Highside Longsword - Captain's Song

The version of the Captain's song that Highside Longsword use is taken from Cecil Sharp's book Sword Dance Tunes (Book1) published in 1911 by Novello as follows.

i.	You noble spectators wherever you be,
Your attention I beg and I crave,
It's all my desire you make a big room,
And abundance of pastime you'll have

ii.	I am the second Sampson, in Judges you'll find,
Who delights in his darling so dear;
What a blockhead was I for to tell her my mind,
So gallant and quick you shall hear.

iii.	Here comes the man who laid hands upon me,
By him I was grieved to the heart;
As I laid asleep on my dear darling's knee,
0 the barber was playing his part.

iv.	The second's his brother, you might think they were twins,
I thought by the world they would fight;
When these two Philistians seized on me
You'd have thought they'd have ruined me quite.

v.	The third is a man of so much milder blood,
Some pity there's lodged in his breast;
He oftentimes threatened to do me some good,
But he dursn't for fear of the rest.

vi.	The fourth he comes on like a ranting young lad,
He's like to some majestial stands;
It was he that gave orders that I should be polled,
So they fettered my feet and my hands.

vii.	The fifth is as cruel as cruel can be,
The others and him did revise;
It was he that gave orders that I should no more see,
So they instantly bored out my eyes.

viii.	The sixth is no better at all than the rest,
He was the first breeder of strife;
If any of you there had been in my place,

You'd been glad to com'd off with your life.

ix.	These are the six lads that laid hands on me
Without the consent of my dear;
But I will come even with them by and bye.
And so gallant and quick you shall hear.

x.	When they were all merry carousing with wine
The first one for Sampson did call;
He pulled down the house and slew all at that time,
So there was an end of them all.

Then we all sing :-

These here six actors bold ne're come on't stage before
But they have done there best
And the best can do no more

You've seen them all go round
Think of ‘em what you will
Music! Strike up and play
T'aud lass of Dallowgill

Having read Ivor Alsop's book Longsword Dances published in 1996 by The Book Press ISBN 0-9627554-7-8 we realised that there are many versions of the above song. Thanks to Chas Marshall for showing me English County Songs by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland published by J.B. Cramer & Co. Ltd (no date) with the following :-

1 You noble spectators, wherever you be,
Your attention I beg and I crave:
For all my desire is to make us large room,
And abundance of pastime we'll have.

2 I am the second Samson, in Judges you'll find,
Who delights in his darling so dear;
What a blockhead was I for to tell her my mind,
And so gallant and quick you shall hear.

3 The first he comes on like a ranting young lad (Bowing to the first of the six dancers
He conquers wherever he goes;
He's scarned by his enemies to be controlled.
And his name it is King William Raw.

4 The next is his brother, you might think they were twins, (No 1 bows to No. 2
I thought by the world they would fight;
When these two Philistians seized on me,
You'd ha' thought they had ruined me quite.

5 The third is a man of some more milder blood, (No. 2 bows to No.3.
Some pity there's lodged in his breast;
He oftentimes threatened to do me some good,
But be doesn't (qy. durstn't ?) for fear of the rest.

6 The fourt' he comes on like a ranting young lad, (No. 3 bows to No. 4.
He's like some great gestical stand;
It was he that gave orders that I should be polled.
So they fettered my feet and my hands.

7 The fift' is as cruel as cruel can be, (No. 4 bows to No. 3
The others and him did revise (qv. advise?)
It was he that gave orders I should no more see,
So they instantly bored out my eyes.

8 The sixt' is no better at all than the rest, (No. 5 bows to No. 6.
He was the first breeder of strife;
If any of you then had been in my place,
You'd ha' been glad to com'd off with your life.

9 These are the six lords that first ruined me,
Without the consent of my dear;
But I will come even with them by-and-bye
So gallant and quick you shall hear.

10 When they were all merry carousing with wine,
When first down for Samson did call;
He pulled down the house, slew all at that time,
So there was an end of 'em all

[After singing the above, the Clown takes the dancers out one by one, to form the
dancing party, and then sings the following Prologue to the Dance itself.]

These are six actors bold,
Never came on stage before;
And they will do their best,
And the best can do no more.

You've seen them all go round,
Think on 'em what you will;
Music strike up and play
"T' aud lass fra Dallowgill"

(Words and tune from H. M. Bower. Esq.)


The tune generally played for the dance was "My love she's but a lassie yet", but the tune of the Prologue has so much of the Morris Dance character that it very possibly served to dance to. The instruments are two fiddles and a small drum: the musicians and Clown are dressed in. blue calico jackets with red braid and a pink sash or hem, white calico trousers with red stripe, and a pink cap; the dancers wear pink jackets with blue braid and sash, white trousers with red stripe, and a blue cap. This was a traditional performance by the old inhabitants of Kirby Malzeard, near Ripon. Mr. Bower says: "Taken down by me from old Thomas Wood, of Kirby Malzeard who sings and repeats it. But he will have nothing to do with the present Christmas sword dancers, or "Moower", who, he says, 'have never had the full of it, and don't dress properly, nor do it in any form, being a bad, idle company; but were originally taught by him to make up his numbers at the Ripon Millenary Festival.'"
Mr. Bower sends another version of the words, from Skelton. near Ripon. with some characteristic differences of text. The scheme is the same, and from he phrase "I am the second Samson it would seem that this song is only a part of a larger play in which the seven worthies took part. In the Skelton version the first verse is omitted, but there is a second verse as follows


"A foxtail, a foxtail is not on my back to be seen;
Although I go ragged and wear a fool's cap
Who knows but I am loved by the Queen."

The stanza is obviously corrupt, but it may have contained a reference to the exploit related in judges xv. Verse 3, which is without meaning in the version given above, runs -

"Here comes the first lad that laid hands upon me,
Although I was grieved to the heart;
As I sat asleep on my dear darling's knee
The barber was playing his part."

In verse 6 occurs the more reasonable "bound" for "polled". The swollen last line of verse 8 is given as -

"You would have been matched to come off with your life."

Verse 9 is omitted, and the first two lines of verse to run thus -

"As they were a carousing so merry with wine,
So loud out for Samson did call;"

and the Prologue to the Dance is in a different metre from that given above, as follows -

"Come Fiddlers, be your strings advancing,
When you hear rue sweetly sing
Pretty lads come fall a-dancing
When you bear the fiddle-string."

This version was written down by ]ohn Fawcett, farm foreman in the service of Captain Hincks, at Breconboro', near Thirsk.
Formerly the dresses were adorned with many ribbons, as were also the head-dresses. which were like tall hats with cockades or plumes.

Highside Longsword