Thursday, July 4, 2013

Excerpts from 1856 book: "Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution"

"Gallants attend, and hear a friend,
Trill forth harmonious ditty,
Strange things I'll tell, which late befell,
In Philadelphia city."

"Battle of the Kegs" by Francis Hopkinson
(sung to tune of "Yankee Doodle")

* * *

This edition of "Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution," by Frank Moore, was published in 1856 by D. Appleton & Company of New York. It contains the lyrics from 92 American Revolution songs, along with in-depth historical notes by Moore. (He was, like Papergreat, a big fan of footnotes.)

In the preface, Moore writes:
"This volume presents a selection from the numerous productions in verse, which appeared during the war of the American Revolution. Many of them are taken from the newspapers and periodical issues of the time; others from original ballad-sheets and broadsides; while some have been received from the recollections of a few surviving soldiers, who heard and sang them amid the trials of the camp and field.

"Nearly every company had its 'smart one' or poet, who beguiled the weariness of the encampment by his minstrelsy, grave or gay; and the imperfect fragments which survive to us, provoke our regret that so few of them have been preserved."

Here are a couple of songs from the 19th century volume:

The Pennsylvania Song1
We are the troop that ne'er will stoop,
To wretched slavery
Nor shall our seed, by our base deed
Despised vassals be;
Freedom we will bequeathe to them,
Or we will bravely die;
Our greatest foe, ere long shall know,
How much did Sandwich lie.
And all the world shall know,
Americans are free;
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove,
Great Britain soon shall see.

We'll not give up our birthright,
Our foes shall find us men;
As good as they, in any shape,
The British troops shall ken.
Huzza! brave boys, we'll beat them
On any hostile plain;
For freedom, wives, and children dear,
The battle we'll maintain.

What! can those British tyrants think,
Our fathers cross'd the main,
And savage foes, and dangers met,
To be enslav'd by them?
If so, they are mistaken,
For we will rather die;
And since they have become our foes,
Their forces we defy.
And all the world shall know,
Americans are free,
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove,
Great Britain soon shall see.

Virginia Banishing Tea2
Begone, pernicious, baneful tea,
With all Pandora's ills possessed,
Hyson, no more beguiled by thee
My noble sons shall be oppressed.

To Britain fly, where gold enslaves,
And venal men their birth-right sell;
Tell North and his bribed clan of knaves,
Their bloody acts were made in hell.

In Henry's reign those acts began,
Which sacred rules of justice broke
North now pursues the hellish plan,
To fix on us his slavish yoke.

But we oppose, and will be free,
This great good cause we will defend;
Nor bribe, nor Gage, nor North's decree,
Shall make us "at his feet to bend."

From Anglia's ancient sons we came;3
Those heroes who for freedom fought;
In freedom's cause we'll march; their fame,
By their example greatly taught.

Our king we love, but North we hate,
Nor will to him submission own;
If death's our doom, we'll brave our fate,
But pay allegiance to the throne.

Then rouse, my sons! from slavery free
Your suffering homes; from God's high wrath;
Gird on your steel; give liberty
To all who follow in our path.

1. Of "The Pennsylvania Song," Moore notes: "The author of this ballad is unknown. It appeared originally in the 'Poet's Corner' of Dunlap's Packet, as the 'Pennsylvania March,' to the tune of the Scots' song, 'I winna marry ony lad, but Sandy o'er the lea.'"
2. Of "Virginia Banishing Tea," Moore notes: "Many urgent appeals to the people of the different colonies were made after the destruction of the tea at Boston, calling upon them to abstain from the use of all imported commodities, and to confine themselves to the fragrant herbs and other productions of their own fields and forests. The following poetical one was written by a young lady, of whom all that is known is, that she was 'a native of Virginia, endowed with all the graces of a cultivated mind, pleasant external qualities, and a model of patriotism worthy the emulation of many more conspicuous.'"
3. Anglia is the medieval Latin name for England.

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