There Was A Lady In The East
(Kenneth Peacock) Her Sweetheart

There was a lady in the east
about the age of twenty,
For sweethearts she had of the best,
all lords and squires plenty;
For sweethearts she had of the best,
who dearly doted on her,
She did adore her father's clerk
more than those lords and honour.

As she was walking in the hall
her father chanced to meet her,
"Why did you throw yourself away,
you silly fond young creature?
Oh, wilt thou marry a servant slave
without either birth or breeding?
Not one pound portion shalt thou have
if this be your proceeding."

Down on her knees she fell, saying,
"Father, use your pleasure,
I do adore my Jimmy dear
more than the lords and treasure;
I do adore my Jimmy dear
and for him I am intended,
And if the world will favour me,
with him I'll live contented."

There was a table in the hall
with a fowling piece laid on it,
And through her snowy milk-white breast
her father did present it;
It was through her snowy milk-white breast,
as she lay down before him,
And the very last words that ever she spoke:
"I must and I will adore him."

Now when her father came to know
the sin that he had committed,
He wrung his hands and he tore his hair
and almost went distracted;
But when her mother came to see
her daughter's corpse a-viewing,
The fainting fits came on so quick
soon proved her mother's ruing.

Oh, in came Jimmy amongst the rest
with his two hands a-wringing,
He kissed the blooming of her breast
right where the blood was swelling.
"Why did you serve my darling so,
or why was you so cruel?
Why hadn't you laid the blame on me
and spared to me my jewel?

He took the pen-knife in his hand
saying, "Here I'll stay no longer,
I'll cut the single thread of life
and with my love I'll wander."
They both were buried in one grave,
like two true lovers loyal.
May the Lord above look down on us
and send us no such trial.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Cruel Father, And Constant Lover, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1802 and 1819, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 25(451) ....####

Collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Charlotte Decker [1884-1967] of Parson's Pond, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.726-728, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that Newfoundland and Nova Scotia seem to be the principal areas where this ballad has survived. Helen Creighton [1899-1989] noted it as Willie and Young Sailor Bold in Songs And Ballads From Nova Scotia (Dent, 1933; Dover, 1966). Although the story is the same in both provinces, the texts and tunes are completely different.

A variant was collected in 1951 from Mrs Thomas (Anastasia Ryan) Ghaney [1883-1959] of Fermeuse, NL, and published as Her Sweetheart in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

From Wikipedia: Fowling Piece - portable firearm for the shooting of birds.


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