1. “Papa, if you beat me I will go to enlist
On the side of the Bostonians to fight the English.”
To Boston he went: “How many men fired away?”
“Do you want to hire me as a warlike sergeant?”

2. “Yes, we’ll hire you if you’ll be a good boy.
We’re going to put you there at the head of the army.”
A sword at his side and a pistol in his hand
François marched ahead like a brave sergeant.

3. At the first volley his jawbone was broken.
François fell on his face: they shouted: “Hurray!”
But he raised himself up: “How many men fired away?”
It’s not necessary to stop for a wounded sergeant.

4. François wailed to his dear and good papa
That he had been wounded by a shot from a grenadier.
“Didn’t I tell you that you’d die by the gun?
Now there you are, pick yourself up as well as you can.”

The Sergeant obviously dates from the period of the American Revolution. French Canadians chose to remain under British rule, for the Quebec Act of 1774 had guaranteed them religious freedom and French civil law; but a few discontented individuals did make their way south to join Washington’s army and fight their traditional enemy. However, most French Canadians regarded such actions as foolish, and that attitude is reflected in this little song about a young fellow who, despite his father’s warnings, decides to run off to Boston to fight the English. He gets banged up in the war and comes home to Papa, who says, “I told you so!”

- Edith Fowke, Folklore of Canada, McClelland & Stewart, 1976, pp. 71, 74 - 75.

Edith Fowke
c. 1776
CANADA Atlantic Provinces, Atlantic Provinces, CANADA
© 1976, McClelland & Stewart. All Rights Reserved.

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