Adieu to Old England
DESCRIPTION: If the world had ended before he was born the singer's sorrows "would then have had bounds." He was born wealthy but spent it all. He has no fear of being robbed. He's satisfied now with a crust, clean water, and a dry straw bed. Things can't get worse.
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (Baring-Gould)
KEYWORDS: poverty money drink food hardtimes
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Reeves-Sharp 1, "Adieu to Old England" (1 text)
Greig #115, p. 3, ("Once I had a feather bed") (1 fragment)
GreigDuncan6 1083, "Once I Had a Feather Bed" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: 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)
NOTES: I have moved the GreigDuncan6/Greig fragment here, agreeing with Roud that this is where it belongs, though the Greig singer has not yet reconciled himself to his lot: he is not a "careless Billy.." Here is the Greig fragment: "Once I had a feather bed And curtains a' roon But noo I have tae lie upon A chaff shakie doon [bed stuffed with chaff]." The closest lines in Reeves-Sharp are "Once I could lie on a good bed, A good bed that was made of soft down Now I am glad of a clot of clean straw To keep myself from the cold ground."
Baring-Gould's entry is based on a song indexed here as "Careless Billy." He begins with "Careless Billy" and then notes: "There is a song I have come upon repeatedly, for the last ten years, as a folk-ballad in the West of England, that goes over the same ground as ['Careless Billy'], but has more verses, and the chorus, 'Adieu to Old England, adieu,' .... The folk-chorus, 'Adieu to Old England, adieu,' will perhaps be more acceptable than that which insists on a 'Thin pair of breeches;' and the folk-melody of the chorus is also good, and better than a mere repetition." So, Baring-Gould has some verses from "Careless Billy," and some verses -- including the "good bed" verse -- chorus and tune from what Reeves-Sharp calls "Adieu to Old England." - BS
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