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Broadsheet featuring the ballads 'When the sails are Furl'd', 'The Ivy Green' and 'Quite Politely'.

Date: 1846 - 1854
Overall: 250 x 190 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017403
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring three ballads titled "The Ivy Green", "When the Sails are Furl'd" and "Quite Politely".
    Printed by E.Hodges, from PITT'S Toy and Marble warehouse, 31, Monmouth Street, 7 Dials.
    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 IVY GREEN

    AH! a dainty plant is the ivy green,
    That creepeth on ruins old;
    Of right choice food are is meals,
    I mean in his cell so lonely and cold,
    The walls must be crumbled, the stone decay'd,
    To please his dainty whim;
    And the mouldering us that years have made,
    Is a merry meal for him.
    Creeping where no life is seen,
    A rare old plant is the ivy green.

    Fast he stealeth on, though he waers no wings,
    And a staunch old head had he,
    How closely he twineth, how tight he clings,
    To his friend ----- the huge oak tree,
    And slyly he traileth along the ground,
    And his leaves he gently waves,
    As he joyously hugs; and crawls around
    The rich mould of dead men's graves.
    Creeping where grim death hath been,
    A rare old plant is the ivy green.

    Whole ages have fled and works decay'd,
    And nations have scatter'd been,
    But the stout old ivy shall never fade,
    From its hale and hearty green,
    The brave old plant in its lonely days,
    Shall fatten on the past,
    For the stateliest building man can raise,
    Is the ivy's food a last.


    WHEN first in Lunnun I arrived, on a visit, on a visit,
    When first in Lunnun I arrived, 'midst heavy rain and thunder,
    There I espied a lass in green,
    The bonniest lass that e'er was seen, I'd often heard of beauty's queen,
    Thinks I by gum, i've found her;
    Tol de rol, &c.

    She stood stock still, I did the same, we both looked mighty simple,
    Her cheeks were like a blushing rose,
    Which on the hedge neglcted blows,
    Her eyes were black as any sloes,
    And night her mouth a dimple.
    Tol de rol, &c.

    Madam, says I, and made a bow, scraping to her, scraping to her,
    Madam says I, and made a bow, I quite forgot the weather,
    If you will me permission give,
    I'll see you home where'e you live;
    With that she took me by the sleeve,
    And off we trudged together.

    A pretty wild goose chase we had, up and down sir, in and out, sir,
    A pretty wild goose chase we had, the cobbled stones so galled me;
    Whereon we came unto a door;
    Where twenty lasses, aye, or more,
    Came out to have a bit galore,
    A bumpkin as they called me.
    Walk in kind sir, she says to me -- poor lad they cry'd he is undone
    Walk in kind sir; --- not so, says I,
    For I have other fish to fry,
    I've seen you home, so now goodbye,
    Iz'e Yorkshire, though in Lunnun.

    My pockets soon I rumaged o'er, cautious ever, cautious ever,
    My pockets soon I rumaged o'er and found a diamond ring there,
    For I had this precaution took,
    To stick in each a small fish hook,
    In groping for my pocket book,
    The bauble slipped her finger.

    Three weeks I've been in Lunnun town, living idle, living idle,
    Three weeks I've been in Lunnun town, 'tis time to go to work sure,
    I sold the ring, and got the brass,
    Don't think I've played the silly ass,
    'Twill do to feast the Lunnun lass,
    When I get back to Yorkshire. / Tol de rol, &c.


    When the sails are furl'd and the watch set,
    And the moon shines on the distant deep,
    When handsmen o'er their cups are met,
    Or wrapt in the lazy arms of sleep!
    The faithful tar, disdaining rest,
    Consigns to every passing wind,
    A gallant sigh from his manly breast,
    For the lass he left behind.

    While the level deck his feet pace,
    Admidst the silv'ry clouds so high,
    He views his Emma's sweet face, /
    Like an angel's beaming from the sky,
    Her fancied voice, too, greets his ear,
    Soft floating on the wind,
    Again he breathes a sailor's prayer
    For the lass he left behind.

    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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