DESCRIPTION: Billy squandered his parents' riches but is happier than ever. "Light heart & thin pair of Breeches, goes through the world merrely my boys." Riches and responsibilities bring problems. Poor now, "I am as full of content as ever I was since I was born"
EARLIEST DATE: 1795 (_Vocal Music_, vol. III, according to Ebsworth)
KEYWORDS: poverty commerce money humorous
REFERENCES (1 citation):
ADDITIONAL: Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, editor, The Roxburghe Ballads: Illustrating the Last Years of the Stuarts (Hertford, 1891 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), Vol. VII part II, p. 520, "[Careless Billy] The Frolicksome Spark" (1 text) [Roxburghe III. 756]
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 1493, "Careless Billy" ("Ye frolick-some sparks of game, ye being both wretched and old"), D. Wrighton (Birmingham), 1812-1830
NOTES: Ebsworth: "A modern paraphrase of 'Careless Billy,' includes certain lines ...:-- 'And when the rats nibble my toes, as I sit alone by the bare shelf. I don't drive 'em off, 'cause I knows -- What it is to be hungry myself' This half-chorus had never belonged to the original song, which must have preceded 1773 ...."
Baring-Gould: The chorus "Then why should we quarrel for riches, Or any such glitterring toys? A light heart and a thin pair of breeches, Go through the world, brave boys!" predates the Vocal Music text; it 'belongs to a much earlier song that is in 'Perseus and Andromeda,' which was acted at Drury Lane in 1728" (source: S. Baring-Gould, English Minstrelsie (Edinburgh, 1896 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. VI, pp. 108-109, xi-xii, "Adieu to Old England" (1 text, 1 tune)).
For a more on Baring-Gould's discussion of his text of "Adieu to Old England" and this text see "Adieu to Old England." - BS
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