Skip to main content

Soldiers & sailors

Jack tar, or the green bed empty

(32) Jack tar, or the green bed empty

[NLS note: a graphic appears here - see image of page]

                        JACK TAR,


                      THE GREEN BED EMPTY.

Come listen awhile and I'll tell you a story concerning of one
Its of a brisk young sailor, I think his name is John ;
He had been a pleasant voyage and is safe returned to shore
All ragged, all ragged and bare like one that is poor.

He went to an alehouse where he used to resort,
He went to an alehouse and called for a quart,
You are weleome home, dear Johnny lad, said she,
Last night my daughter Molly lay dreaming of thee.

What sort of a voyage had you ? pray tell to me,
What sort of a voyage had you ? pray tell to me ;
A very bad voyage indeed, for our ship and cargo was lost,
And in the wide ocean my portion was cast.

The night drawing on, Johnny hung down his head,
He then called for a candle to light him to bed ;
Our beds are all full, John, and has been for this week,
So now for fresh lodgings I would have you go seek.

What is the money, said he, that I to you do owe ?
Or what is the money that makes you so bold ;
Five-and-forty shillings, John, you owed me of old ;
With that he pulled out his two hands full of gold !

The sight of the gold made the old bawd to rue,
The sight of the gold made the old bawd to rue,
Saying, stop my dearest Johnny lad, what makes you in such
haste ?
Dear Johnny, if you were in earnest, I was but in jest.

I will fetch my daughter Polly, and I'll place her on thy knee,
She shall comfort thy poor heart, and married you shall be :
Down came her daughter Polly dress'd all in her best,—
Of all the young sailors young Johnny I love the best.

She kiss'd him, she cuddl'd him, she call'd him her dear,
Saying, the green bed is empty, and we may lie there.

Before I would lie in your house, I would lie out of door,
Before I would lie in your bed, I would lie on the floor ;
For if I had no money, out door I should be turn'd,
So you and your old mother deserve both to be burn'd.

Come all you jovial sailors that plough the raging main,
That gather all your money in the cold stormy rain ;
Its when you get your money, lads, lay it up in store,
For its a noble companion when you're turn'd out of door.

                   THE BUTCHER

                                             AND THE

                         TAILOR'S WIFE.

There was a wealthy tailor,
In London town did dwell,
He had a handsome wife,
And her name was Mary Bell ;
She's gone to the market,
A joint of meat to buy:
What is your will, dear Madam ?
The butcher did reply.

This joint of meat was straightway cut down,
Refuse it she did not,
Straightway she fetch'd it home,
And put it in the pot ;
But when the tailor he came home,
She told him what she had,
When the poor tailor leap'd for joy,
And his heart was very glad.

Dear husband, O dear husband,
I'll tell you how it must be,
To morrow night the butcher
He is to lie with me :
Take your broad sword in your hand,
And under the bed go,
The first man that enters then,
Be sure to run him through.

I never handled sword or gun,
My dear, my loving wife,
The butchers they are bloody dogs :
I'm afraid he'll have my life.
Do not you be faint hearted,
But with courage stout and bold,
And if the butcher you o'ercome,
You'll wear a chain of gold.

The butcher thinking it was time
To see the tailor's wife,
And fearing they should form a plot
Or trick to take his life.
He got a brace of pistols loaded
With powder and with ball,
The first man that molests me now,
By Jove ! I'll make him fall !

When the butcher he came in,
She took him by the hand,
And led him to her bed chamber ;
Sir, I'm at your command,
He pull'd out his brace of pistols,
And laid them on the bed,
The poor tailor struck with fear,
He lay as if quite dead.

As he was taking off his clothes,
And going into bed ;
How was he struck when he did spy
One of the tailor's legs,
Is this your husband's dog ? he says,
I'll shoot him for the fright !
O spare my life, the tailor cries,
And you shall have my wife.


Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence