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SONGS AND BALLADS
Another is a woman's lament:
' Oh, the lousy cutter, They've taen my laddie frae me, They've pressed him far away foreign Wi' Nelson ayont the salt sea.
' They always come in the night, They never come in the day; They always come in the night And steal the laddies away.'
A certain Captain Bover was particularly energetic in pressing men, of whom a sailor and his lass thus sing:
' Where hes ti' been, maw canny hinny,
Where hes ti' been, maw winsome man ? Aw've been ti' the norrard,
Cruising back and forrard, Aw've been ti' the norrard,
Cruising sair and lang, Aw've been ti' the norrard, cruising back and forrard, , But daurna come ashore for Bover and his gang.'
(L. Smith, Music of the Waters, 1888, p. 112.)
When the war ended the press-gang lost its very real terrors, though their memory long survived in tradition. It became a subject for sentimental or burlesque treatment, as in Oh Cruel! and the Answer to that song. Its special function in the sentimental ballads printed during the first half of the nineteenth century was to prevent the course of true love from running smooth :
' This jolly young sailor, as true is reported, Had been but a very few weeks on the shore
But as he and his love together was walking, By a large press he from her was tore.'