Friday, November 11, 2016

The sailor and the ghost, 1805

Today's sailor comes from a broadside ballad published in 1805. It details the story of a sailor who gets two women with child, marries only one, and is at last revenged by his jilted lover's ghost, who followed him to the sea after hanging herself. The moral at the end of the ballad is this:
You that do to love belong
Now you have heard this moumful song
Be true to one lest ill betide
And don't delude poor woman kind

"The Sailor and the Ghost". London, 1805. Lewis Walpole Library.
This is the first time I've covered a broadside ballad, and it's an interesting change from my usual study of caricatures. While this etching is still not treated with the same amount of verisimilitude as a serious subject like a historic painting, the sailor is less exaggerated: in particular his hat is not drawn oversized and "squashy" like sailors in caricatures of the late 1790s-early 1800s are often drawn wearing, but more realistically with a straight-sided, medium crown with a flat top.
Jack has short, curly hair, clearly visible since his round hat has fallen off his head. The black round hat has a white lining and a straight-sided medium crown and a brim of medium size. He wears a dark-colored triple-breasted jacket that ends at his upper thigh, with a white single-breasted waistcoat and shirt underneath. His black neck handkerchief is loosely-knotted around his neck, with the knot falling around his lower breastbone. His white trousers are tight at the ankle and looser in the thigh. On his feet he wears pointed-toe black buckled shoes and white stockings.

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