Why should we quarrel for riches

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WHY SHOULD WE QUARREL FOR RICHES. English, Irish; Air (9/8 time). G Major/E Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. O’Farrell (c. 1810) assigns an Irish provenance for this sailor’s song (Roud Broadside Index B139505), although a version appears earlier in Allan Ramsay’s (1684-1758) Tea-Table Miscellany (London, 1733). It proved popular and had longevity far into the next century, inspiring parodies and sequals; it was frequently anthologized. The first verse and chorus go:

How pleasant a sailor's life passes,
Who roams o'er the watery main!
No treasure he ever amasses,
But cheerfully spends all his gain.
We're strangers to party and faction,
To honour and honesty true;
And would not commit a bad action
For power or profit in view.

Chorus:
Then why should we quarrel for riches,
Or any such glittering toys;
A light heart, and a thin pair of breeches,
Will go through the world, my brave boys!

The tune was also entered into vol. 2 (p. 149) of the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper James Goodman.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Joyce (Old Irish Folk Muisc and Songs), 1909; No. 437, pp. 247 248. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. IV), c. 1810; p. 125.

Recorded sources:




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