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Broadsheet featuring the ballads 'Soon upon the Billows, Mother, or a Soldier's farewell to his Friends' and 'Rolling home in the morning, boys'.

Date: c 1850 - c 1870
Overall: 262 x 195 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017372
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring two ballads titled 'Soon upon the Billows, Mother, or a Soldier's farewell to his Friends' - by J. Dundon to be sung to the air "Before the Battle Mother".
    The sheet is published by W.S. Fortey, general steam printer and publisher, Bloomsbury.
    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation and migration.
    HistoryRolling Home In The Morning Boys.

    I am of a school of boys who're always gay and free,
    And good for any little game, whatever it may be;
    For fun at night is our delight, and then let ome what may,
    We never think of going home, until the break of day.

    Rolling home in the morning, boys, in the morning, boys,
    Rolling home in the morning, boys, before the break of day.

    At eight o'clock we start from home, and then our pals we meet,
    We "Tommy Dodd" for glasses round, or some one stands a treat ;
    If once we enter dancing-rooms, we never leave again,
    Until we've wound the vening up with glorious Champagne.
    Rolling home &C.

    Uproarious we sally forth, a lot of jolly sparks,
    To chaf the Cabbies and Police, who grin at all our larks.
    We don't indulge in foolish tricks, house-bells we never ring.
    But "Up in a Balloon boys, " we don't forget to sing.
    Rolling home, &c.

    Of course when we reach home, my boys, it's difficult to see
    The house number of the house, or even --- where to find the key ;
    And then the morning breaks, we are so queer about the head,
    We wonder how we stagger'd home, and found our way to bed.
    Rolling home &c.

    But here my sorrows do not end, for when I call to see
    The little darling of my heart ---she;s not polite to me ;
    She's heard how I went on last night, it's useless to explain,
    And so I promise --- til next time, I'll not roll home again.
    Rolling home, &c.

    Soon Upon the Billows, Mother, Or, a Soldier's Farewell to his Friends by J.Dundon - Air, 'Before the Battle, Mother"

    Soon upon the billows, mother,
    Of a wide unbounding sea,
    Far away from friends reations,
    Your soldier son shall be.
    Far away from those who loved him,
    Press'd him gently to their heart;
    Oh, sad now 'tis, dear mother
    From home and thee to part.


    Farewell, mother, father, brother,
    Sisters, friends I leave in pain;
    Think of him whom you may never,
    Never more may see again.

    Far cross the seas dear mother,
    Lies the land that I'm going too,
    You've heard of the East Indies,
    And the burning suns there too,
    There, 'neath those suns, dear mother,
    Many brows have a bed (?) with pain,
    And there now for ten long years,
    Must him you loved remain.
    Farewell, &c.

    There my regiment 'fore was station'd,
    There the name of Tigers' got,
    For their bravery in the battles
    Of Afghanistan, and Kelat,
    And at Hindoostan, and Guznee,
    There too, they led the van,
    Bold a tigers, fought there nobly,
    Loyal man to man.
    Farwell, &c.

    But I trust in God, dear mother,
    They no battles may see more,
    Peace long see our gallant tigers,
    They their laurels won of yore;
    Health and bliss, God smile upon them,
    Glory! fortune be their share;
    Oh, let such for me and all, mother,
    Be constant in your prayer.
    Farewell, &c.

    Weep not now, dearest mother,
    Dry those tears, I crave of thee,
    'Tis the fate you know of all,
    Some time to severed be.
    Grieve you not then, dearest mother
    While there's life, bright hopes remain
    Here in this sweet home of beauty,
    Pray we live to meet again.
    Farewell &c.

    Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares. Their function expanded as they became used as a medium to galvanise political debate, hold public meetings and advertise products or cultural events.

    The cheap nature of the broadside and its wide accessibility meant that its intended audience were often literate individuals but from varying social standings. The illiterate may have also had access to this literature as many of the ballads were designed to be read aloud. In 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', Peter Burke notes that the golden age of the broadside ballad, between 1600 and 1700, saw ballads produced at a penny each which was the same price for admission to the theatre.

    The ballads also covered a wide range of subject matter such as witchcraft, epic war battles, murder and maritime themes and events. They were suitably dramatic and often entertaining, but as James Sharpe notes, also in 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', some of them were designed as elaborate cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime.

    The broadside ballads in the museum's collection were issued by a range of London printers and publishers for sale on the streets by hawkers. They convey, often comically, stories about love, death, shipwrecks, convicts and pirates. Each ballad communicates a sense that these stories were designed to be read aloud for all to enjoy, whether it was at the local tavern or a private residence.
    Related People
    Printer: W S Fortey

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