O Adam was a ploughboy, when ploughing first begun,
The next that did succeed him was Cain his eldest son;
Some of the generation this calling still pursue,
That bread may not be wanting, they labour at the plough.
Samson was the strongest man, and Solomon was wise,
And Alexander conquering, he made the world his prize,
King David was a valiant man, and many thousands slew,
Yet none of all these heroes bold could live without the plough.
Behold the wealthy merchant, that trades on foreign seas,
And brings home gold and treasure, for such as live at ease,
With spices and with cinnamon, and oranges also,
They're brought us from the Indies, by virtue of the plough.
I hope there's none offended at me for singing this,
For never I intended to sing you ought amiss.
And if you well consider, you'll find the saying true,
That all mankind dependeth upon the painful plough.
Words and melody from Roger Huggins, mason, Lydford.
Notes taken from Songs of the West by S. Baring-Gould.
It is in reality a much longer song.. Under the title of 'The Ploughboy's Glory' it runs to 25 verses. Bell gives 9 in his 'Ballads of the English Peasantry.' It is found on Broadsides. In the original it consists of a contention between a ploughman and a gardener as to which exercises the noblest profession. Our air is not the same as that to which the song is sung in the Midlands and south-east England . Dr Barrett gives the song in his 'English Folk Songs,' No 3, to a North Country air.
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six