Once I could ride in my coach with horses to draw me along,
but now I am stirrup and stirrup so strong and in irons and chains I am bound.
Here's adieu to Old England adieu, and adieu to some hundreds of pounds -
if the world had been ended before I was born my troubles I never should know.
Once I could eat of the best, the bestest of the brown bread,
but now I am glad for the hard mouldy crust and glad I could get it to eat.
Once I could drink of the best, the bestest of ale so brown,
but now I am glad of a cup of spring water that runneth from town to town.
Oh once I could lie on my bed; my bed was the softest of down,
but now I am glad of a lock of chair straw to keep me up from the cold ground.
Cecil Sharp collected this from Charles Ash of Crowcombe, North Somerset on 16 September 1908. Mr Ash was 63. It was printed in Maud Karpeles (ed), Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs
. Oxford University Press, 1974. II, 137-8. The version printed here is derived from the Cecil Sharp version, via at least one person.
In 1962 a slightly different version was published (without a tune) by James Reeves in "The Idiom of the people." This second version was collected in 1907 from Jacob Giblett, aged 77, of Westhay, Somerset. This second version has the following lyrics.
Adieu to Old England, adieu and adieu
and adieu to some hundreds of pounds
If the world had been ended before I was born
my sorrow I'd never have known.
Once I could drink of the best -
the very best brandy and rum,
but now I am glad of a cup of spring water
that flows from town to town.
Once I could eat of good bread,
good bread that was made with good wheat -
now I am glad of a hard moulded crust
and glad that I get it to eat.
Once I could lie on a good bed,
a good bed that was made of soft down -
but now I am glad of a clot of clean straw
to keep myself from the cold ground.
Once I could ride in my carriage
with servants to drive me along -
now I'm in prison in prison so strong
not knowing which way to turn.
(Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
(thematic) Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries