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So Abroad As I Was Walking / As Broad As I Was Walking

[ Roud 23793 ; trad.]

Bob Copper collected So Abroad As I Was Walking, in November 1957 from Victor ‘Turp’ Brown in Cheriton, near Arlesford, Hampshire. He published this song in his book (1973) and subsequent album (1977) Songs and Southern Breezes. This recording was also included in 1998 on Come Let Us Buy the Licence (The Voice of the People Volume 1).

The song shares the “meeting is a pleasure” / “unconstant lover” floating verses with The Cuckoo and On Top of Old Smokey.

Bob Copper collected another song with a similar title, As Broad As I Was Walking, from a book left by John Johnson, 1865-1943, in Fittleworth, Sussex in about 1954 and published it his book Songs and Southern Breezes. Steve Roud gave both songs the same number, 23793, even if they are quite different.

Andy Turner sang As Broad As I Was Walking as the 26 February 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He commented in his blog:

Bob Copper’s book Songs and Southern Breezes tells, in his usual easy, good-natured style, of his time in the 1950s running a pub in Hampshire, whilst working as a song collector for the BBC. Bob paints vivid pen-portraits of the rustic characters from whom he collected songs, and the book includes transcriptions of some of these songs. There’s one group of songs, however, which came via a slightly different route, the singer—John Johnson of Fittleworth—having died some years before Bob arrived in the area.

Fortunately Mr Johnson had written out the words of his songs in a book, and his daughter Mrs Gladys Stone, and son John were still able to remember the tunes. This one was recorded from John Johnson junior at Reigate in Surrey.


Turp Brown sings So Abroad As I Was Walking

So abroad as I was walking down by some silent grove,
By some crystal fountain I saw my own true love.
When flowers they were springing, young lambs they’re all a-playing,
It’s down the banks of Ireland so careless there they lie.

The first time I saw my love she quite surprised me
By the blooming of her cheeks and the spark-a-ling of her eyes.
My love she’s tall, she’s handsome, most beautiful and fair.
There’s not a one in this count-ery can with all my love compare.

So walking and a-talking and a-walking goes I
To meet my own sweet William, he will surely come bye and bye.
When meeting is a pleasure and parting is a grief
And an unconstant lover is worse than the thief.

For a thief he can but rob you and take all you have,
But an unconstant lover will bring you to the grave,
Your grave he will rot you and bring you to the dust.
There’s not a-one in this count-ery, my love, as you can trust.

John Johnson’s As Broad As I Was Walking

As broad as I was walking down in a shady grove,
I heard a fair maid talking, lamenting for her love
Till I became a-courting her in a rude and rakish way,
But her behaviour it was so clever, so modest and yet gay.

I clasped my arms all round her, I gave her kisses sweet,
I gently did salute her till she began to weep;
She wept, she wailed, she wrung her hands, crying out, “Young man, for shame!
I pray be easy and do not tease me, for I think you are to blame.

“Or do you think that I am some mistress of delight?
Or do you think that I am a-going to be ruined quite?
Oh no, oh no, oh no,” said she, “such ways will never do,
I have a lover of good behaviour that’s far exceeding you.

“That man that I admire, he is both kind and true,
He’s comely in behaviour that’s far exceeding you.
He’s proper tall, genteel with all, he has no deluding tongue,
He is no rover but a true lover to me, a damsel young.

“And if I can’t enjoy the man that I love best,
I never will get married as long as I draw breath.
No, never will I married be nor yet be made a wife
If I lose my choice, I will rejoice in a sweet and single life.”