In my search for South London folk songs, I came across this section of his 1921 novel Martin Conisby's Vengeance. The scene, which features a politically dubious battle aboard ship with a 'vile blackamor', includes what appears to be a sailors song about Deptford:
'presently I heard the scrape of a viol somewhere beyond the bulkheads that shut me in and therewith a voice that sang, the words very clear and distinct:
Oh, Moll she lives in Deptford town,
In Deptford town lives she;
Let maid be white or black or brown.
Still Moll's the lass for me;
Sweet Moll as lives in Deptford town,
Yo-ho, shipmates, for Deptford town,
Tis there as I would be.
With this singing I thought to hear the heavy thud of an unshod foot on the planking above my head, and setting my teeth I gripped my knife in sweating palm. now (and to my despair) came the singing again to drown all else, hearken how I would:
Come whistle, messmates all.
For a breeze, for a breeze
Come pipe up, messmates all, For a breeze.
When to Deptford town we've rolled
Wi' our pockets full o' gold;
Then our lasses we will hold
On our knees, on our knees.
In the dark was the sudden, thin complaint of a rusty and unwilling bolt, though if this were to my right or left, above or below me, I could not discover and my passionate listening was once more vain by reason of this accursed rant:
Who will not drink a glass,
Let him drown, let him drown;
Who will not drink a glass, Let him drown.
Who will not drink a glass
For to toast a pretty lass,
Is no more than fool and ass;
So let him drown, let him drown!
...Who will not kiss a maid
Let him hang, let him hang;
Who fears to kiss a maid, Let him hang.
Who will not kiss a maid
Who of woman is afraid,
Is no better than a shade;
So let him hang, let him hang!"