Do as They Do in France
DESCRIPTION: The singer's step-mother told him as a child, "do as they do in France." Even now, when he needs shoes, or bread, she says "do as they do in France." A friend explains that means "do without." So he joins the navy. "Boys, do as Britons do"
AUTHOR: William Ball (source: Moylan)
EARLIEST DATE: "shortly after 1798" (according to Moylan)
KEYWORDS: France patriotic hardtimes poverty navy
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Moylan 21, "Do as They Do in France" (1 text)
NOTES [213 words]: The inference is that we should ignore those who would overthrow the king "as they do in France."
Moylan: Ball is a Dublin loyalist. "The tenor of all his songs is that of an ordinary Irish citizen, loyal to the established order." - BS
The comment that doing as they do in France meaning doing without is of course dead-on accurate: Marie-Antoinette's foolish "Let them eat cake" comment was in response to a report that the peasants had no bread (they had been taxed almost to death to pay for the American war), and the sans-culottes were not so called because they were rich!
In a sad irony, the Irish would eventually do as they did in France, in cutting their relations with the British monarch -- after which they followed the worst part of the French model: They killed their first real head of state, Michael Collins, and engaged in a civil war over who would rule the country and how.
William Ball was a writer of humorous verse about Irish history; in this index, see "Cockledemoy (The French Invasion)," "Do as They Do in France," "The Dying Rebel," "Faithless Boney (The Croppies' Complaint)" -- though he doesn't seem to have made much impression on the wider world of literature; I have been unable to find any of his writings in any of my literary references. - RBW
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.