Ragged Coat (MacEdward Leach)

Oh, what a world of flummery,
there's nothing but deceit in ye,
As you will find through life,
as you travel on,
Old and young, rich and poor,
everyone you'll meet in it,
It is the same, I will maintain,
and prove it in my song;
When I was poor, I found that
friends seldom e'er did heed me,
Till a rich man died, and left me cash,
which set me off afloat;
And then I had money,
but I kept it quite a secret,
And to fathom out deception,
I put on a ragged coat.

I thought my friends I would go see,
as I had so many,
At least as they professed to be
-- at Brooklyn, Mr Ford --
And as a trip by steamboat
would be as cheap as any,
I went down to the ferryboat,
and quickly stepped on board;
When heard a silly puppy say,
but lowly he did breathe it,
"It's a shame to let a ragged man
on board of a steamboat,"
And, says l, you foolish rascal,
there's a good heart beats beneath it,
Don' t despise a man
because he wears a ragged coat.

My journey being ended,
I placed my foot on shore,
Glad enough I was of such a crew
to get relief,
I went to the house,
and I knocked on the door, sir,
The people all kept eyeing me,
as though I was a thief;
The door was banged against my face,
with many a snarl, sir,
When I shouted out, Good Mister Ford,
I came to pay a note,
I beg your pardon, sir, says he,
come step into the parlour,
We thought you were a-begging
when we saw your ragged coat.

A chair was quickly placed for me,
and down I sat in centre,
You have came from town, you must be tired,
pray stop here a night,
Oh, Jane, bring the glasses,
and likewise the decanter,
It's there you will find
it's most excellent port wine;
Your wine you may keep,
though I've got this ragged dress on,
I beg your pardon, sir, he said,
I meant to keep my note,
And put it to a better use,
so let this be a warning,
Never despise a man
because he wears a ragged coat.

Next I went a courting
a brisk young widow Mercer,
I went to the house
and boldly I proposed,
My suit I pressed, but she exclaimed,
"Show this knave the door," sir,
At the sight of my old ragged dress,
she soon turned up her nose;
But when I showed my bag of gold,
she fain would be a talker,
At the sight of my money
she quickly changed her note,
And says I, I'm off, dear madam,
it's time my name was Walker,
Never despise a man
because he wears a ragged coat.

Never trust to appearances,
they oft times will deceive you,
For 'tis not the gaudy peacock
that turns out the most faithful bird,
It's not your wealthy relatives
stands power to relieve you,
Trust not those who raise their nose,
the thought is quite absurd,
When some of those deceitful friends,
our country has a clearance,
The lifetime says many a barrel
once more will proudly float,
So mark my moral well,
don't trust to one's appearance,
For there's many an honest heart
that beats beneath a ragged coat.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of an American traditional, The Ragged Coat from John Ashton's Modern Street Ballads, with material from the first half of the 19th-century. Also a variant of The Ragged Coat published as #102 in Folk Songs Of The Catskills (collected between 1932 and 1960) edited, annotated, and published by Norman Cazden [1914-1980], Herbert Haufrecht [1909-1998], and Norman Studer [1902-1978] (State University of New York Press, Albany, 1982) ....####

This variant collected in 1951 from John Connors [1890-1971] of Placentia, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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