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
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 in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best 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 Lehr and Best songs.


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Newfoundland And Labrador

(AD 1628 through 2020)


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