The Merchants Song (MacEdward Leach)

See also: The Merchants (Lehr/Best)

Attention Newfoundlanders,
come listen to my song,
Concerning how we're treated,
I won't delay you long;
Oh, how you are put under
I'll have you understand,
By the merchants and the government
right here in Newfoundland.

The merchants they don't worry
or neither do they care,
How hard you have to work and toil
your family for to rear;
For they do get their money
to lock up in their chest,
And set back in their office
and there to take a rest.

The time will soon be coming
when we will have to go,
Out on the stormy ocean where
many's the gale do blow,
To try to earn a living
by bitter frost and snow,
And then return in winter
when you're really on the dole.

When you are queued up in the fall
with not a bite to eat,
You'll first go to your merchant
and they'll make you retreat;
They'll say they cannot help you,
go home and get the dole,
And that'll mean a little more
to add amongst their gold.

Go to Matt Hollet's office
with hunger on your brow,
He'll look at you and say to you
I cannot help you now;
Go home and sell your cattle
for when that all is gone,
Come back into my office
and I'll see about a loan.

'Tis for Johnny Collins
he got a fluent speech,
You can easy hear him talking
when he's going out of reach;
But when you get near a ship's crew
you'll hear them all explain,
Oh, Johnny he's gone trouting
and tomorrow we'll have rain.

Besides the royal commissioners
there is the Canada gang,
The people they are all busy
in favour of the King;
But I am not in favour
or neither do I care,
I know what Henry did when
he married Anne Boleyn.

Then Herod took the collection
as the merchant names wrote down,
They say you'll never be in want
when clothing come around;
You would get rubber boots,
likewise caps and coats,
But the pair of mitts they sent to me
was wool cut from a goat.

There is a man above us,
I'm sure He's done no wrong,
He is too pure and holy
to mention in my song;
But I know someday He'll judge them,
and He will judge them weIl,
And send them all together
on their honeymoon to hell.

And to conclude and finish
I have no more to say,
I'm getting old and feeble
my locks are turning grey;
I'm getting old and feeble,
there's one thing I can say,
I never was a robber
when God calls me away,

####.... Paddy Dover from Marystown. Original Newfoundland song ....####

Collected in 1951 from Leo J Martin [1906-1985] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was collected as The Merchants in 1977 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #78 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.136-138, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that Mr Power learned this song from Mr Mickey Coombs of Fortune Bay while he was fishing in Clattice Harbour. The song was around in the 1930s and Mr Coombs said that old Mr Paddy Dover from Marystown had composed it.


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