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The Pressed Lover
(The Astrologer)
(Laws N5; Roud 601)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded in singer's home, summer 1975

Carroll Mackenzie Collection 

Martin Howley

There was a rich merchant in London dwelt,
He had but one daughter and none could excel.
Rich lords came to court her but she slighted them all,
And she fancied a young sailor both proper and tall.

At length it was discovered what her own father meant,
To see this young sailor of late coming in.
A house that her father will soon do will part
And if it prove loyal, it’s not from my heart.

He called down his daughter with an anger he frowned:
‘Can’t you get better matches and female renown?
Can’t you get better matches your arms to embrace,
Not to wed with the sailor your friends to disgrace?’

‘My dearest father your pardon I crave
There is none in this world but the sailor I’ll take.
The sailor he’s willing, he’s a lad I adore,
And I’ll go with him where loud cannons roar.’

‘Now my dearest daughter it’s from me you can part,
And if it’s the sailor that has gained your heart.
Go get married in private and speak not to me,
And when it’s all over we’ll kindly agree.’

As the sailor and the lady were walking down by the church door,
They met there a press-gang about half a score.
They took him a prisoner and marched him away
And instead of great enjoyment it was a sorrowful day.

This lady dressed up in a suit o' man’s clothes,
And off to the captain she instantly goes.
She joined the sailors, it fell to her lot
That she wasn’t asleep in her lover’s hammock.

As the lady and the sailor were crossing the deep
Said the lady to the sailor: ‘Why do you sight in your sleep?’
‘I once had a sweetheart,’ the sailor did say,
‘And it was her cruel father that sent me away.’

‘I am an extronomer [astrologer], rare to my pen,
Distrology [Astronomy] books I presume now and then.
But come tell me your age, and I’ll cast up your lot
And I’ll know if you gained this fair maiden or not.’

He told her his age and the day of his birth,
She said, ‘You were born with great joy and mirth.
Now have your sweetheart and spy to them all,
And here is your Eileen just now at your call.’

They both, they got married in amongst the ship’s crew,
No wonder this lady would prove loyal and true.
She has now landed safe in Columbia’s shore,
And not a fig for her father she care not no more.


“Known otherwise as ‘The Disguised Sailor’, Martin probably chose the ‘fortune-telling’ motif to identify this song, hence his title, ‘The Astrologer’. It appeared as a long broadside in the 19th century but, whether it was the composition of a ‘hack’ or was taken and ‘broadside-ised’ by one of them, will remain a mystery. Whatever its origins, it is an example of singers through the ages discarding unnecessary baggage and leaving us with a perfectly satisfying and complete song.”
Jim Carroll

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