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The Smuggler

[trad.]

The Petrels (Jackie Oates accompanied by Belinda O'Hooley) sang The Smuggler in 2011 on the CD Fresh Handmade Sound: Validation.

Jess Arrowsmith with Nancy Kerr and Pete Smith sang The Smuggler in 2012 on her and Richard Arrowsmith's CD Customs & Exercise. They commented in their liner notes:

There are not many songs about smuggling—one can only presume that sitting in the pub singing “We are three jolly smugglers all in a row” was likely to lead to a visit from the Excise men. However, this song was published in A Sailor's Garland selected and edited by John Masefield (2nd edition 1908 [p. 299]) with suggested “Air: White Cockade” and its origins beyond that are unknown. Jess preferred to put the words to the traditional dance tune Gilderoy. A bit of geography and history—Slapton is a small village just south west of Dartmouth in Devon. To ‘run the tubs’ was to unload the small barrels (tubs) of contrabrand liquor and transport them away from the coast.

Lyrics

The Smuggler in A Sailor's Garland

O my true love's a smuggler and sails upon the sea,
And I would I were a seaman to go along with he;
To go along with he for the satins and the wine,
And run the tubs at Slapton when the stars do shine.

O Hollands is a good drink when the nights are cold,
And Brandy is a good drink for them as grows old,
There is lights in the cliff-top when the boats are home-bound,
And we run the tubs at Slapton when the word goes round.

The King he is a proud man in his grand red coat,
But I do love a smuggler in his little fishing-boat,
For he runs the Mallins lace and he spends his money free,
And I would I were a seaman to go along with he.

The Petrels sing The Smuggler

My love he is a smuggler, he sails upon the sea,
And I long to be a smuggler and sail along with he;
For to sail along with he, for the brandy and the wine,
And to run the tubs at Slapton when the moon do shine.

For the Hollands it is a fine drink for them that feels the cold,
Ah but brandy it is a far better drink for those that are getting old.
There's a light upon the cliff-tops when the boats are homeward bound,
And the guiding light at stack point will bring us safe and sound.

The King he is a fine king in his bright red coat,
Ah but I do love my smuggler in his little fishing-boat.
For he runs the Mallins lace and he spends his money free,
And I long to be a smuggler and sail along with he.

For the Channel it is his kingdom from England down to France,
And he leads his revenue cutters a very merry dance.
And it's when he gets on shore he confounds the excised man
And he leaves his boat safe moored to come to me again.

For to come to me again, for the brandy and the wine,
And to run the tubs at Slapton when the moon do shine,
When the moon do shine.

Jess Arrowsmith sings The Smuggler

My love he is a smuggler, he sails upon the sea,
I wish I was a smuggler for to sail along with he;
For to sail upon the sea, for the brandy and the wine,
And to run the tubs at Slapton when the moon do shine.

For Hollands is a fine drink for them that feel the cold,
And brandy is a better drink for them that’s getting old,
There are lights upon the cliff-top when the boats are homeward bound,
And we run the tubs at Slapton when the word goes round.

The King he is a fine man in his bright red coat,
But I do love my smuggler in his little fishing-boat,
For he runs the Mallins lace and he spends his money free,
And I wish I were a smuggler for to sail along with he.

For the Channel is his kingdom from England down to France,
And he leads the revenue cutters a very merry dance,
And when he comes ashore he confounds the Excise men,
And he leaves his boat safe moored and comes to me again.

Acknowledgements and Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread The Smuggler: 'My love he is a smuggler'.