She Was Poor But She Was Honest (I)
DESCRIPTION: A mock lament in which the village maid seduced goes to London to become a prostitute. While her customers prosper, she becomes a pox-ridden streetwalker burdened with piles. The moral: the rich takes their pleasures while the poor get the blame.
EARLIEST DATE: 1923
KEYWORDS: bawdy humorous sex children poverty hardtimes disease
FOUND IN: Australia Canada Britain(England) US(SW)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Cray, pp. 128-132, "She Was Poor But She Was Honest I" (3 texts, 1 tune)
PBB 108, "She Was Poor, But She Was Honest" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 200-201, "It's The Syme the Whole World Over" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHJohnson, pp. 15-16, "She Was Poor But She Was Honest" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 27, "It's The Syme The Whole World Over" (1 text)
Shay-Barroom, pp. 56-58, "It's the Sime the 'Ole World Over" (2 texts, 1 tune; the first a fairly normal version, the second an adaption in which Joe Johnson murders Sally Carter)
ADDITIONAL: Aline Waites & Robin Hunter, _The Illustrated Victorian Songbook_, Michael Joseph Ltd., 1984, pp. 62-63, "She Was Poor But She Was Honest" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "She Was Poor But She Was Honest (II)" (tune & meter)
cf. "It's the Sime the 'Ole World Over (II)" (tune)
NOTES [126 words]: The Sandburg text is described as "fortified in part by H.L Mencken and a contributor to The American Mercury."
Waites & Hunter say, "This is probably one of the most successful anonymous songs in the world. The tune repeats throughout the verses and the chorus, and is therefore exceptionally easy to pick up."
Jon Roche points out to me that Maurice Disher wrote (on p. 46 of "Victorian Song") that he first heard an "unprintable" song with the "She was poor but she was honest" line before any of the collections cited here. "My memories of it belong to the Grey Brigade of London volunteers after the South African War." But I can't use that as a date, partly because Disher is imprecise as to date and partly because I can't prove it's the same song. - RBW
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