The Black Devil (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: The Black Cook (Roberts and Barrand)

A story I'll tell you, it happened last evening,
Of an eminent doctor that lived in Cork town,
Three jolly Jack tars that have been out lating,
And fifty bright guineas he had to lay down.
Three jolly jack tars and
their mess-mates, being groggy,
Their money all out, and their credit far run,
From Patrick Street to the quay down they rambled,
They was bent to procure it, their money for fun.

The cook of the ship, bein' one of the party,
A smart lad he was and his color was black,
With wit and contrivements he always was ready,
And soon found a way to rise cash in a crack.
Said he to his mess-mates, "I heard people talking,
A corpse could be sold very readily here,
So take me alive, wrap me up in me hammock,
And sell me to buy either whiskey or beer."

The sailors agreed and accepted the offer,
Away to the house where the doctor did dwell;
And into his ears they boldly did whisper,
Saying, "Doctor, we have got a corpse here to sell."
"A corpse?" said the doctor, like a man in amazement,
"Oh, where did you get it? Come tell me, I pray.
If you'll bring it here I will buy it quite ready,
And fifty bright guineas to ye I will pay."

The sailors agreed and accepted the offer,
Away to the ship, oh, they quickly did retire;
Come listen a while and pay great attention,
I'll soon tell you what they was going to do there.
They wrapped the poor black, tied up in his hammock,
A smart lad he was, oh, most sturdy and strong,
And in under his waistcoat by way of protection,
A knife with a blade about half a yard long.

Twelve o'clock being cried out
in the streets they were lonesome,
The sailors started off with the black to their back;
And into the house they boldly did venture,
And in the back room they concealed the poor black.
The doctor he paid the bold seamen their money,
They told him their cook he had died on the sea,
"And rather than have his dead body to bury,
We've sold him to you and he's out of our way."

The doctor he got his knives to dissect him,
He come downstairs with the tools in his hand,
He opened the door and boldly did venture,
The black stood before him with his cutlass in hand.
He opened the door and boldly did venture,
A-thinking the corpse was in very rich prime;
With a voice loud as thunder
the black he approached him,
Saying, "Damn your eyes, doctor,
I'll dissect you alive!"

The doctor he run like a man that was frightened,
Straight up to the room where his wife she did lay,
Saying, "Wife, oh dear wife,
it's where will you hide me,
Oh, for the black devil he is in the back room."
His wife she got out to bar fast the doors,
She barred it so tight that he couldn't get in,
Saying, "Husband, dear husband,
do leave off dissecting,
For fear the black devil he might come again."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, The Black Cook or The Doctor Outwitted published by James Lindsay (Glasgow) sometime between 1851 and 1910, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: 2806 c.14(57) ....####
Collected in 1958 from Isaac Freeman Bennett [1896-1984] of St Paul's, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3 , pp.856-8, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A similar variant was sung in 1951 by Richard T Pennel [b.1883] of Trepassey, NL, and published as The Black in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was a favorite song by Michael John Pittman [1920-2004] of Merasheen, NL, and published as The Black for the 1980 Merasheen Reunion in Placentia Bay, NL, by Loyola Pomroy and William (Bill) Wilson Jr [1931-1993] of Meerasheen, Placentia Bay, NL.

A variant was also recorded in 1973 by John Roberts and Tony Barrand as The Black Cook (Across The Western Ocean: Songs From The Era Of The North Atlantic Sailing Packets, Swallowtail Records, ST-03, Cassette 1994, CD 2000).

Kenneth Peacock noted that this comic sailor's ballad is not often collected; it is fortunate, therefore, to have a Newfoundland variant in such good condition.


Index Page
GEST Songs Of
Newfoundland And Labrador


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Confirm Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Here