Off to Flanders
DESCRIPTION: Will is going, as an officer, to Flanders to fight against the French with King William. He would have Jack join him. Jack chooses to stay at home, reaping and mowing, with his wife rather than "to go a-fighting, What I never took delight in"
EARLIEST DATE: 1693 (Ebsworth)
KEYWORDS: war request rejection farming brother soldier
1688-1697 - War of the League of Augsburg (source: "Nine Years' War" in Wikipedia); for a Flanders reference see 1693 "Battle of Landen" (source: "Battle of Landen" in Wikipedia)
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Williams-Thames, p. 131, "Off to Flanders" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 108)
ADDITIONAL: J Woodfall Ebsworth, The Roxburghe Ballads, (Hertford, 1893 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), Vol. VII [Part 22], pp. 748-749, "The Farmer's Son of Devonshire" (1 text)
Bodleian, Don. b.13(35), "The Farmers Son of Devonshire" ("Well met brother Jack"), J. Deacon (London), 1671-1704
cf. "Mary Live Long" (tune, per Ebsworth and broadside Bodleian Don. b.13(35))
NOTES: The description follows Williams-Thames. The differences from Ebsworth are described below.
The Williams-Thames text seems, at first glance, ("Dear brother, farewell! I am now going to Flanders, Amongst bold commanders") to be a prequel to the Ebsworth text ("Well met, Brother Jack, I have been in Flanders, With valiant Commanders, and am returned"). However, of the 18 text lines in Williams-Thames, only two are not close to lines in Ebsworth. Those two seem a slight, by brother Jack, of King Williams' bravery which is advanced so strongly by brother Will: "He ventured his life and why should not I? At the Royal Crown Inn our army was staying." The effect of both texts is the same: Will tries to convince Jack to join William's forces in Flanders and Jack decides to stay home with his wife and follow the plow.
The Ebsworth text is 63 lines (9 stanzas of 7 lines); Williams-Thames is 18 lines (3 verses of 6 lines, where the sixth line is equivalent to the last two lines of each Ebsworth verse). The differences -- that is, the lines "missing" from Williams-Thames -- begin with Will's statement that the war gives "the son of a farmer" the chance to be a squire or knight "to face the proud foe"; Jack makes fun of William's accent ("But, dear Brother Will, you are a vine vellow"), and asks what what if he, Jack, is killed? Will says that "all that goes are not slain" and that you lose your fear in the heat of battle and "Trophies of honour, In field we may gain"; besides, says Will, "when an army is lead, by a Crown'd Royal head, It baffles all fear"; Jack concludes that he would fight also if he were to be King, but "Till then ... leave me alone ... a fig for that honour, Which brings broken bones."
Ebsworth's description of the Roxburghe text and woodcuts conform to broadside Bodleian Don. b.13(35)). They seem like duplicates to me. - BS
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