Henry's Songbook

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Paddy's Lamentation (By the Hush)

  • (Trad)

    Here's you boys, do take my advice
    To America I'd have you not be coming
    For there's nothing here but war
    Where the murdering cannons roar
    And I wish I was at home in dear old Erin

    And it's by the hush my boys, and that's to hold your noise
    And listen to poor Paddy's narration
    I was by hunger pressed and in poverty distressed
    So I took a thought I'd leave the Irish nation

    Well I sold my horse and plough, I sold my pig and cow
    And from that farm of land I parted
    And my sweetheart Biddy Magee oh I'm sure I'll never see
    For I left her on that morning broken-hearted

    Then myself and a hundred more to America sailed o'er
    Our fortunes to be making we were thinking
    When we landed in Yankeeland they shoved a gun intae our hand
    Saying, Paddy you must go and fight for Lincoln

    General Meagher to us said, If you get shot and lose your head
    Every mother's son of you will get a pension
    In the war I lost my leg, all I've now is a wooden peg
    By my soul it is the truth to you I mention

    Now I think myself in luck to be fed on Indian buck
    In old Ireland the country I delight in
    And with the devil I do say, Oh Christ curse America
    For I'm sure I've had enough of your hard fighting

    (as sung by Andy M. Stewart)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [19??:] This song I like very much on account of its honest expression. There are many ballads from this time dealing with emigration to America away from the hunger and deprivation of the famine that devastated Ireland in the 1840's. All of them extoll the praises of the 'Land of Liberty' where there was food and work for all and the 'tyrant landlords' did not exist. This is one of the few ballads that made its way back to Ireland telling a different story from the peace and prosperity which is talked about in other songs. The General Meagher referred to was General Thomas Francis Meagher otherwise known as 'Meagher of the sword' who led the 69th regiment in the American Civil War. The regiment so distinguished itself on the various battlefields that it earned the name of the 'Fighting 69th'. It was all but wiped out at the battle of Gettysburg, and its losses are commemorated by a Celtic cross on the actual battlefield.The title of the song is a corruption of an Irish phrase 'Bí i do thost' or 'be quiet' which in fact is translated in the first line of the song...By the hush me boys and that's to make no noise. (Frank Harte, notes 'Daybreak and a Candle-End')

  • [1989:] Exile songs seem to me to have been wrung from the very souls of their creators; the yearning of the exile for his homeland being perhaps the very essence of the emotion of sadness. Happily for the emigrant, he may not only have left behind his native land, but also the hunger and persecution that forced him overseas.

    In By the Hush the unfortunate man sells up and leaves his farm in famine-torn Ireland for a new life in America, only to find on arrival that he has been drafted into the army of President Lincoln, to fight in the Civil War. In one of the battles that follows, he is severely wounded and thus the song's chorus carries a chilling warning to anyone contemplating emigration to America. The song ends with [a] powerfully simple line. (Notes Andy M. Stewart, 'By the Hush')

  • [1995:] [A] stinging comment on emigration [that] reflected many Irish emigrants experiences in America when they arrived as the Civil War [1861-65] was in progress and were conscripted into the Army. (John O'Regan, Rock 'n' Reel 22, p 33)

  • [2000:] According to The Sailor's Magazine, the monthly publication of the American Seamen's Friend Society, 32,217 Irish and 27,740 German immigrants were landed at Port New York in 1863. During the Civil War, at Castle Gardens, New York, recruiting agents would offer the new arrivals cash bounties to sign up for the Northern effort. In this song our generic "Paddy" complains that he was not given the opportunity to accept or reject the recruiter's offer but in fact was pressed in to "Lincoln's army". This "out of the frying pan and into the fire" circumstance left poor Paddy with the desire to return to his depressed homeland - dear old Erin. [Ian Robb] collected it from Edith Fowke's book 'Traditional Songs and Singers from Ontario' (Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1965). (Notes Forebitter, 'Voyages')

  • [2000:] "Indian corn" was a type of Famine relief food shipped to Ireland from Amerikay which often caused more trouble than it seemed to be worth. People didn't know how it was to be cooked, and received no instructions with it. It was often served undercooked, which wreaked havoc on decimated human digestive systems already in severe crisis from malnourishment, disease, exposure, etc. So my guess is the line might be saying the singer thought it might have been a better plight to have stayed on in Ireland, even if it meant having to eat Indian corn to survive, than having been forced to "serve" in the American Civil War at gunpoint, just off the boat. (Janet Ryan,, 28 Sep)

    Probably rolled indian feed maize, 'hot' relative of sweetcorn - exactly the same as you will find today in animal feeds. It's dangerous stuff to use even with animals (sheep and goats mainly) because if you feed it neat, instead of with at least a 5:1 mixture of other foods, its overheats the digestive system - don't know exactly what this means or implies, but the result is a seriously swollen up animal. [...] It would need to be softened by overnight soaking rather like hard dried pulses, and cooked for a very long time. You probably need to soak it with lye, or vinegar, or something to help break it down. (David Kilpatrick,, 28 Sep)

    I've always interpreted [the reference to 'Indian buck'] as a nostalgia for Ireland, not for an American food. I think he's saying, in effect, "I'd count myself lucky to be back in Ireland even if I had to eat Indian buck." According to my beloved 10-volume "American Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia" of 1889, "buck" has been used in many, many, ways; one of them is a Cornish word for a fungus attacking stored corn (maize). "Indian" itself, as an adjective, was also used in many ways, one of them a shorthand reference to any food made with maize, which is, of course, an American vegetable. "Indian corn" was thus another name for maize, to distinguish it from the British "corn", which was wheat. So I've always thought of "Indian buck" as cornmeal mush, which was probably fed to General Meagher's "Irish Brigade", and "Indian buck" may have been a pretty local locution. (Sam Hinton,, 2 Oct)

    After the Civil War, veterans had difficulty in getting pensions. In fact, the special status of veterans in the U.S. dates to a movement which was started after the War by vets to get what they had been promised. In reading the song, I assume that By The Hush was written sometime within 10 years of the end of the War. (Dan Milner,, 13 Oct)


Quelle: Ireland / USA

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