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Arthur McBride

  • Trad
  • I once knew a fellow called Arthur McBride
    And his pleasure was walking down by the seaside
    A-walking, a-talking, a-viewing the tide
    If the weather was pleasant and charming
    So gay and so gallant we went on a tramp
    We met Sergeant Harper and Corporal Cramp
    And the bonnie little drummer who roused up the camp
    With his rowdedowdow in the morning

    What ho, my good fellows, the sergeant did cry
    The same to you, sergeant, we made to reply
    There was nothing more said and we made to pass by
    All on that bright summer's morning
    What ho, my good fellows, if you would enlist
    Ten guineas in gold I would slap in your fist
    And a crown in the bargain to kick up the dust
    And to drink the King's health in the morning

    Oh no my good sergeant, we are not for sale
    Though we're fond of our country your bribes won't avail
    Though we're fond of our country we care not to sail
    For we are the boys of the morning
    If you would insult me without any word
    I swear by my king I would draw my broad sword
    And I'd run through your body as strength me afford
    Ere you could breathe out the morning

    We laid the little drummer as flat as a shoe
    We made a football of his rowdedowdoo
    The sergeant, the corporal, we knocked out the two
    For we were the boys of the morning
    And as for the weapons that hung by their side
    We flung them as far as we could in the tide
    And the devil go with you, says Arthur McBride
    For spoiling our walk in the morning

(as sung by Martin Carthy)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • english [1909:] Learned in boyhood - air & words - from hearing the people all round me sing it. The words have never been published: but I have a dim recollection of seeing them in early days printed on a ballad-sheet. There is a setting of the air (different from mine) in Stanford-Petrie, and marked there (by Petrie) as from Donegal. Coupling this record with the phraseology, I am disposed to think that the whole song belongs to Donegal. But how it made its way to Limerick [Joyce's hometown] is more than I can tell. (P. W. Joyce, 'Old Irish Folk Music and Song')

  • english  [1967:] By no means all country workers were credulous bumpkins, as Arthur McBride shows, that most good-natured, mettlesome, and un-pacifistic of anti-militarist songs. It has been a remarkably widespread and well-favoured piece. Patrick Joyce learnt it in Limerick during his boyhood in the early 1840s, and around the same time George Petrie received a version from a Donegal correspondent. Sam Fone [...] remembered it as his father's favourite in Devon in the 1830s, and he sang a good set of it to Baring-Gould in 1893. The song had made its way to the Scottish north-east during the latter half of the century, and Gavin Greig recorded a version, 'Scotticized to some extent', from Alexander Robb, his school caretaker at New Deer, Aberdeenshire. More recently, a singer from Walberswick, Suffolk, recorded it for the BBC early in 1939. [...]

    Throughout the whole period from the Restoration to the accession of Victoria - that is, during the liveliest time of folk song creation - the discipline of army and navy was brutal and callous, ruled by the lash. [...]

    Desperate recruitment, barbarous treatment, low pay (fixed after the Restoration at eightpence a day for foot soldiers, and so it remained for 123 years regardless of the raised cost of living). [...] (Lloyd, England 239ff)

  • english  [1969:] I have always assumed that this highly subversive song was from East Anglia, but in fact I don't know. It is probably 18th century in origin and I learned it from Redd Sullivan. (Notes Martin Carthy, 'Prince Heathen')

  • english [ 1976:] After the landlord's agent, probably one of the most hated persons in Ireland was the recruiting sergeant. The Irish peasant, destitute of worldly possessions and ground down by poverty, was forced of necessity to fight for a power which he despised. The balladmaker, being aware of this, was not slow to express his feelings in some of his most vicious ballads, always with a sarcastic edge. The earlier ballads such as this one, Mrs McGrath, The Kerry Recruit and Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, set the tone for the later anti-recruiting songs such as Sergeant William Bailey and The Tipperary Recruiting Sergeant, written during the 1914-18 war, when England was attempting to enforce conscription in Ireland. The sarcasm of the song cannot hide the terrible conditions under which soldiers were forced to serve after they had accepted the shilling, and Arthur's words "I would not be proud of your clothes ...", are only too true, when one considers that twenty-five lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails was the minimum punishment and a staggering 1500, the legal maximum. All this for eightpence a day. The song was collected in Limerick by P.W. Joyce about 1840. On account of its phraseology, he was disposed to think that it came from Donegal. The version sung here by Paul is one which he heard in America. (Frank Harte, notes 'Andy Irvine & Paul Brady')

  • english  [1977:] The reference to 'a shilling a day' [not in the above versions] must date the song to the nineteenth century, but it has all the economy and directness of the older traditional ballads. [...] The song presumably originated in Ireland, but it was also known in England and Scotland. Our version [close to all the above, but with Arthur McBride the name of the recruiting sergeant] is from the north-east of Scotland, where it was taken by migrant harvesters from Ireland, and became a favourite in the farm bothies. (Palmer, Soldier 56f)

  • english  [1988:] This famous song would appear to me to have originated in Donegal or in Scotland. Its popularity was such that it travelled to England and America [...]. The recruiting sergeant and his party must have been a curse to the common people of Ireland at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, especially as most of them would have had more sympathy with Napoleon than with the British. (Andy Irvine, Aiming for the Heart 13)

See also
Arthur McBride
Planxty's Arthur McBride
Paul Brady's version
Paul Brady \ Arthur McBride
Bodleian Library

Quelle: Ireland ? England ?

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01.04.2003, aktualisiert am 02.04.2010, 17.04.2009