The singer sees one of his shipmates "wrapped up in flannel yet colder than clay." He dies, and details of the burial are given. His headstone warns sailors, "Never go courting with the girls of the city; Flash girls in the city were the ruin of me."
One of the large group of ballads ("The Bard of Armagh," "Saint James Hospital," "The Streets of Laredo") ultimately derived from "The Unfortunate Rake." All use the same or similar tunes and meter, and all involve a person dying as a result of a wild life, but the nature of the tragedy varies according to local circumstances.
For the treatment of syphilis prior to the twentieth century, see the notes to "The Unfortunate Rake." - RBW