MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada

The Flying Cloud

Performed by Alexander March Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 15 Track 5
Community: Port au Port Audio: Yes
Genre: Ballad / pirate ship Laws K28

Transcription

Come all you rambling sailor boys come listen to me
I'm heavy bound in irons strong to die for piracy
With eighteen more I am condemned in sorrow to complain
For plundering and burning ships down on the Spanish Main

When I was young and innocent my heart it knew no guile
In happy home I lived content my parents on me smiled
But drinking and bad company has made a wreck of me
Take warning all, by my downfall and beware of piracy

My name is Edward Anderson as you might understand
I belongs to the town of Waterford in Erin 's lovely land
My parents raised me tenderly in the fear of God likewise
Twas little I thought I would die in scorn 'neath Cuba 's sunny skies

My father bound me to a trade in Waterford 's fair town
He bound me to a cooper whose name was William Brown
I served my master faithfully for eighteen months or more
Then I shipped on board of the Ocean Queen bound to Valparaiso 's shore

It happened in Valparaiso I fell in with Captain Moore
He commanded the clipper Flying Cloud sailing out of Baltimore
I hired out for to sail with him on a slavery voyage to go
To the bonny shores of Africay where the sugar cane do grow

We soon tossed over those raging seas and landed safe on shore
Five hundred of those poor souls from their country homes we tore
We dragged their bodies to our decks and stowed them well below
And eighteen inches to a man was all we had to stow

We then weighed anchor and went to sea our cargo all of slaves
It had been better for those poor souls they had gone to their graves
The plague fever came on board swept half of them away
We dragged their bodies to our deck and threw them in the sea

It being a short time after that we reached the Arabian Shore
We sold them to a planter they were slaves forevermore
To toil in the rice and sugar fields beneath the burning sun
To drag away their wretched lives till their career was run

It's when our money was all spent we went on board again
And Captain Moore called us on deck and said to us his men
"There's gold and plenty to be had all for thee on the main
And if you'll agree my bully crew I'll tell you how it's gained

"We have as fast a sailing ship as ever skimmed the seas
Or as ever set a maintop sail before a heavy breeze
And if you'll agree my bully crew and with me do remain
We'll run aloft a pirate flag and scour the Spanish Main."

We all agreed but five bold youth who told us then to land
Two of them were Boston men and two from Newfoundland
The other being an Irishman belonging to Tramore
How I wish I had joined those men and landed safe on shore

The Flying Cloud was a clipper barque five hundred tons or more
She could easily sail around any ship sailing out of Baltimore
I've often seen that goodly ship with the wind abaft the beam
With her oil and stern sails set aloft taking sixteen from the reel

Her sails were white as the driven snow on them there wasn't a speck
Seventy-five brass-mounted guns she carried on her deck
With iron chests and magazines stored safely down below
She had long Tom between her masts on a swivel did he go

We were often chased by man'o'wars and oft times by frigates too
But to overhaul our goodly ship it was more than they could do
Sail all in vain astern of us their cannons roared aloud
They could not by any means at all overhaul the Flying Cloud

We robbed and plundered many a ship down on the Spanish Main
Left many a widow and an orphan child in sorrow to complain
We caused the crew to walk the plank that hung out over our rail
The saying of our captain was dead men tells no tales

We were often chased by man'o'wars and oft times by frigates too
But to overhaul our goodly ship it was more than they could do
Sail all in vain astern of us their cannons roared aloud

(Speaks): Did I sing this before?

They could not by any means at all overhaul the Flying Cloud

So fare you well sweet Waterford and the girl I loved so dear
Her voice like music soft and sweet I never more shall hear
I never more shall kiss her rosy cheek nor press her lily-white hand
For it's on the gallows I must die by the laws of the Spanish Land


Notes

Sources: Mercer 122; Laws K28; Leach 156; Ryan 2; Peacock , 842; other variants in English, Greenleaf, Recorded by Newfoundland singer, Tommy Nemec, on Songs from the Cape (BackCove, 2003). Roud 1802.

History: A ship known as the Flying Cloud, built in the mid 19 th century, was reknowned for its speedy transit from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn (Peacock,845). The ballad, however, seems to reference an earlier pirate ship.

Text notes: A famous account of a slave ship that turns pirate, eventually being defeated by a Spanish vessel. The crew of the Flying Cloud are executed.

Tune notes: Peacock collected two tunes. The one which he collected in the Codroy Valley and regarded as "superior" is a variant of the tune sung by Mr. March. Leach also collected a version from Gerald Aylward of Cape Broyle. The two singers whom Leach recorded, as well as Tommy Nemec (see above for the recording) perform different tunes, though all are arch-shaped abba patterns, either in 4/4 or "swung" a little into 6/8 metre.

 

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