Through Moorfields
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This was printed on a broadside named The Lover's Harmony circa 1830. In that version the hero is a sailor. Broadwood states this is evidently from a broadside of a much earlier date.

Mad songs were very fashionable in the 17th and 18th centuries. (See Bedlam for another tune and information.) According to Broadwood, Old Bethlem (Bethlehem) Hospital was moved to Moorfields in 1675 and was moved from there in 1814. During the 18th century it was a popular diversion to visit the hospital to watch the antics of the poor inmates in Bedlam. Admission was one penny and it is said the hospital realized an income of four hundred pounds a year from visitors.

There are other broadsides with nearly the same words titled The Distracted Maiden, The Fair Maid in Bedlam and Nancy's Complaint in Bedlam (see the Bodleian Library for these).

This version was collected in Sussex in 1893.

Through Moorfields, and to Bedlam I went;
I heard a young damsel to sigh and lament;
She was wringing of her hands, and tearing of her hair,
Crying, Oh! cruel parents! you have been too severe!

You've banished my truelove o'er the seas away,
Which causes me in Bedlam to sigh, and to say
That your cruel, base actions cause me to complain,
For the loss of my dear has distracted my brain.

When the silk-mercer first came on shore,
As he was passing by Bedlam's door,
He heard his truelove lamenting full sore,
Saying, Oh! I shall never see him any more!

The mercer, hearing that, he was struck with surprise,
When he saw through the window her beautiful eyes;
He ran to the porter the truth for to tell,
Saying, Show me the way to the joy of my soul!

The porter on the mercer began for to stare,
To see how he was for the loss of his dear;
He gave to the porter a broad piece of gold,
Saying, Show me the way to the joy of my soul!

And when that his darling jewel he did see
He took her, and sat her all on his knee,
Says she, Are you the young man my father sent to sea,
My own dearest jewel, for loving of me?

Oh yes! I'm the man that your father sent to sea,
Your own dearest jewel, for loving of thee!
Then adieu to my sorrows, for they now are all fled,
Adieu to these chains, and likewise this straw bed!

They sent for their parents, who came then with speed;
They went to the church, and were married indeed.
So all you wealthy parents, do a warning take,
And never strive true lovers their promises to break.

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From English Traditional Songs and Carols
See Bibliography for full information.