Faithless Sally Brown

Original Text: 
The London Magazine (London, 1820). AP L66 MKR mfm Robarts Library
1Young Ben he was a nice young man,
2     A carpenter by trade;
3And he fell in love with Sally Brown,
4     That was a lady's maid.
5But as they fetch'd a walk one day,
6     They met a press-gang crew;
7And Sally she did faint away,
8     Whilst Ben he was brought to.
9The Boatswain swore with wicked words,
10     Enough to shock a saint,
11That though she did seem in a fit,
12     'Twas nothing but a feint.
13"Come, girl," said he, "hold up your head,
14     He'll be as good as me;
15For when your swain is in our boat,
16     A boatswain he will be."
17So when they'd made their game of her,
19She roused, and found she only was
20     A coming to herself.
21"And is he gone, and is he gone?"
22     She cried, and wept outright:
23"Then I will to the water side,
24     And see him out of sight."
25A waterman came up to her,--
26     "Now, young woman," said he,
27"If you weep on so, you will make
28     Eye-water in the sea."
29"Alas! they've taken my beau Ben
30     To sail with old Benbow;"
31And her woe began to run afresh,
32     As if she'd said Gee woe!
33Says he, "They've only taken him
34     To the Tender ship, you see";
35"The Tender-ship," cried Sally Brown
36     "What a hard-ship that must be!"
37"O! would I were a mermaid now,
38     For then I'd follow him;
39But Oh!--I'm not a fish-woman,
40     And so I cannot swim.
41"Alas! I was not born beneath
42     The virgin and the scales,
43So I must curse my cruel stars,
44     And walk about in Wales."
45Now Ben had sail'd to many a place
46     That's underneath the world;
47But in two years the ship came home,
48     And all her sails were furl'd.
49But when he call'd on Sally Brown,
50     To see how she went on,
51He found she'd got another Ben,
52     Whose Christian-name was John.
53"O Sally Brown, O Sally Brown,
54     How could you serve me so?
55I've met with many a breeze before,
56     But never such a blow":
57Then reading on his 'bacco box
58     He heaved a bitter sigh,
59And then began to eye his pipe,
61And then he tried to sing "All's Well,"
62     But could not though he tried;
63His head was turn'd, and so he chew'd
64     His pigtail till he died.
65His death, which happen'd in his berth,
66     At forty-odd befell:
67They went and told the sexton, and
68     The sexton toll'd the bell.


18] taken off her elf: one "taken" by elves is said to be bewitched, but Sally only pretends a fainting spell, and so it is easy enough to remove her "elf." Back to Line
60] pipe his eye: to weep. To this line in the magazine was given this footnote: "Catullus has imitated this, `Ad dominam solan usque pipiabat.'--Printer's Devil." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP.2.329; RPO 1996-2000.