The Leather Bottel
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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According to Our National Songs by Alfred Miles, this tune dates back to the sixteenth century. It appears in the time of Charles II, but the use of bottel dates much earlier and was not in much use at that time. Copies of the song are in Wit and Drollery (1682). Whate'er we see, where'er we go,
Who wander daily to and fro;
The ships that on the sea do swim,
And all the things the land within,
Say what you will, do what you can,
Are for one end - the use of man:
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

Now, what do you say to these cans of wood?
Oh no! in faith, they cannot be good,
For if the bearer fall by the way,
Why, on the ground your liquor doth lay;
But had it been in a leather bottel,
Although he had fallen, all had been well.
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

Then, what do you say to these glasses fine?
Oh they shall have no praise of mine;
For if you chance to touch the brim
Down falls the glass and liquor therein;
But had it been in a leather bottel,
And the stopple in, all had been well.
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

Then what do you think of these black pots three?
If a man and his wife should not agree,
Why they'll tug and pull till their liquor doth spill;
In a leather bottel they may tug their fill,
And pull away till their arms do ache,
And yet their liquor no harm can take.
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

At noon the haymakers sit them down,
To drink from their bottels of nut-brown,
In summer, too, when the weather is warm,
A good full bottel will do them no harm.
Then the lads and the lasses begin to tattle,
But what would they do without this bottel?
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

And when the bottel at last grows old,
And will good liquor no longer hold,
Out of the side you may make a clout,
To men your shoes when they're worn out;
Or take and hang it up on a pin,
'Twill serve to put hinges and odd things in.
So, joy to him where'er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

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From Our National Songs
See Bibliography for full information.