The Merchants (Lehr and Best)
See also: The Merchants Song (MacEdward Leach)

I hope now that you'll pay attention
And listen awhile unto me,
'Tis I will relate a few verses
The truth unto you I'll say.

It's all about the way we're treated
It's cruel for me to express -
My heart it is filled with great sorrow
But really I will do my best.

It's all about the cruel rogues of merchants
No pity or love do they show,
They don't pity poor distressed cripples
Or widows or orphans also.

They don't pity us weary fellows
(That) are out on the ocean so grey,
In all sorts of storms and great dangers
Through toiling by night and by day.

When the black clouds is rising to wind'ard
And tells us the storm is at hand,
Those rogues they are at home on their pillows
Their darlings they have close at hand.

They'll kiss them,
they'll squeeze those poor creatures
And this to their wives they will say:
'I have to have eggs for my breakfast
New milk I will drink in my tea.'

It's then they'll prepare for their office
Black figures and strokes they will make;
'I'm now going to pay for my breakfast
While the lads are out trawling at sea.'

O, now they are down in their office
All luxury around them do shine,
They don't pity poor distracted people
They haven't got that in their mind.

When the gale it is rising to a tempest
The thunder roars loudly on high,
And the white caps do cover the water
With rain pealing down from the sky.

It's then they will reef down their canvas
Their dories they got to take in -
The men that got poor leaky oil-clothes
They're dripping wet through to the skin.

When the ice it do cover all water
And the mountains is covered in snow -
When the poor rises up in the morning
With the wolf standing close to the door.

His head it is aching with sorrow
His bosom is swelling with grief -
'Tis then he'll apply to the merchant
To see if he'll grant him relief.

The answer you'll get is a poor one
And this unto you they will say:
'You better see some of your members
Perhaps they'll relieve you today.'

Their hearts is as cold as an iceberg
That freezes in the March wintertime,
As the cold snow blows over the mountains
By the strength of the north winter wind.

You'll think on the great sad disaster
'Twas the loss of the great Florizel,
She brought rich and poor their last sentence
And God only knows where they dwell.

There's widows and orphans to mourn
There's hundreds was left in distress,
But some they were got by good divers
And some they were never got yet.

And also the great ship Titanic
'Twas built for all danger to brave,
But God found a way and they lost her -
She sleeps in a watery grave.

You think on the time that is coming
My dear friends, we'll all have to go,
To be buried out in the wide ocean
Or somewhere in clay, we don't know.

And when they are on their death pillow
With death standing close to their side,
Their friends they will gather around them
But still it won't keep them alive.

Great sums they will pay for their parting
A little more longer to stay,
You have to obey your last sentence
You're called and you must go today.

For you there's a place in the churchyard
The size of your coffin to lie,
Where you won't drive no horses or carriage
Or neither show up your great pride.

Your honour it will never save you
Or neither your bright shiny gold.
You pity distracted people
And don't let your heart grow so cold!

####.... Paddy Dover, Marystown, NL (see note below) ....####
Collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1977 from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, 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.

See more songs by Lehr and Best


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