Derry Down

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   The song, Derry Down, was an English tune which was included in Chappell's anthology titled, Popular Music Of The Olden Time. Although the author of the tune, and its exact date of origin are unknown, to have been included in Chappell's anthology implies that it was old by the 1770s.

   Certain sources, including Commager and Morris, in their masterwork, The Spirit Of 'Seventy-Six, claim that the song played at the surrender of the British forces at Yorktown in 1781 was The World Turned Upside Down, or The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, and that it was set to the tune of the English ballad Derry Down. The terms of capitulation included the stipulation that the British army play only an English or German song as the troops marched onto the field to surrender, which may be one reason for their choice.

   Prior to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the song was published with the lyrics which begin with the line: Goody Bull and her daughter together fell out. This version of the song appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1766.

Goody Bull and her daughter together fell out, Both squabbled and wrangled, and made a great rout,
But the cause of the quarrel remains to be told, Then lend both your ears, and a tale I'll unfold.
The old lady, it seems, took a freak in her head, That her daughter, grown woman, might earn her own bread;
Self-applauding her scheme, she was ready to dance; But we're often too sanguine in what we advance.
For mark the event; thus by fortune we're crossed, Nor should people reckon without their good host;
The daughter was sulky, and wouldn't come to And pray, what in this case could the old woman do?
In vain did the matron hold forth in the cause, That the young one was able; her duty, the laws;
Ingratitude vile, disobedience far worse; But she might e'en as well sung psalms to a horse.
Young, froward, and sullen, and vain of her beauty, She tartly replied, that she knew well her duty,
That other folks' children were kept by their friends, And that some folks loved people but for their own ends.
Zounds, neighbor! quoth Pitt, what the devil's the matter? A man cannot rest in his house for your clatter;
Alas! cries the daughter, here's dainty fine work, The old woman grown harder than a Jew or than Turk.
She be damned, says the farmer, and to her he goes, First roars in her ears, then tweaks her old nose,
Hallo, Goody, what ails you? Wake! woman I say; I am come to make peace, in this desperate fray.
Adzooks, ope thine eyes, what a pother is here! You've no right to compel her, you have not, I swear;
Be ruled by your friends, kneel down and ask pardon, You'd be sorry, I'm sure, should she walk Covent Garden.
Alas! Cries the old woman, and must I comply? But I'd rather submit than the huzzy should die;
Pooh, prithee be quiet, be friends and agree, You must surely be right, if you're guided by me.
Unwillingly awkward, the mother knelt down, While her absolute farmer went on with a frown,
Come, kiss the poor child, here come, kiss and be friends! There, kiss your poor daughter and make her amends.
No thanks to you mother; the daughter replied:
But thanks to my friend here, I've humbled your pride.

   In 1775, after the British Parliament had rejected the petition of the Colonies, and declared them to be in a state of rebellion, the following lines were also set to the Derry Down tune. And it will be noticed that the words "Derry Down" are included in these verses.

What a court hath old England, of folly and sin, Spite of Chatham and Camden, Barre, Burke, Wilkes and Glynn!
Not content with the game act, they tax fish and sea, And America drench with hot water and tea.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Lord Sandwich, he swears they are terrible cowards, Who can't be made brave by the blood of the Howards;
And to prove there is truth in America's fears, He conjures Sir Peter's ghost 'fore the peers.
Now, indeed, if these poor people's nerves are so weak, How cruel it is their destruction to seek!
Dr. Johnson's a proof, in the highest degree, His soul and his system were changed by tea.
But if the wise council of England doth think, They may be enslaved by the power of drink,
They're right to enforce it; but then, do you see? The Colonies, too, may refuse and be free.
There's no knowing where this opposition will stop; Some say - there's no cure but a capital chop;
And that I believe's each American's wish, Since you've drenched them with tea, and depriv'd 'em of fish.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Three Generals these mandates have borne 'cross the sea, To deprive 'em of fish and make 'em drink tea;
In turn, sure, these freemen will boldly agree, To give 'em a dance upon a Liberty Tree.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Then freedom's the word, both at home and abroad, And ------ every scabbard that hides a good sword!
Our forefathers gave us this freedom in hand, And we'll die in defence of the rights of the land.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

   (See later entry under the title, The World Turned Upside Down for additional information.)

   Note: The midi file linked to this page was sequenced by Mudcat Cafe, whose website is located at: