Ballad of William Bloat, The
DESCRIPTION: William Bloat's wife "got his goat" so he cuts her throat. "To finish the fun so well begun He resolved himself to kill." He hangs himself with a sheet. He dies but she survives: "for the razor blade was German made But the sheet was Belfast linen"
AUTHOR: Raymond Calvert (1830-1883) (source: Hammond-Belfast)
EARLIEST DATE: 1978 (Hammond-Belfast)
KEYWORDS: marriage homicide suicide humorous wife shrewishness
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Hammond-Belfast, p. 59, "The Ballad of William Bloat" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [193 words]: When this song was first indexed, we followed the lead of Hammond in saying that the author, Raymond Calvert, lived 1830-1883. This led me to much speculation about why the song picked on Germans at a time when Germany was just becoming united and had not yet become an obvious threat. (Indeed, the Clancy Brothers made the [ineffective] razor English rather than German, and the [effective]).
His daughter-in-law Sue Calvert explained that our dates for Calvert were wrong: "He was my father-in-law, born Oct 1906 at Banchory House, died July 1959. Bloat was written in 1926." Thus the song indeed comes from a period after Germany's rise to power.
I was reminded a bit of this controversy in reading a story about George III, found on page 17 of James Dugan's The Great Mutiny (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1965): "Although he had never visited Germany, as the Elector of Hannover-Braunschweig George believed that everything German was superior to everything British, including discipline and underwear. He wore only German linen, unaware that one suit had been forged in Dublin as a secret joke on a monarch otherwise difficult to link to anything humorous." - RBW
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