55  A Warning to all lewd Livers./ By the Example of a disobedient Child [Roxburghe 3.262-63]

Author: Price, Laurence (fl. 1628–1675)

Crime - robbery/theft Death - result of immorality Economy - hardship/poverty Economy - money Emotions - sorrow Employment - sailors/soldiers Family - children/parents Family - inheritance Gender - sex Recreation - games/sports Religion - moral rules

Song History

A Warning to all lewd Livers was written by Laurence Price and first published in 1633 by Thomas Lambert.

The song tells a moral tale of a riotous and irreligious young man who now laments his deserved downfall. The author, Laurence Price, was one of the most popular balladeers of the seventeenth century and this is just one of many songs he composed that captured the imaginations of audiences, both in the seventeenth century and afterwards. 

For a long period, this song was attributed to another of the seventeenth century's 'greats', Martin Parker. Susan Newman pointed out, however, that this attribution depended upon a misprint on a late edition of the ballad, which is the one featured here (see the initials added at the end). All earlier editions, including the first by Thomas Lambert, identified the author instead as 'L. P.' Another indication of Laurence Price's authorship comes from the close textual link between this ballad and another of his songs, A Dreadful Relation, of the Cruel, Bloudy, and most Inhumane Massacre and Butchery, committed on the poor Protestants, in the Dominions of the Duke of Savoy (1655). Price wrote this to accompany his pamphlet on the same subject (see also Featured tune history). 

The imprint and licence strapline on the featured edition tells us that it was published after 1656 for Francis Grove (see Ballad business essay). Grove had acquired the title from Lambert, a close colleague who left the trade in the early 1640s. Grove also knew Price very well, and published many of his songs. It is possible that Grove (and perhaps Price) noted the misprinted author's initials and sold the misprinted sheets on as waste, because another ballad was printed on the verso by Charles Tyus.

After Grove's death in 1662, many of his titles, including A Warning to all lewd Livers, were sold to the Ballad Partners, who kept the song in print until the early eigteenth century.

Angela McShane


Susan Newman, ‘The Broadside Ballads of Martin Parker: a Bibliographical and Critical Study’, University of Birmingham Unpublished PhD Thesis. (1975)

Angela McShane, ‘Laurence Price, balladeer and pamphlet writer’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press Online, 2020).

Angela McShane, The Ballad Trade and its Politics in Seventeenth Century Britain (Woodbridge, forthcoming).

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of 'Sir Andrew Barton' (lost tune with standard name, Bleeding heart)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost.

Versions and variations

The melody has not survived in a version from the seventeenth century, nor have we found a later tune with a strong link to a relevant text. We have therefore not recorded this song, though it could be sung to the later tune that we used on our rendition of A True Relation of the Life and Death of Sir Andrew Barton (the two songs shared a melody in the seventeenth century). This lost tune was known variously as 'Bleeding heart', 'Sir Andrew Barton' and 'Come follow my love'.

Echoes (an overview)

Although the tune is lost, it is possible to say something about the associations it carried on the basis of its nomination for the singing of other ballads. The story begins with three hits songs of c. 1629-31: two cautionary tales (An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman and A Warning to all lewd Livers) and a semi-celebratory song about the bold exploits of a pirate (A True Relation of the Life and Death of Sir Andrew Barton). The Barton ballad may have been the most successful of the three but, in terms of the tune’s subsequent history, it was the other two that set the tone, and praise for pirates was rarely encountered again (though a certain sneaking sympathy, encouraged by the melody's piratical past, may have survived in the minds of some listeners).

The largest number of ballads that subsequently nominated the tune were about vile murders and the justice visited upon the perpetrators (see, for example, The wicked Midwife and Inhumane, & Cruel Bloody News from Leeds). The tune seems to have become associated particularly with heavy moral warnings about the consequences of heinous sin, and the murder ballads were consumed alongside a number of cautionary tales about wrong-doing that often ended in death or mysterious illness (The YOUTHS Guide and Strange News from Stafford-shire). To these moralising stories, we might add several ballads about monstrous births, massacres of continental Protestants, the urgent need for repentance, the responsibility of preparing for death, and Quakers who died on hunger strike (the closest we come to light relief is a Christmas song entitled The Sinners Redemption).

The songs are connected not only by their tune but also by some textual cross-references or affinities. The opening lines of the influential Warning to all lewd Livers run ‘My bleeding heart with griefe and care,/ doth wish all young men to beware’, and they are echoed at the start of A Dreadful Relation: ‘With bleeding heart & mournful tear/ I am enforced to declare’ (a further ballad, the title of which is missing, begins ‘All hearts that ever yet did bleed’). The potency of the ‘bleeding heart’ motif is also reflected in the fact that this became a new title for the tune. Other ballads also presented couplets that bear more than a passing resemblance to one another:

‘The thing unto her then they told,/ And the whole Truth they did unfold’ [The Chamberlain’s Tragedy].

‘No tongue such cruelty e’re told,/ As I to you shall here unfold’ [Title missing... Being a sad and true Relation].

‘O then let me extort both young and old/ To pray to God e’re his wrath unfold’ [The YOUTHS Guide].

In addition, two of the ballads share material with songs that were set to other tunes. The Old Gentlewoman last Legacy, for example, is strongly related to the hit song An Hundred Godly Lessons, and two lines in The Sinners Redemption (‘But yet for all these wonders wrought/ The Jews his dire destruction wrought’) recall similar phraseology in A new Ditty, shewing the wonderfull Miracles of our Lord and Sauiour Jesus Christ (‘But yet for all these wonders great,/ The Jewes were in a raging heat’).

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on the melody].

Songs and Summaries

An excellent Ballad, Intituled, the unfortunate love of a Lancashire Gentleman, and the hard fortune of a fair young Bride. The tune is, Come follow my Love  (registered 624; F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 80; EBBA 31763. Gender – courtship, marriage; Family – children/parents; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, self-inflicted; Emotions – love, anger, despair; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Society – rich/poor; Recreation – weddings, food, walking. A wealthy young man marries his poor sweetheart in secret, but is then pressured by his father into wedding a richer woman whom he then murders in desperation (this song has a different metre from all of those listed below and it is difficult to believe that it can actually have been sung to the same tune).

A True Relation of the Life and Death of Sir Andrew Barton, a Pyrate and Rover on the Seas. Tune is, Come follow my Love (registered 1629; J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84). Pepys 1.484-85; EBBA 20227. Crime – piracy; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; History – medieval; Environment – sea; Violence – at sea; Death – warfare; Emotions – excitement, anger, patriotism; Politics – foreign affairs, controversy; Bodies – looks/physique, injury; Places – English, travel/transport; Royalty – authority. The Scottish pirate, Andrew Barton, has been disrupting England’s mercantile sea traffic, so King Henry despatches Lord Howard and more than a hundred brave men to sort him out.

A Warning to all lewd Livers... To the Tune of, Sir Andrew Barton (registered, 1633; Fra. Grove, 1656-62). Roxburghe 3.262-3; EBBA 30976. Family – children and parents; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – sex; Recreation – games; Religion – morality; Crime – robbery;  Death – result of immorality.  The tale of a young man who wastes all his money on gaming and lewd women before dying miserably on a dung-hill.

A Marvellous Murther, Committed upon the Body of one George Drawnefield of Brempton... To the tune of My bleeding heart (Francis Coules, 1633-80). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 2.1; EBBA 36048. Crime – murder, robbery/theft, punishment, prison; Violence – interpersonal; Death – unlawful killing; Morality – general, social/economic; Economy – livings, money; Religion – angels/devils, divine intervention; Society – neighbours; Emotions – horror; Family – siblings, inheritance; Bodies – health/sickness, injury; Gender – singles; Environment – flowers/trees; News – domestic; Places – English.  This describes a brutal and cunning murder, the forensic examinations that eventually established cause of death, and the process by which all the perpretrators are now facing justice.

The Sinners Redemption, Wherein is described the blessed Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his life on earth, and his precious death on the Cross for Mankind. To the tune of, The bleeding heart, or, In Creet, &c. (no imprint, mid-seventeenth century).  Roxburghe 1.374-75; EBBA 30252.  Religion – Christ/God, Bible, Judaism, heroism; Death – execution, godly end; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Violence – punitive. This tells the story of the nativity and connects it with other passages in Christ’s life, particularly his miracles and his death.

The wicked Midwife, the cruell Mother, and the harmelesse Daughter... To the tune of, The bleeding Heart (imprint missing,  mid seventeenth-century). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 1.41; EBBA 36032. Family – children/parents, pregnancy/childbirth; Crime – infanticide, punishment, false witness; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Employment – professions, female; Economy – prices/wages; Emotions – despair, shame; Gender – femininity, courtship; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Places – English; News – convicts/crimes, domestic, sensational. A young woman becomes pregnant out of wedlock and turns to her mother for aid, but the older woman has the baby killed by the midwife and then blames her own daughter for the crime.

The Great Turks terrible Challenge, this yeare 1640... To the tune of My bleeding heart, or Lets to the wars againe (Richard Harper, 1640?). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 1.2; EBBA 36010. Politics – foreign affairs, war; Religion –Muslims, heathens/infidels, prayer; Violence – between states; Death – warfare; Emotions – fear; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; News – international; Places – European, extra-European. The Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of Poland are in grave danger from the huge and aggressive forces of the Turkish sultan, and this song raises the alarm and prays for the deliverance of all Christians.

Colonell Rainsborowes Ghost: OR, A true Relation of the manner of his Death... To the tune of, My bleeding heart with griefe and care (‘Printed at LONDON 1648’). British Library 669.f.13. EBBA 36658.. Crime – murder; Death – warfare; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Politics – domestic, war; Violence – civil war, interpersonal, punitive; Morality – political; Emotions – sorrow, guilt; Places – English; News – convicts/crimes. The ghost of a troubled parliamentary soldier regrets his role in the death of two worthy men in Colchester and describes his own murder at the hands of those seeking revenge.

A Dreadful Relation, of the Cruel, Bloudy, and most Inhumane Massacre and Butchery, committed on the poor Protestans, in the Dominions of the Duke of Savoy... To the Tune of, The Bleeding Heart (John Andrews, 1655?). British Library C.20.f.14.(20.); EBBA 36810. Violence – interpersonal, political; Religion – Catholic/Protestant; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, warfare; Bodies – injury; Disability – physical; Emotions – horror, anger; Politics – foreign affairs, war; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Family – children/parents; Morality – general; Environment – landscape; News – international, political, sensational; Places – European; Society – old/young.  A graphic description of the massacre of many Protestants in the realms of the Duke of Savoy, all of them refusing to renounce their faith.

THE QUAKERS FEAR. OR, Wonderful strange and true News from the famous Town of Colchester... The tune is, Summertime. Or bleeding Heart (F. Coles, J. Wright, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1656-58). Wood 401(165). Religion – prophecy, Protestant nonconformity, saints, blasphemy; angels/devils, Bible, Christ/God; Bodies – nourishment, health/sickness; Crime – heresy, prison; Death – suicide; Emotions – hope, suspicion, wonder; News – domestic, convicts/crimes; Places – English. This describes the death in Colchester gaol of the Quaker leader, James Parnell, who perished after a twelve-day hunger strike and failed to fulfil the prophecies with which he had allegedly duped his followers.

The Examination, Confession, and Execution of Ursula Corbet... To the Tune of, The bleeding Heart (John Andrews, 1660?). Crawford 462(1); EBBA 32887. Crime – murder, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution, godly end; Gender – marriage; Morality – familial, general; Emotions – guilt; Employment – crafts/trades, professions; Family – children/parents; Places – English; Religion – sin/repentance, prayer; Violence – interpersonal, punitive; News – convicts/crimes. The story of a woman, born of ‘honest’ parents, who was excecuted by fire for poisoning her husband because she did not love him.

The Bloody Butcher, And the two wicked and cruel Bawds... The tune, The bleeding heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1667?). Euing 20; EBBA 31663. Crime – murder, rape, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal, sexual, domestic; Emotions – horror, anxiety, anger, longing; Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity, sexual violence; Employment – crafts/trades, prostitution, alehouses/inns; Morality – general, familial, romantic/sexual; News – convicts/crimes; Religion – angels/devils; Society – neighbours, urban life; Recreation – alcohol; Places – English. Two London murder cases are here described: first, an account of a butcher who stabbed his pregnant wife in the back during a dispute over money; and second, the tale of a brothel-keeper who offered an innocent ten-year-old girl to a client and suffocated her while trying to stifle her cries.

The Old Gentlewoman last Legacy... Tune of My bleeding Heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 849; EBBA 33488. Death – godly end; Family – children/parents; Religion – moral rules, Bible, Christ/God, charity, heaven/hell, church, blasphemy; Morality – general; Recreation – alcohol. A dying woman delivers moral and religious advice to her children, urging them to ‘Think on my words when I am dead’.

The YOUTHS Guide... Tune of, A Lesson for all true Christians; Or, My bleeding heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Crawford 1014; EBBA 33629. Death – illness, godly end, providential; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God, Catholic/Protestant, heaven/hell, Bible; Society – old/young; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Family – children/parents; Gender – sex; Morality – general; Places – English; Politics – plots; Recreation – alcohol. A young man on his deathbed exhorts us all, particularly those who are youthful, to heed the signs that God has recently sent, fly from sin and prepare for Judgement Day.

Death’s Uncontrollable Summons; OR, The Mortality of MANKIND... To the Tune of, My Bleeding Heart (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 2.103; EBBA 30571. Death – general; Religion – body/soul; Society –old/young; Emotions – fear; Bodies – looks/physique. A young man is approached by Death, and his pleas for additional time on earth are rejected out of hand.

The Chamberlain’s Tragedy: OR, The Cook-Maid’s Cruelty... Tune, Bleeding Heart (J. Deacon, 1671-99). Pepys 2.178; EBBA 20795. Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal; Emotions – anger, guilt, sorrow; Employment – apprenticeship/service; Gender – femininity, masculinity; Morality – general; Religion – sin/repentance, Christ/God; News – convicts/crimes, domestic; Places – English. This first describes the angry murder of a male servant (chamberlain) by a female servant (cook-maid) in a household in Andover, and then outlines the repentant spirit in which the murderer is facing death.

The wonder of wonders, or, the strange Birth in Hampshire... Tune of, My bleeding heart (J. Hose and E. Oliver, 1672-90). Wood E 25(104). Death – childbirth; Emotions – wonder, horror, anxiety; Bodies – looks/physique, health/sickness; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Environment – animals; Morality – general; Employment – female; Religion – divine intervention, Christ/God; Society – neighbours; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. A woman in Hampshire has reportedly died in childbed while giving birth to a toad, a winged serpent and a dead child.

[Title missing]. Being a sad and true Relation of the Apprehension, Tryal, Confession, Condemnation, and Execution of the two barbarous and bloody Murtherers... Tune is, Bleeding Heart (John Hose, 1675?). Pepys 2.144; EBBA 20762. Crime – murder, prison, punishment; Death – unlawful killing, execution; Violence – interpersonal; Employment – alehouses/inns; Gender – marriage; Morality – general; News – convicts/crimes; Religion – angels/devils, sin/repentance, moral rules; Society – friends, urban life; Places – English, travel/transport; Recreation – alcohol. A northern gentleman, on a visit to London, is cruelly murdered by two men following a dispute in a tavern, but fortunately the perpretrators have been been brought to justice and duly executed.

Inhumane, & Cruel Bloody News from Leeds in York-shire... The Tune is, The Bleeding Heart, &c. (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Wood E 25(102). Crime – murder, prison; Death – unlawful killing; Violence – interpersonal, domestic; Gender – adultery/cuckoldry; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Emotions – horror; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Religion – prayer, Christ/God, angels/devils; News – convicts/crimes; Places – English, travel/transport. In this song, a wicked man seduces the wife of a Londoner and persuades her to travel to Leeds with him, but when she becomes pregnant he kills and mutilates her.

Strange News from Stafford-shire; OR, A Dreadful Example of Divine Justice... Tune of, My Bleeding heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark, 1675-80). Wood E 25(125). Religion – divine intervention,angels/devils, prayer, Christ/God, clergy, sin/repentance; Crime – robbery/theft, punishment, false witness; Bodies – health/sickness; Disability – physical; Emotions – guilt; Morality – social/economic, general; News – domestic, sensational; Places – English. A young man steals a Bible, then denies the crime, asking God to cause his flesh to rot if he is lying – so God does exactly this, thereby stimulating a burst of late repentance.

The Worlds Wonder. Giving an Account of Two Old Men... Tune of, My Bleeding Heart (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1680-81).  Roxburghe 2.526-7; EBBA 31031.  News – international, sensational; Places – European; Religion – sin and repentance, prophecy, general; Morality – general; Society – criticism.  A report on two aged prophets who have appeared in Tolouse, urging repentance and prognosticating strange events.

The Suffolk Miracle... To the Tune of, My bleeding heart, &c. (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray and T. Passenger, 1680-81). Douce 2(207b). Death – heartbreak, grief; Emotions – love, despair; Religion – ghosts/spirits; Family – children/parents, courtship, kin; Morality – romantic/sexual, familial; Society - old/young; Environment – animals; Bodies – clothing; Places – English, travel/transport. A young man dies of grief after being separated from his sweetheart by her angry father, but he visits her as a ghost and temporarily reclaims her before she too dies.

A Looking-Glass for all Impenitent Sinners... To the Tune of, My bleeding heart (R. Kell, 1684-94). Pepys 2.71; EBBA 20695. Religion – sin/repentance, heaven/hell, blasphemy, charity, prayer, Christ/God, clergy, angels/devils; Morality – general; Crime – general; Recreation – alcohol; Emotions – anxiety. An urgent call to repentance, motivated by the sinful state in which England currently exists.


The tune was also used occasionally on white-letter ballads. See, for example: Britains sorrowful Lamentation, For the Loss of their Gracious QUEEN MARY (1695) and Great NEWS from SOUTHWARK (1695). The second of these was the first humorous song known to have been written to the melody, telling the story of an old miserable woman who reputedly left all her wealth to her cat. This might be understood as evidence of white-letter composers and consumers choosing to mock the supposedly unsophisticated but deeply serious content of the black-letter ballads listed above.

Christopher Marsh


Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, vol. 1 (1959), pp. 138-42.

Thomas Deloney, The pleasant Historie of John Whinchcomb, In his younguer yeares called Jack of Newbery (composed 1590s; 1626), F3r-G1v.

Hyder E. Rollins, An Analytical Index to the Ballad-Entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967).

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Devil with erection

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This woodcut appears to have been used sparingly but regularly, mainly during the period between 1660 and 1700. It could illustrate any text that featured the Devil, but it was also deployed on ballads of moral warning that did not mention him explicitly. A Warning to all lewd Livers is one such example. Here, the visual appearance of the Devil adds to the text by implying that a life of gaming and fornicating is not only immoral but diabolical. The fact that the woodcut appeared on songs in which the Devil actually did appear, often to claim the lives of humans in horrific circumstances, may have intensified its impact. There are other editions of A Warning to all lewd Livers that feature the image, but not all of them did so. Although only six examples are listed below, it seems that they reveal the existence of at least three different woodblocks, perhaps implying that the image was more popular – if that’s the word - than the surviving record allows us to know.

Songs and summaries:

A Warning to all lewd Livers (Fra. Grove, 1656-62). Roxburghe 3.262-3; EBBA 30976. Family – children and parents; Emotions – sorrow; Gender – sex; Recreation – games; Religion – morality; Crime – robbery;  Death – result of immorality.  The tale of a young man who wastes all his money on gaming and lewd women before dying miserably on a dung-hill (picture placement: he stands on the left, facing aggressively towards a gallant and woman with a fan).

A Looking-Glass for a Christian Family (no imprint, 1660-90?).  Roxburghe 2.283; EBBA 30740. Religion – moral rules, sin/repentance, heaven/hell, divine intervention; Morality – general; Family – children/parents; Society – criticism.  A call to repentance, emphasising the sinful state of the English nation (picture placement: he appears alongside a How-de-do-man).

Strange News from WESTMORELAND (E. Andrews, 1662-74). Euing 342; EBBA 32030.  News – sensational; Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing, result of immorality; Religion – angels/Devil, divine intervention; Morality – familial; Gender – marriage; Emotions – fear, wonder; Society – neighbours; Violence - interpersonal. A sinful man murders his wife and denies it, so justice is administered by a visiting angel and the Devil (picture placement: he appears alongside a How-de-do-man).

Dirty Dolls Farewel (J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684).  Pepys 3.233v; EBBA 21247.  Death – result of immorality; Religion – angels/devils; Employment – female/male; Gender – femininity; Morality – social/economic; News – sensational; Places – English; Violence -  diabolical.  A warning to all by the example of Dirty Doll, a disreputable practitioner of extortion, who was beaten during a visitation from the Devil and died of her injuries (picture placement: in an version of the woodcut, he appears beneath the title and alongside a woman who stands beside a vase of flowers).

THE DEVILS OAK: Or, H[i]s ram[b]le in Tempestous Night, where he happened to Discourse with men of several Callings, of his own Colour and Complexion (C. Bates, 1690-1716).  Pepys 4.364; EBBA 22028.  Religion – angels/devils; Employment – crafts/trades; Humour – extreme situations. The Devil takes shelter beneath an oak tree and becomes involved in somewhat cryptic conversations with passers-by who, for one reason or another, remind him of himself (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, in between a tree and a friar).

Ungrateful LEWIS, Who Fought against his Old Friend (P. Brooksby, J. Deacon, J. Blare, and J. Back, 1692).  Pepys 2.347; EBBA 20966.  Politics – celebration, foreign affairs, satire; Royalty – criticism; Humour – mockery, satire; Religion – angels/Devils, Catholic/Protestant; Violence – at sea, between states; Emotions – anger.  Louis XIV of France believes that the Devil, his old ally, has let him down by allowing his enemies to fire his fleet at sea, and he determines to take revenge (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, to the right of two soldiers and a battlefield covered in dead bodies).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

This song has sometimes been attributed to Martin Parker but it was actually by Laurence Price (see Song history). One indication of Price's authorship comes from the close textual link (noted in the Featured tune history) between this ballad and another of Price's titles, A Dreadful Relation, of the Cruel, Bloudy, and most Inhumane Massacre and Butchery, committed on the poor Protestants, in the Dominions of the Duke of Savoy (1655), which he wrote to accompany his pamphlet, Christian Calamities, on the same subject. The ballad was not 'signed' but its preamble was taken virtually word for word from Price's pamphlet. See Featured tune history for further songs set to the same (lost) tune.

Angela McShane

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A Warning to all lewd Livers./ By the Example of a disobedient Child, who riotously wasted and consumed/ his Fathers and Mothers goods, and also his own, among strumpets and/ other Lewd Livers, and after died most miserably on a Dung-hill.

To the Tune of, Sir Andrew Barton.

[We have not recorded this song because the tune is unknown]


MY bleeding heart with grief and care

Doth wish all young men to beware

That they no such like steps may tread

nor lead the life which I have lead.


My Father was a Gentleman

as many Gallants witnesse can

He had no sons but onely I

which made his gold and silver flye.


When as my Father had me sent

to sell his goods and take up rent

I did consume and waste the same

in drinking or unlawful game.


The Cards and Dice were my delight,

I haunted Taverns Day and Night

Lewd Women were my chiefest Joys

and my consorts were cut-purse boys.


Gods holy Word I dis=obey’d

I car’d not what the Preacher said

For quaffing cans of Ale and Beer,

was all the service I would hear.


Thus acting my ungracious part

I broke my aged fathers heart

When gashly death on him did seize

I thought my self in happy case.


What he had left I thought well got,

but now the shame falls to my lot

Five hundred pound in good red Gold,

for wine and beer I quickly sold.


Then was I prest to serve the King,

that might my name to honour bring

A Souldiers life I hold it base

and alwaies took it in disgrace.


And having thus consum’d my store,

I to my Mother went for more

Who sold and morgag’d all her land,

and put the mony in my hand.


And then with tears these words she said

thou knowest my Son thy fathers dead

No more is left but I and thee

therefore dear Son be good to mee.


If that thy love from me should fall

I have no friend on earth at all

Therefore good Son to me prove kind

and thou reward in heaven shalt finde.


Then on my bended knee fell I

desiring of the Lord on high

A shameful death might be his end

that would his Mother once offend.


All you that do no reckoning make

of swearing when your words you speak

Give ear to that which Ile you tell

lewd livers seldome dyed well


You disobedient children all

draw neer and listen to my fall.

Example take, repent in time

lest that your woes be like to mine


The second part to the same Tune.


YOu fathers deer and mothers kind,

bear you this lesson in your minde

Trust not too much a wicked Child,

for oft times men are so beguil’d.


When twigs are green you may them ply

but let them grow till they be dry

They will so stiffe and stubborn stand

you cannot bend them with your hand.


So I that ran a wicked race

and to amend had not the grace

Sixteen score pound in good red gold

[i]nto my hand my mother told


But in the compass of one year

I spent it all as may appear

And having left no means at all,

I unto robbing straight did fall


Then did I steal my mothers Rings,

her brass, her pewter, and such things,

The very bed whereon she lay

I like a villain stole away.


What ever I could get or take

I thereof straight would money make

My flinty heart did feel no grief,

to see my mother want relief.


At last she grew exceeding poor

and beg’d relief from door to door,

No Infidel nor Pagan vild

could bring to light so bad a child.


At last my mother lost her breath

as she constrained was by death

Who yeilds relief when friends grow scant

and easeth those that are in want


From place to place then was I tost

by every man and woman crost,

No harbour could I get whereby

I might at night in safe-guard lye


My dearest kinsfolks do me chide

my nearest friends mock and deride

Those that were my consorts of late

their love is turned into hate.


Those that have feasted many a time

and fed upon that which was mine

Despise at me a long the street

as if they should a Serpent meet.


Both Old and Young, both great and smal,

both rich and poor despise me all

No friend to take my part have I

but was constrain’d in field to lie.


In this my extream miserie,

my grief, and my necessitie

No creature gave for my relief

one peece of bread to ease my grief


But like a poor despised wretch

his latest gaspe that he did fetch

Was on a Dung=hil in the night

when as no creature was in sight.


But in the morning he was found

as cold as clay upon the ground

Thus was he born in shame to die

and end his daies in misery.


Take warning young men by this vice

learn to avoid both Cards and Dice

Lewd womens company forbear

they are a high-way unto care


All Parents whilst our babes be young

look to their waies in hand and tongue

Then wickednesse will not abound

but Grace in children may be found.


London. P[rin]ted for Fra. Grove on Snow-/hill, [en]tred according to Order.

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This ballad is included according to the criteria for List A (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

Shirburn ballads: not included.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675; and Thackeray, 1689 (as 'My Bleeding Heart').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: 1633.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 7

No. of extant copies: 7

New tune-titles generated: 'My bleeding heart' (24 ballads).

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases:  2 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V53165).

POINTS: 0 + 10 + 5 + 14 + 7 + 30 + 0 + 0 = 66

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This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

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