Notes and Queries, Number 47, September 21, 1850 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 52 pages of information about Notes and Queries, Number 47, September 21, 1850.


Old songs.

I heard, “in other days,” a father singing a comic old song to one of his children, who was sitting on his knee.  This was in Yorkshire:  and yet it could hardly be a Yorkshire song, as the scene was laid in another county.  It commenced with—­

  “Randle O’Shay has sold his mare
  For nineteen groats at Warrin’ton fair,”

and goes on to show how the simpleton was cheated out of his money.

I find in Hasted’s History of Kent (vol. i. p. 468., 2nd edit.) mention made of the family of Shaw, who held the manor of Eltham, &c., and who “derive themselves from the county palatine of Chester.”  It is further stated that Randal de Shaw, his son, was settled at Haslington Hall in that county.

All, indeed, that this proves is, the probability of the hero of the song being also a native of Cheshire, or one of the adjacent counties; and that the legend is a truth, even as to names as well as general facts.  The song is worthy of recovery and preservation, as a remnant of English character and manners; and I have only referred to Hasted to point out the probable district in which it will be found.

There are many other characteristics of the manners of the humbler classes to be found in songs that had great local popularity within the period of living memory; for instance, the Wednesbury Cocking amongst the colliers of Staffordshire and Rotherham Status amongst the cutlers of Sheffield.  Their language, it is true, is not always very delicate—­perhaps was not even at the time these songs were composed,—­as they picture rather the exuberant freaks of a half-civilised people than the better phases of their character.  Yet even these form “part and parcel” of the history of “the true-born Englishman.”

One song more may be noticed here:—­the rigmarole, snatches of which probably most of us have heard, which contains an immense number of mere truisms having no connexion with each others, and no bond of union but the metrical form in which their juxtaposition is effected, and the rhyme, which is kept up very well throughout, though sometimes by the introduction of a nonsense line.  Who does not remember—­

  “A yard of pudding’s not an ell,”


  “Not forgetting dytherum di,
  A tailor’s goose can never fly,”

and other like parts?

It is just such a piece of burlesque as Swift might have written:  but many circumstances lead me to think it must be much older.  Has it ever been printed? {258}

There is another old (indeed an evidently very ancient) song, which I do not remember to have seen in print, or even referred to in print.  None of the books into which I have looked, from deeming them likely to contain it, make the least reference to this song.  I have heard it in one of the midland counties, and in one of the western, both many years ago; but I have not heard it in London or any of the metropolitan districts.  The song begins thus:—­

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Notes and Queries, Number 47, September 21, 1850 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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