Arthur McBride

I had a first cousin called Arthur McBride
He and I took a stroll down by the by the sea side
A seeking good fortune and what might be tide
‘Twas just as the day was a dawning
After resting we both took a tramp
We met Sergeant Harper and Corporal Cramp
Besides the wee drummer who beat up for camp
With his rowdy dow dow in the morning

He says my young fellows if you will enlist
a guinea you quickly shall have in your fist
besides a crown for to kick up the dust
and drink the King’s health in the morning
Had we been such fools as to take the advance
The wee bit of morning we had to run chance
For you think it no scruple to send us to France
Where we would be killed in the morning

Ah now me bold sergeant we are not for sale
We’ll make no such bargain, your bribe won’t avail
We’re not tried of our country we don’t care to sail
Although that your offer is charming
And if we were such fools as to take the advance
This right bloody slander would be our poor chance
For the Queen wouldn’t scruple to send us to France
Where we would be shot with out warning

He says me young fellows if I hear but one word
I instantly now will out with my sword
And into your body as strength will afford
So now my gay devils take warning
But Arthur and I we took in the odds
We gave them no chance for to launch out their swords
Our whacking shillelaghs came over their heads
And paid them right smart in the morning

As for the wee drummer we rifled his pouch
And we made a foot- ball of his rowdy dow dow
And into the ocean to rock and to roll
And bade it a tedious returning
As for the old rapier that hung by his side
We flung it as far as we could in tide
To devil I pitch you says Arthur McBride
To temper your steel in the morning

———————————————
Paul Brady Version

Oh me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride
As we went a walkin’ down by the seaside
Now mark what followed and what did betide
It being on Christmas morning

Out for recreation we went on a tramp
And we met Sergeant Knacker and Corporal Cramp (or Vamp)
And a little wee drummer intending to camp
For the day being pleasant and charming

Good morning, good morning the sergeant did cry
And the same to you gentlemen, we did reply
Intending no harm but meant to pass by
For it being on Christmas morning

But says he my fine fellows if you will enlist
It’s ten guineas in gold I will slip in your fist
And a crown in the bargain for to kick up the dust
And to drink the King’s health in the morning

For a soldier he leads a very fine life
He always is blessed with a charming young wife
And he pays all his debts without sorrow or strife
And always lives happy and charming

And a soldier he always is decent and clean
In the finest of clothing he’s constantly seen
While other poor fellows go dirty and mean
And sup on thin gruel in the morning

Says Arthur, I wouldn’t be proud of your clothes
You’ve only the lend of them as I suppose
And you dare not change them one night or you know
If you do you’ll be flogged in the morning

And although we are single and free
We take great delight in our own company
And we have no desire strange places to see
Although your offer is charming

And we have no desire to take your advance
All hazards and danger we barter on chance
and you’d have no scruples to send us to France
Where we would be shot without warning

And now says the sergeant, I’ll have no such chat
And I neither will take it from spailpín or brat
For if you insult me with one other word
I’ll cut off your heads in the morning

And then Arthur and I we soon drew our hods?
And we scarce gave them time for to draw their own blades
When a trusty shillelagh came over their heads
And bade them take that as fair warning

As for their old rusty rapiers that hung by their sides
We flung it as far as we could in the tide
To the Devil I pitch you, says Arthur McBride
To temper your steel in the morning

As for the wee drummer, we rifled his pow
And made a football of his row-do-dow-dow
Into the tide to rock and to roll
And bade it a tedious returnin’

And we haven’t no money to pay them off in cracks
And we paid no respect to the two bloody backs
For we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks
And left them for dead in the morning

And so to conclude and to finish disputes
We obligingly asked if they wanted recruits
For we were the lads who would give them hard clouts
And bid them look sharp in the morning

Oh me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride
As we went a walkin’ down by the seaside
Now mark what followed and what did betide
It being on Christmas morning

Traditional

“Arthur McBride” (also called “Arthur McBride and the Sergeant”) is a folk song found in Ireland, Scotland and England with slight variations.

Reportedly, it was first collected around 1840 in Limerick by Patrick Weston Joyce; also in Donegal by George Petrie.

Planxty sang Arthur McBride in 1973 on their first album Planxty. Their sleeve note commented:

Arthur McBride is an anti-recruiting song from Donegal. This version was collected by P.W. Joyce in his native Co. Limerick in the early 19th century and printed by him in his collection.

Paul Brady is said to have sourced his version from a copy of book called, A Heritage of Songs, compiled by collector Carrie Grover.

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