“John (George) Riley (I)”
A stranger urges a girl to forget her lover; she will not. He tells her that Riley had been aboard his ship, and that Riley had been killed in battle with the French. She is distressed; he reveals that he is Riley and will never again leave her
The theme of a lover coming in disguise and testing his love is ancient; there is a version in Ovid's Metamorphoses (VII.685 and following). Cephalus doubts Procris, and (disguised by the goddess Diana) comes to her and tries to get her to be unfaithful to him. She utterly rejects his advances.
In that case, however, the ending is not happy. Although they are reunited, and happy for a time, she eventually starts to doubt him (prompted perhaps by his earlier doubts?). She follows him as he goes hunting, and he -- hearing a rustling in the leaves -- kills her with a cast of his javelin.
Even older, of course, is the version in the Odyssey. - RBW
See the notes to "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32] for Mackenzie's discussion of Laws N36 as source for "The Mantle So Green" [Laws N38] and "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32].
[On April 12, 1782], Admiral George Brydges Rodney defeated the French Admiral the Count De Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes in the Caribbean and brought the captured French ships into Fort Royal. (source} Moylan; _George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney_ at the Wikipedia site). [See also Arthur Herman, _To Rule the Waves_, pp. 316-318; Herman notes that Rodney pioneered the attack from the leeward side, assuring that the French could not escape him by running; Herman also considers the battle to have re-established British naval dominance, which was not broken even in the Napoleonic Wars. - RBW]
Both Laws and Moylan make fight the battle between Rodney and De Grasse. Laws has Reiley serving on _Belflew_; Moylan makes it _Balflour_. Moylan notes "The Formidable was Admiral Rodney's own vessel. The Barfleur was the ship which captured de Grasse's flagship, the Ville de Paris." - BS
Brewster's version also mentions the Rodney/De Grasse battle; the ship in his text is the _Belle Flower_, though the date is April 10. Eddy has the date right; the ship is the _Belflew_. Cox also lists the _Belflew_ (and has the April 12 date); presumably their agreement was the basis for the name in Laws.
- cf. "The New-Slain Knight" [Child 263]
- cf. "The Banks of Brandywine" [Laws H28]
- cf. "The Blooming Bright Star of Belle Isle" [Laws H29]
- cf. "Willie and Mary (Mary and Willie; Little Mary; The Sailor's Bride)" [Laws N28]
- cf. "A Seaman and His Love (The Welcome Sailor)" [Laws N29]
- cf. "William Hall (The Brisk Young Farmer)" [Laws N30]
- cf. "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32]
- cf. "Lovely Nancy (I)" [Laws N33]
- cf. "Janie of the Moore" [Laws N34]
- cf. "The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor)" [Laws N35]
- cf. "John (George) Riley (II)" [Laws N37]
- cf. "The Mantle So Green" [Laws N38]
- cf. "MacDonald's Return to Glencoe (The Pride of Glencoe)" [Laws N39]
- cf. "The Banks of Claudy" [Laws N40]
- cf. "The Lady of the Lake (The Banks of Clyde II)" [Laws N41]
- cf. "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)" [Laws N42] (one of the most common of the ballads of this sort, often known as "John Riley")
- cf. "Blackbirds and Thrushes (I)"
- cf. "As Broad as I was Walking"
- cf. "Come All Ye False Lovers"
- cf. "Skerry's Blue-Eyed Jane"
- cf. "The Banks of the Clyde"
- cf. "The Banks of the Dee (II)"
- cf. "Lurgan Town (I)"
- cf. "The Banks of the Inverness"
- cf. "Cairn-o'-Mount"
- cf. "Drumallachie"
- cf. "Down by the Seaside" (part of plot, lyrics)
- cf. "Yon Green Valley" (lyrics)
- cf. "Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh"
- cf. "The Lass of Swansea Town (Swansea Barracks)"
- cf. "The Soldier's Return"
- cf. "Billy Ma Hone"
- cf. "Mary of Sweet Belfast Town"
- Laws N36, "John (George) Riley I"
- SharpAp 82, "George Reilly" (8 texts, 8 tunes)
- Brewster 39, "George Reilly" (1 text)
- Eddy 37, "George Riley" (2 texts, although Laws assigns only the A text to this ballad; the B text, which is fairly short, might go with this or N37)
- JHCox 95, "George Reilly" (1 text plus mention of 2 more; Laws's citations are far from clear, since he cites the same page reference under both N36 and N37, but Cox's printed text is clearly this piece; presumably he thinks one of the unprinted texts to be N37)
- Moylan 9, "George Reilly Who Fought at Port Royal Bay" (1 text, 1 tune)
- DT 592, JREILLY6
- Roud #267
- BI, LN36