The Green Bushes (Greenleaf and Mansfield)

As I was a-walking for pleasure one day,
For sweet recreation one evening in May;
I spied a fair damsel and sweeter sang she,
"Down by the green bushes
where he thinks he'll meet me."

O, I stepped up to her and this did I say:
"How far do you wander going this way?"
"I am waiting for my true love,"
this damsel did cry,
"Down by the green bushes
where he thinks he'll meet me."

"I'll buy you a nice beaver, a nice silky gown,
Buy you a nice underskirt
right down to the ground,
If you will prove loyal and constant to me,
Forsake your own true love and marry to me."

"O, I don't want your beaver
nor none of your clothes,
For I never was so poor as to marry for those;
But if you'll prove loyal and constant to me,
I'll forsake my own true love and marry to thee."

"O, come let us be going from under those trees,
Come let us be going, kind sir, if you please;
For yonder my true love he is waiting for me,
"Down by the green bushes
where he thinks he'll meet me."

So when he returned there, he found she was gone,
He stood like a poor lamb that's lost and foregone;
"She's away with some other and forsaking me!
Here's adieu ye green bushes forever," said he.

"I'm like a poor schoolboy, we spend time in play,
And ever was so foolish to be led astray;
So now, you false woman,
you will scorn me no more,
Here's adieu, you green bushes,
it is time to look o'er."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a British broadside ballad, The False Lover, [Laws P2] American Balladry from British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, The False Lover, published without a publisher's name, dated by hand 1827, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Firth c.18(145) ....####
This variant collected in 1929 from Agatha Walsh of Fleur de Lys, NL, by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield as #30 on pp.67-68 of Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

A variant was also collected by Maud Karpeles [1885-1976] and published as #84, Green Bushes, in Folk Songs From Newfoundland (Faber & Faber, London, 1971; also Oxford, 1934)

From 27 January 1845 to 10 May 1845 and from 11 February 1847 to 10 March 1847, the character Nelly O'Neil sang verse two in Act I, and verse two and three in Act III in the 1845 dramatic play, Green Bushes, which was written for London's Adelphi Theatre by the theatre's resident dramatist, John Baldwin Buckstone [1802-1879] English actor, playwright and comedian from Hoxton, London, UK. Owing to the popularity of the drama, the ballad was published soon after as a "popular Irish ballad sung by Mrs FitzWilliam, in the drama of Green Bushes."

The character Nelly O'Neil was played by Frances "Fanny" Elizabeth Fitzwilliam (née Copeland) [1801-1854]. She was the actress daughter of Robert Copeland, manager of the Dover theatrical circuit. As "Miss Copeland" she made her name at the Surrey Theatre with Thomas John Dibdin. After marrying the actor Edward Fitzwilliam she performed as "Mrs Fitzwilliam", becoming a leading London actress and theatre manager. For many years she was closely associated with John Baldwin Buckstone who, after the death of her husband, was due to marry in 1854. She died of cholera at Richmond Lodge, Putney, a month before her planned wedding to Buckstone.


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