The Sweet Trinity

A poem by Frank Sidgwick

The Text is taken from a broadside in the Pepys collection (iv. 196), which can be dated between 1682 and 1685, and is entitled Sir Walter Raleigh sailing in the Low-lands. Three other copies of the same edition of the broadside are known.


The Story of the Sweet Trinity has become confused with that of the Golden Vanity (Golden Victorie, Golden Trinitie, Gold Pinnatree are variants), which is probably a corrupted form of it; indeed the weak ending of the broadside challenges any singer to improve upon it. But again there are two distinct variations of the Golden Vanity ballad. In the first class, the boy, having sunk the French galley, calls to the Golden Vanity to throw him a rope, and when it is refused, threatens to sink her too; whereupon they take him aboard and carry out all their promises of reward (which vary considerably in the different versions). In the second class, the boy dies after he is taken up from the water; in one version he sinks from exhaustion before he can be saved.

The Sweet Trinity, however, has been taken by a ship of unspecified nationality ('false' might easily become corrupted into 'French'); and thus this ballad deals with three ships, while the Golden Vanity versions mention but two. The latter are still current in folk-song.


THE SWEET TRINITY

1.
Sir Walter Raleigh has built a ship,
In the Netherlands;
Sir Walter Raleigh has built a ship,
In the Netherlands;
And it is called the Sweet Trinity,
And was taken by the false gallaly.
Sailing in the Lowlands.

2.
'Is there never a Seaman bold
In the Netherlands;
Is there never a Seaman bold
In the Netherlands;
That will go take this false gallaly,
And to redeem the Sweet Trinity?
Sailing in the Lowlands.

3.
Then spoke the little Ship-boy,
In the Netherlands;
Then spoke the little Ship-boy,
In the Netherlands;
'Master, master, what will you give me,
And I will take this false gallaly,
And release the Sweet Trinity?
Sailing in the Lowlands.

4.
'I'll give thee gold, and I'll give thee fee,
In the Netherlands;
I'll give thee gold, and I'll give thee fee,
In the Netherlands;
And my eldest daughter, thy wife shall be.
Sailing in the Lowlands.'

5.
He set his breast, and away he did swim,
Until he came to the false gallaly.

6.
He had an augur fit for the nonce,
The which will bore fifteen good holes at once.

7.
Some were at cards, and some at dice,
Until the salt water flashed in their eyes.

8.
Some cut their hats, and some cut their caps,
For to stop the salt water gaps.

9.
He set his breast, and away did swim,
Until he came to his own ship again.

10.
'I have done the work I promised to do,
I have sunk the false gallaly,
And released the Sweet Trinity.

11.
'You promised me gold, and you promised me fee,
Your eldest daughter my wife she must be.'

12.
'You shall have gold, and you shall have fee,
But my eldest daughter your wife shall never be.'

13.
'Then fare you well, you cozening Lord,
Seeing you are not so good as your word.'

14.
And thus I shall conclude my song,
Of the sailing in the Lowlands,
Wishing all happiness to all seamen both old and young,
In their sailing in the Lowlands.

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