Betsy said this song is a sad song with a happy melody.
It is probably a song that is more well known than some from the era, but I am not sure that people know the full story that it tells.
There are several things about this song that would be different if it were written today. For one thing, the girl would not be dressed like a man in the last verse — her femininity would be accented in the last verse instead.
One of the things I always liked about the song growing up is the way the song had swing — like the trapeze it was singing about. I don’t think I paid much attention to the courting aspect of the lyrics until much later.
Once I was happy, but now I’m forlorn,
Like an old coat, that is tatter’d and torn;
Left on this wide world to fret and to mourn,
Betray’d by a maid in her teens.
The girl that I lov’d, she was handsome,
I tried all I knew, her to please,
But I could not please her one quarter so well,
Like that man upon the Trapeze.
He’d fly thro’ the air with the greatest of ease,
A daring young man on the flying Trapeze;
His movements were graceful, all girls he could please,
And my love he purloin’d away.
This young man by name was “Signor Boma’ Slang”;
Tall, big and handsome as well made as Chang;
Where’er he appeared, thet hall loudly rang
With ovation from all people there
He’d smile from the bar on the people below,
And one night he smil’d on my love’
She wink’d back at him, and she shouted “Bravo!”
As he hung by his nose up above”
Her father and mother were both on my side,
And very hard tried to make her my own bride;
Her father he sighed, and her mother she cried,
To see her throw herself away,
‘Twas all no avail, she went there every night,
And would throw him boquets on the stage,
Which caus’d him to meet her; how he ran me down,
To tell, you would take a whole page.
One night I as usual, went to her dear home,
Found there her father and mother alone;
I ask’d for my love, and soon they made known,
To my horror, that she’d run away!
She’d pack’d up her box, and eloped in the night
Witdh him, with the greatest of ease;
From two storys high, he had lowered her down
To the ground on his flying Trapeze!
Some months after this I went to a Hall;
Was greatly surprised to see on the wall
A bill in red letters, which did my heart gall,
That she was appearing with him:
He taught her gymnastics, and dressed her in tights,
To help him to live at his ease,
And made her assume a masculine name,
And now she goes on the Trapeze!
She floats thro’ the air with the greatest of ease,
You’d think her a man on the flying Trapeze;
She does all the work, while he takes his ease,
And that’s what’s become of my love.