Willie Williamson [Mantle so Green] SA1971.219.7
This is another Napoleonic ballad which Willie learned from his father. Over a hundred texts and performances of this broadsheet ballad have been recorded in many different countries, though only a few brief versions in Scotland – mostly from Scottish travellers. However, the National Library of Scotland’s website – The Word on the Street – has this to say about the ballad. “This is a version of a fairly well-known folk ballad. The narrator of much of the ballad is a young veteran of Waterloo who falls in love with Nancy, a woman in a green mantle. Nancy initially rejects him until she discovers that the narrator saw her lover die at Waterloo, and was given her lover’s gold ring. The narrator and Nancy eventually marry. Love influenced by coincidental or supernatural events like these was a common feature of the ballad tradition.” This explanation, however, does not quite equate with the course of events given out below. Roud no. 714
As I walked out one evening, one evening late in June
To view the green fields and the meadows in bloom,
There I beheld a fair maid she appeared like a queen
With her costly fine robes and her mantle of green.
I stood in amazement, I gazed with surprise;
For I thought she was an angel just fallen from the skies.
Her eyes they shone like diamonds her cheeks were like the rose;
She was one of those wonders that Nature does approve.
I stepped up unto her and this to her did say:
“If you will join in wedlock, love, it’s married we shall be;
I’ll dress you in fine raiments, you’ll appear like a queen
With your costly fine robes and your mantle of green”.
“Oh no my young and noble man, you must me excuse,
For I will wed with no man so you will be refused;
Through the green, green woods I’ll wander to shun a young man’s ways,
For the lad that I love dearly lies in faint Waterloo”.
“Oh well if you won’t marry me pray tell me your love’s name,
For I have been in battle and may have known the same”.
“Draw near to my garments, its splendid to be seen,
For his name is embroidered in my mantle of green”.
I drew a little nearer and this I did behold
My forename and surname in letters of bright gold.
The name of William Reilly appeared in my view.
“He was my gallant comrade in faint Waterloo.
We fought for the victory and the bullets loud did fly
And many a young and noble man on the battlefield did lie.
We fought for three days till the fourth afternoon;
I received his dead summons on the 19th of June.
And as he lay dying these words I heard him say:
“If she’d been standing by me how happy would I die”.
“Oh since she’s gone and left me, no other one I’ll take,
But to lounge in groves and valleys I will wander for his sake”.
Oh William being stunned no longer could he stand
“Oh Nancy, lovely Nancy, its I that’s on your hand
All in your father’s garden beneath yon shady trees
Where I rolled you in my arms in your mantle of green”.
This couple they got married, we heard people say
And they had grand attendance on their wedding day
Now peace is proclaimed and the wars they are o’er,
You’re welcome to my arms again sweet Nancy once more.