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Broadsheet ballads titled 'The Rakish Young Fellow' and "Sons of Mars'.

Date: 1813 - 1838
Overall: 252 x 190 mm, 0.03 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017392
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Broadsheet ballads titled 'The Rakish Young Fellow' and "Sons of Mars'.
    Printed by James Catnach, 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 Rakish Young Fellow.

    I once was a rakish young fellow,
    I never took care of my life,
    I have sailed the ocean all over,
    In every port a fresh wife.
    But now I'm returned from the ocean,
    And landed quite safe on the shore,
    It's heaven bless me now and for ever,
    If I go to sea any more.

    I have sailed through stormy weather,
    I have travell'd thro' hot and thro' cold,
    ventured my life on the ocean,
    I have ventured it all for gold.
    But now I'm returned, &c.

    I will send for my friends and relations,
    I will send for them every one,
    And all for to make them quite welcome,
    I will send for a cask of good rum.
    send for a cask of good rum, boys,
    And two or three barrels of beer,
    is done for to make them all welcome,
    To meet me at Derry-down fair.

    And when that I am dead and I'm buried,
    So there is an end to my life,
    will never go sighing nor sobbing,
    But I will do a good turn for my wife,
    Lot there be no sighing or sobbing,
    But one single favour I crave,
    sop me up in my tarpaulin jacket,
    And fiddle and dance to my grave.

    Let six jolly fellows all carry me,
    And let them be terrible drunk,
    And as they are going along with me,
    Let them fall down with my trunk.
    There shall be such laughing and joking,
    Like so many men going mad,
    They shall take a glass over my coffin,
    Saying the jolly young lad.


    YE bold sons of Mars that travel in the wars,
    And subject to many commanders,
    Who fought at the Nile the siege of Bellisle,
    And where cannons did rattle in Flanders
    'Tis a far better life tahn be tied to a wife,
    What signifies all your alarms
    But you may pity me, I've had a long spree
    And ne'er had a cessation of arms.


    Being foolish and young and quite in the wrong,
    The temper of women has wore me,
    The world it may wag, for I've got the bag,
    And thousands have got it before me.

    Being foolish and young I took my own will,
    And wisdom to me was a stranger,
    I began for to court, and married for sport
    But was not aware of the danger.
    And to send my sad woe I match'd with a doe,
    And she early began with her brawling,
    These twenty long years she's rung in my ears,
    Besides giving me many a mawling.

    Hard living and din they make me look thin,
    My garments are still out of order,
    My wife does me chide and wallops my hide
    And often times makes me cry 'Murder!'
    I oft heard it spoke there's virtue in oak,
    I try'd it -- and found it all folly,
    She beat me so sore I was forc'd to give o'er
    And never more lift a shillelah.

    We'll sheath every sword and end the discord,
    And will reconcile every nation,
    If my wife she should die I never would cry
    For fretting is all botheration.
    Was I ag'd 17, and a match for the queen,
    With the richest tha twere in Jerusalem,
    The d--- I should ever catch me
    If I liv'd to the age of Methusalem.

    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.

    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.

    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 occasionally they 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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