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(On Board) The Victory

[ Roud 2278 ; Ballad Index Peac484 ; Bodleian Roud 2278 ; trad.]

The Victory, a ballad on the Trafalgar battle and Admiral Nelson's dead, is from John Ashton's Modern Street Ballads, published in 1888. It was in the repertoire of The Halliard at the end of the 1960's. However, they didn't record it until 2005 for their songbook and CD Broadside Songs.

Frankie Armstrong sang The Victory on the Critic Group's 1968 Argo album of English folk songs and broadsides 1780-1830, Waterloo:Peterloo.

Steeleye Span recorded The Victory in 1977 for their tenth album, Storm Force Ten.

Jack Crawford sang The Victory in 2008 on his WildGoose CD Pride of the Season. He commented in his liner notes:

Yet another song that I owe to Nic [Jones]. The text comes from a ballad sheet in the Harding collection at the Bodleian Library that was printed by John Harkness of Preston between 1840 and 1866.

According to Nic, the tune was composed in the “Halliard” days sometime between 1966 and 1967. I adjusted it a little to suit my interpretation of the text and then tweaked the text to suit the modified tune. Hey ho!

James Findlay sang The Victory in 2012 on his Fellside CD Another Day Another Story. He noted:

I came across this first in the book Broadside Songs by The Halliard. The song appealed to me because of its perspective of the Battle of Trafalgar. Not that of a ‘battle glory’ or ‘praise to Nelson’ nor about ‘old Bonaparte’ but that of a common lady lamenting the loss of her lover, a forgotten victim of the war who had been cruelly press ganged into the navy.

Lyrics

The Halliard sing The Victory

Oh I am a youthful lady and my troubles they are great,
My tongue is scarcely able my grievance to relate.
Since I have lost my own true love that was ever dear to me:
He has gone to plough the ocean on board the Victory.

My parents could not endure my love because he was so poor,
Therefore he did not presume to come within the parent's door.
But had he been some noble lord or a man of high degree
They ne'er had sent the lad I love on board the Victory.

Thirteen of that cursed gang did my true love surround,
And one of the pressing crew lay bleeding on the ground.
My love was overpower'd though he fought most manfully
'Til he was obliged to yield and go on the Victory.

At night whilst in my slumbers, I can't find any rest,
Love for my lad so dearly reigns, within my burning breast.
Sometimes I dream I do enjoy my love's sweet company,
And closely locked all in my arms, on board of the Victory.

Here's success unto the Victory and crew of noble fame,
And glory to the noble lord, bold Nelson was his name.
In the Battle of Trafalgar, the Victory cleared the way,
And my love was slain with Nelson upon that very day.

Steeleye Span sing The Victory

I am a youthful lady, my troubles they are great,
My tongue is scarcely able my grievance to relate.
Since I have lost my true love that was ever dear to me:
He's gone to plough the ocean on board the Victory.

And many a pleasant evenings my love and I did meet,
He clasped me round my slender waist and gave me kisses sweet.
I gave to him my hand and heart and he vowed he'd marry me;
But I did not know that my love would join the Victory.

Chorus:
Mourn, England, mourn and complain
For the brave Lord Nelson's men
That died upon the main

My parents could not endure my love because he was so poor,
Therefore he never did presume to come within the door.
But had he been some noble lord or a man of high degree
They'd ne'er have sent the lad I love on board the Victory.

There was thirteen on the press-gang, they did my love surround,
And four of that accursed gang went bleeding to the ground.
My love was overpowered though he fought most manfully
They dragged him through the dark, wet streets towards the Victory.

Chorus

Your ship she lay in harbour
Just ready to set sail,
May Heaven be your guardian, love,
Till you come home from sea.

Just like an angel weeping
On the rock sighs every day,
Awaiting for my own true love
Returning home from sea.

It's not for gold that glitters
Nor silver that will shine,
If I marry to the man I love
I'll be happy in my mind.

Chorus

Here's success unto the Victory and crew of noble fame,
And glory to the captain, bold Nelson was his name.
At the Battle of Trafalgar, the Victory cleared the way,
But my love was slain with Nelson upon that very day.

Chorus

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: The Victory / On Board of the Victory.