Three Jolly Coachmen

Here’s a grand old song that was first brought into the band by Paul, and now Joseph handles it.  Originally it was known as “The Jolly Fellow”, or also as “Come, Landlord, Fill the Flowing Bowl” and some variants, and is dated by scholars to the mid-17th century; it is a ditty inspired by the earlier song, Drink Today,  which appears in the c. 1617/1639 play “Rollo Duke of Normandy, or The Bloody Brother” by John Fletcher. There are some 18th century references to the song, some of which claim it as a leftover from the previous century; it enjoyed a sudden revival in broadside ballads throughout the 19th century, in college song books, and in 20th century historical reenactments and renaissance fairs that dot the landscape in season.  The version below is how we present it, and a bit more upbeat than I imagine would have been sung in earlier times!  Below that I will include the lyrics to a broadside printing of the song in the very late 17th century – actual date not known.

Jos. Morneault

 

|: Three jolly coachmen sat in an Essex tavern :|  (or whatever town you wish)
And they decided,
and they decided, and they decided…
To have another flagon

OH, ho, ho! (Ah, hah, hah!) (And a couple of la dee dahs)

|: Landlord fill the flowing bowl*** until it does run over :|
For tonight we’ll be merry,
tonight we’ll be merry, tonight we’ll be merry…
Tomorrow we’ll be sober.

OH, ho, ho! (Ah, hah…)

|: Here’s to the man who drinks small beer** and goes to bed quite sober :|
He falls as the leaves do fall,
falls as the leaves do fall, falls as the leaves do fall…
He’ll die before October.

OH, ho, ho! (Ah, hah…)

|: But here’s to the man who drinks strong ale and goes to bed quite mellow :|
He lives as he ought to live,
lives as he ought to live, lives as he ought to live…
For Cliff’s a jolly good fellow.

OH, ho ho! (Ah, hah…)

|: Here’s to the maid who steals a kiss but runs to tell her mother :|
She’s a foolish foolish thing, she’s a foolish foolish thing, she’s a foolish foolish thing
For she’ll not get another.

OH, ho, ho! (Ah, hah…)

|: Here’s to the maid who steals a kiss and stays to steal another! :|
She’s a boon to all mankind, she’s a boon to all mankind, she’s a boon to all mankind
For she’ll soon be a mother.

Oh, ho, ho! (Ah, hah…)

*|: If I had another brick I’d build my chimney higher :|
It would keep my neighbour’s cat, it would keep my neighbour’s cat, it would…
From pissing on my fire!
OH, ho ho! (Ah, hah…)

*|: Come out to the garden, Mary, don’t be so particular :|
If the ground is cold and damp, If the ground is cold and damp, If the…
We’ll do it perpendicular!
OH, ho, ho! (Ah! Hah…)


|: Landlord fill the flowing bowl until it does run over :|
For tonight we’ll do Mary,
tonight we’ll do Mary, tonight we’ll do Mary…
And tomorrow we’ll do her sister!

OH, ho, ho! (Ah, hah…)

* a couple of “new” verses handed to me by a friend rather recently.

** Small beer, or “swipes”, is what today we might call “light”.  It is low alcohol content, thus weak, and barely considered beer at all but for some colouration and fizziness.  It has nothing to do with the size of the glass or amount consumed.

*** Archaic reference to a large vessel for drinking out of/decanter for same.  Beer/ale was often brought to the table in 16th/17th century England in pitchers or bowls of a fashion from which the contents were then poured into smaller drinking glasses/tankards by the drinkers themselves.  A “flowing bowl” would essentially mean “keep ’em coming” or a container which “never empties”.

 

Landlord, Fill a Flowing Bowl (late 17th/early 18th century).

Come, Landlord, fill a flowing bowl, until it does run over;
To-night we all will merry be, to-morrow we’ll get sober.

He that drinks strong beer, and goes to bed mellow,
Lives as he ought to live, and dies a hearty fellow.

Punch cures the gout, the colic and the tisic,
And is to all men the very best of physic.

He that drinks small beer, and goes to bed sober,
Falls as the leaves do that die in October.

He that drinks strong beer and goes to bed mellow,
Lives as he ought to live, and dies a happy fellow.

He that courts a pretty girl, and courts her for her pleasure,
Is a fool to marry her without a store of treasure.

Now let us dance and sing, and drive away all sorrow,
For perhaps we may not meet again to-morrow.

Ballad – Roud Number: 1234
Title: The flowing bowl
First Line: Come landlord fill aflowing bowl
Themes: Drinking
Printings:
Shelfmark: 2806 c.17(135)
Notes: Slip. Originally a sheet with 2806 c.17(322).
http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/view/edition/15131

 

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