The Token
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This English tune was written by Charles Dibdin (1740-1814).

Charles Dibdin was the eighteenth son of a poor silvermaker. He was born in Southampton in 1740 and died in London in 1814. In 1778 he became resident composer at Covent Garden. In 1803 the British government paid him to write a series of songs to "keep alive the national feelings against the French." (1)

Dibdin's songs were said to be worth ten thousand sailors to the cause of England. His songs were also popular in Canada and America before and during the American Revolution and during the War of 1812.

For other tunes by Charles Dibdin at this site, enter Charles Dibdin in the search engine or see The Contemplator's Short Biography of Charles Dibdin.

The breeze was fresh, the ship was in stays,
Each breaker hush'd, the shore a haze,
When Jack, no more on duty call'd
His true love's tokens over haul'd;
The broken gold, the braided hair,
The tender motto, writ so fair,
Upon his 'bacco box he views,
Upon his 'bacco box he views,
Nancy the poet, love the muse,
If you loves I.... as I loves you,
No pair so happy as we two.

The storm, that like the shapeless wreck
Had strew'd with rigging all the deck,
That tars for sharks had giv'n a feast,
And left the ship a hulk had ceas'd:
When Jack, as with his messmates dear.
He shar'd the grog their hearts to cheer,
Took from his 'bacco box a quid,
And spell'd for comfort on the lid,
If you loves I.... as I loves you,
No pair so happy as we two.

The battle - that with horror grim
Had madly ravag'd life and limb,
Had scupper drenched with human gore
And widow'd many a wife - was o'er:
When Jack to his companions dear
First paid the tribute of a tear;
Then, as his 'bacco-box he held,
Restor'd his comfort as he spelled-
If you loves I.... as I loves you,
No pair so happy as we two.

The voyage, - that had been long and hard,
But that had yielded full reward,
And bought each sailor to his friend
Happy and rich - was at an end:
When Jack, his toils and perils o'er,
Beheld his Nancy on the shore:
He then the 'bacco box display'd,
And cried, and seized the yielding maid,
If you loves I.... as I loves you,
No pair so happy as we two.

Related Links
From Songs of England
J. L. Hatton and Eaton Fanning and
(1)The National Music of America and Its Sources
See Bibliography for full information.