The Gouden Vanity – Child 286


A brave young cabin loon’s offert money and land by his Captain, if he’ll sweem ower tae a French Galleon an ca holes in her side tae gar her sink.  He taks the offer, sweems ower an sinks the ship nae bothir.   But fan he gets back tae the Gouden Vanity the Captain reneges on his promise an winna haal him back on board. He wisna haein that though, an telt them he’d sink the Gouden Vanity as weel. That did the trick an they haaled him up and gaed him the rewards he wis promised.


This is a really auld ballad.  The earliest printed version o’t names Sir Walter Raleigh as the captain, but a lot of scholars think it’s evin aulder gin at.


There was a gallant ship and a gallant ship was she
Eek-eedle-ee in the Lowlands low
And she was caed The Gowden Vanitie
As she sailed in the Lowlands low

She hadna sailed a league, a league and only three
Fan she fell in wi a French gallee

Then up spak the captain and up spak he
Oh, fa’ll sink for me yon French gallee

Then up spak the cabin boy and boldly up spak he
Fit will ye gie to me gin I sink yon French gallee

Then up spak the captain and up spak he
I’ll gie ye lands and hooses in the North countrie

Then rowe me up ticht in a black bull’s skin
An throw me owerboard, tae sink an swim

Then a-doon and a-doon and a-doon sunk he
An he swam ower tae the French gallee

Now some were at the cairds an some were at the dice
Fan he took oot his drill, bored holes in her side,

Some they ran wi’ cloaks, and some they ran wi’ caps
But they tried a in vain tae stop the water draps

Then aroon an aroon an aroon gaed she
An she sank doon tae the bottom o the sea

Then aroon an aroon an aroon swam he
Till he cam up tae The Gowden Vanitie

Throw me doon a rope and haul me up on board
An prove untae me as good as yer word

We winna throw a rope nor haul ye up on board
Nor prove untae ye as gid as oor word

Oh, throw me doon a rope and haul me fae the sea
Or I’ll sink ye tae the bottom as I sunk the French gallee

So they threw him doon a rope and hauled him up on board
And proved untae him far better than their word.


Ballad: The Gowden Vanity (Child 286)
Singer: Jodie Beaton



This is a tune fae The Greig~Duncan Collection Vol 1 no.37 v.B
This tune cam fae Ewan McColl fa lernt it fae his mither, Betsy Miller

Print Version