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Braodsheet featuring the ballads 'The Sailor-Boy's farewell to his Mother' and 'The Moon is on the Waters'.

Date: 1790-1870
Overall: 248 x 185 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017375
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring two ballads titled 'The Sailor-Boy's farewell to his Mother' and 'The Moon is on the Waters'. The Sailor-Boy's farewell is to be sung to the tune "Woodman, spare that Tree".
    The sheet is published by James Paul & Co, Seven Dials, London.
    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.
    HistoryThe Sailor-Boy's Farewell to his Mother. / (Tune - Woodman, spare that tree.)'

    Sweet mother dear, I go
    Far o'er the distant sea ;
    But let me gladly know
    A blessing fond from thee.
    'Tis fate that makes us poor,
    Calls forth a parting sigh,
    And drives me from thy door :
    My mother dear, good bye!

    And when in distant lands
    I make my exiled prayer,
    And raise my folded hands
    To him who'll guide me there,
    I'll crave for thee each joy, And he will hear me cry ;
    Then, smiling kiss thy boy :
    My mother dear, good bye!

    That poor but pretty cot,
    On which the sun now gleams,
    Shall never be forgot.
    "Twill mingle with my dreams :
    And when from distant climes
    Thy truant boy draws nigh,
    We will bless the happy times
    My mother dear, good bye!

    That dear and lonely form,
    Thy cherished voice, so kind,
    Will cheer me in the storm,
    Amid the howling wind.
    I dare not now remain,
    But time will quickly fly,
    And we shall meet again :
    My mother dear, good bye.

    The Moon Is on the Waters.

    When the moon is on the water,
    I will hasten love to thee,
    Of all earth's fairest daughters,
    Thou dearest art to me.

    Tho' rude winds may ruffle the ocean,
    Still my bark shall tempt the sea,
    And in the strains of pure devotion,
    I will sing, love, songs to thee.

    When my star of hope was waning
    There was one, but one heart true,
    And which shared without complaining,
    All the charms my bosom knew.

    It was thine my charming Mary,
    Thou wert all the world to me,
    And however fortune vary,
    I will still be true to thee.

    Thou wert true to me in childhood,
    When the rose bud on its tree,
    As it blossom'd in the wildwood,
    Was an emblem, love, of thee.

    In thy youth thou wert still dearer,
    With the dawn of reason came,
    Thoughts that brought thee to me nearer,
    Tho' they bore nor yet love's name.

    But thy womanhood unfolding,
    Won the secret from my heart,
    And my life was in thy holding,
    For 'twas death from thee to part.

    I have loved thee, gentle Mary,
    I have loved thee through the past,
    And however fortune vary,
    I will love thee to the last.

    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.
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