Frolicsome Sea Captain or Tit for Tat
All you that delight in a frolicsome song,
I'll tell you a story before it be long.
It's of a sea captain, a frolicsome spark,
Who played with a sailor's fair wife in the dark.
John Linson the sailor was called by name;
His wife was a fair and beautiful dame.
On board she would go her brisk husband to see;
Thinks the captain: 'My girl, you're a supper for me.'
The captain his chops did water full sore.
One day he commanded all women on shore;
And every sailor on board he must be,
Whilst he this fair charmer would go for to see.
Young beautiful Molly took leave of her dear,
And after her the captain he quickly did steer;
And after her the captain he quickly went home,
And began for to make a lamentable moan.
'You fairest of creatures take pity on me,
And keep a little secret I'll tell unto thee;
The charms of your beauty my favour has won,
And if you deny me I'm surely undone.'
'Forbear, noble captain, your suit it is vain.
My husband's a sailor that ploughs on the main,
And you are his captain; so be not so base,
For we both shall rue it if he knew the cause.'
'Here's fifty bright guineas, my joy and delight,
I'll give you to lie with you all night.
His horns he may take for a venture at sea,
And I'll use him well in every degree.'
The sight of the gold did tempt this fair dame
That soon she consented to play at the game.
The captain so surely lay with her that night,
And he paid her the fifty good guineas so bright.
His bedfellow pleased him so well to the life
He oftentimes kissed her and left his own wife.
At length the young sailor heard this by and by,
But he kept it as snug as a pig in a sty.
One day he resolved to know what was done;
In the dusk of the evening went into the room,
And under the bed he lay both snug and warm
Till she sent for the captain, thinking little harm.
She said:'My dear jewel, my husband's on board.'
'I doubt it', said the captain. She said: 'By my word,
He gave me a kiss and bade me goodnight.'
Then said the captain: 'I'll enjoy my delight.'
They stripped off their clothes and into bed goes,
And began to jumble in a huzzy hoze.
They tumbled the sailor so under the bed
That soon he found the captain had horned his head.
He lay snug and warm till they were fast asleep,:
Then from under the bed he gently did creep;
He put on the captain's laced breeches and coat,
His shoes and his stockings to make up the joke.
He dressed himself up from top to toe,
And home to the captain's lady he did go.
He knocked at the door with courage so bold,
Dressed all in his glittering robes of gold.
The maid let him in; being late in the night,
The girl half asleep she reached him a light.
He said: 'Where's your mistress?' She said: 'She's in bed.'
'Come, open my chamber door quickly,' he said.
To be stark drunk himself he did frame.
The lady said: 'Captain, you run your own game.
Sometimes all the night you from me do roll,
And when you come home you're as drunk as an owl.'
He leapt into bed, and the candle put out.
The lady she turned her backside in a huff.
He mumbled and grumbled as sots they will do,
He pulled her and hauled her for to buckle to.
'You'll tear my lace smock,' said the lady so fair.
'Your breath smells so strong of the ale, wine and beer,
I can't turn to you, so seize me no more.
I suppose you have been carousing all night with a whore.
He made her no answer, but played with her knees;
At length this young lady began to be pleased.
So he tit for tat with the captain did play,
And slept in her arms till the break of the day.
When the lady awoke and beheld his face,
Then she cried out in a pitiful case.
He said: 'My dear charmer, be not in a fright,
For the captain hath been with my wife all the night.'
He told her the story, and when she did hear
With wonder the lady began for to stare.
She laughed till her sides she did hold at the joke,
For to think how the captain did fret for his coat.
Said the lady: 'I'll go in my coach, I protest,
And see how he looks in his tarpollian dress.
The sailor put on his embroidered array,
So both to the captain they straight took their way.
Then up the stairs they both nimbly tripped.
The captain in his short jacket was fixed.
He stared at them both, but said never a word;
Said the sailor: 'I thought you had been on board.'
Jack lift up his cane and gave him a stroke.
'Zounds', said the captain, 'Jack, pull off my coat.'
'Husband,' said the lady, 'pray where might you be,
When he got your coat and came home to me?'
'I am sure it has caused a woeful mistake.'
'Sure', said the captain, 'You have not horned my pate.'
'Dear husband,' said she, 'I say little for that,
For if he did you know, it was but tit for tat.'
'Here are fifty bright guineas, Jack, pull off my coat.
Of this to the sailors may be your report.
There is many can match us, you very well know,
So we are cuckolds, boys, all in a row.'
from Roy Palmer, Oxford Book of Sea Songs
text from a Belfast chapbook in 1769