and the meter is often unsteady, but the classical references to Neptune and Leander suggest a certain sophistication.

The scorned woman disguises herself as a sailor so that she can follow her forsaking lover out to sea.  According to Stark, Female Tars, "There are verified accounts of more than twenty women who joined the Royal Navy or Marines dressed as men in the period from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century.  Some of them served for years before their true gender was discovered.  Undoubtedly there were others whose male disguise was never penetrated" (82). When such behavior was discovered it was often rationalized, as in this ballad, in terms of heterosexual desire.

Return to to Collection of ballads, songsheets.
Return to home page 

Michael Hancher
Department of English, University of Minnesota
RL: <http://mh.cla.umn.edu/faithles.html>
Comments to: mh@umn.edu
Created 30 June 1997