Hard Times of Old England, The
DESCRIPTION: Singer tells that the trade has gone; if you go to a shop without money, you can't buy. If you ask for a job, there is none; tradesmen walk the street looking for work; soldiers and sailors have come home to starve. He hopes the hard times will not last.
EARLIEST DATE: before 1820 (broadside, Bodleian, Harding B 17(321a))
KEYWORDS: poverty commerce unemployment work hardtimes starvation England worker
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Copper-ASongForEverySeason, pp. 204-205, "Hard Times of Old England" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 224, "The Hard Times of Old England" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bodleian, Harding B 17(321a), "The Tradesman's Complain" ("Draw near brother tradesmen, listen to my song ...") J. Pitts, London, 1802-1819
cf. "Rigs of the Time" (subject)
NOTES [125 words]: Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland seems to think that this song arose in the recession following a war, since sailors and soldiers were returning home to find no work. But the British military did not institute a true draft until World War I; the size of the military stayed relatively constant. And economic trouble was constant in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; the population was growing faster than the system could expand. So this could be just a song of falling standards of living.
However, the first known broadside, by Pitts, appeared around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, so Kennedy's guess appears pretty good (thanks to Abby Sale for pointing this out, and ultimately to Malcolm Douglas for figuring it out). - RBW
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