To All You Ladies Now On Land

Melody - John Wall Callcott

Charles Sackville

To all you ladies now on land
We men at sea indite,
But first would have you understand
How hard it is to write;
The Muses now, and Neptune too,
We must implore to write to you.
With a fa la la la la la la . . . .
  In justice you cannot refuse
To think of our distress,
When we for hopes of honour lose
Our certain happiness.
All these designs are but to prove
Ourselves more worthy of your love.
With a fa la la la la la la . . . .

And now we've told you all our loves,
And likewise all our fears,
In hopes this declaration moves
Some pity for our tears:
Let's hear of no inconstancy,
We have enough of that at sea.
With a fa la la la la la la . . . .

Whether Dr Callcott, the composer of this catchy little tune, ever seriously expected hard-headed tars to sing fa-la-Ias is open to some doubt! Callcott had a nice line in glees and catches in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when such pieces were very much in demand. His compositions won him a great reputation and many prizes. Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset, wrote the words in the late seventeenth century at the time of the first Dutch War. Pepys mentions the song in his diary: 'To my Lord Brounker's by appointment, in the Piazza, Covent Garden; where I occasioned much mirth with a ballet I brought with me, made from the seamen at sea to the ladies in town.' Pepys tune was actually different. It lacked the roistering quality of Callcott's later part song.

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