Archive for April, 2010

Songs Showing Early Resentment of Taxation

Posted on: April 1st, 2010 by hauleymusic No Comments

In 1765 we begin to find references to the colonies’ resentment of their treatment by England. One of the earliest was a ballad called American Taxation, written soon after the ship Edward arrived in New York bearing news of the passage of the Stamp Act.

In 1767, the year of the Townshend Acts, which laid duties on important commodities for the support of a British army in America, and of the law suspending the New York Assembly, an anonymous poet contributed to the Gentleman’s Magazine a poem entitled The World Turned Upside Down, or The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, intended as “an humble attempt to reconcile the parent and her children, made by a peace-maker to Great Britain and her Colonies,” an entirely different poem than the English verses with the same title. Later, when the words were printed on a music sheet, they were adapted to the English tune, Derry Down. Chappell, in Popular Music of the Olden Time, gives this version:

Goody Bull and her daughter together fell out,
Both squabbled and wrangled, and made a – 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.

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.

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.