Ye generals all and champions bold,
That takes delight in the field,
That knocks down palaces and castle walls,
But now to death must yield:
I am an Englishman by birth,
Lord Marlborough is my name,
In Devonshire I drew my breath,
That place of noted fame.
I was beloved by all my men,
Kings and princes likewise
Its many a town I've often took,
I did the world surprise.
King Charles the Second I did serve,
To face our foes in France
And at the battle of Ramilles
We boldly did advance.
The sun was down, the earth did shake,
So loudly did I cry:
"Fight on, my boys, for England's sake,
We'll conquer or we'll die!"
That very day my horse was shot,
'Twas by a musket ball,
And as I mounted up again,
My aide-de-camp did fall.
Now I on a bed of sickness lie,
I am resign'd to die;
You generals all and champions bold,
Stand true as well as I.
Stand true, my lads, and take no bribe,
But fight with courgae bold,
I led my men through smoke and fire,
But never was brib'd by gold.
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Source: Purslow, F, (1972), The Constant Lovers, EDFS, London
Collected from William Chubb, Beaminster, Dorset on June 1906 by Hammond (Dt. 515)
A slightly abridged form of Purslow's Notes follow:
The text is mainly from Mrs Webb, originally of King's Norton, near Birmingham but living at Bath, Somerset (Hammond Wr 294). The order of her verses have been changed and a few amendments made from a version in the Gardiner manuscripts No Hp. 621. The usual broadside text consists of five verses, but both singers had telescoped versions. Presumably the song belongs to the period with which it deals, yet the earliest extant broadsides seem to be from the Catnach press early in the 19th century, reprinted almost immediately by Harkness of Preston, and later by Such of London S.E. 1. If there was a 17th century ballad sheet no copies seem to have survived that I know of, but if they have they have escaped the attention of both Chappell and Simpson, although neither would have bothered with the song if there was no tune recorded in print. The tune is presumably in 3/2, but its "stop-go" character, which probably sounded fine when fitted with an accompaniment, asks for half-beats to be omitted when sung by an unsupported - and unsophisticated - voice. See the version collected by Percy Grainger in F.S.S. "Journal" No 12 for a notation which almost defeats its own object.
Although Marlborough was in the army (as Colonel Churchill) during the reign of Charles II, he was not created Duke of Marlborough until 1688, by William of Orange. Earlier he had put down the Duke of Monmouth's rebeliion in 1685. He also served Queen Anne - his victory at Ramilles was in 1706.
There are a good few broadside editions, under a number of titles, at Ã?Â Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. All appear to be of the 19th century.
The duke of Marlborough
Duke of Marlboro
Duke of Marlbrough
Roud: 233 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six