15. Morgan Rattler

         No 15
Morgan Rattler

This song was sung in Clare Market, and at the Holborn
End of Fleet Market. I have long since forgotten the Words

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Morgan Rattler was one of the most notorious songs of the late eighteenth century, it's referenced frequently, but the words have remained elusive. Place's claim that he has "long since forgotten the words" may have been sincere, although possibly it was a little disingenuous, and he felt they were too crude to be recorded. Mr Haywood in his notes remembers the chorus as “First he niggled her, then she tiggled her, / Then with his two balls he began to batter her / At every thrust I thought she’d bust / With the terrible size of his Morgan Rattler.”

A ballad called "Morgan Rattler" was printed in the songster Paddy O’Rafferty (Limerick: Printed By W Goggin, 1790[?]). This does not have the lines that Haywood recorded, though the form has similarities.

Morgan Rattler

I’m a Jolly blade, a weaver by trade
Among the young girls I’m a noted frolicker,
At every wake the young girls do speak
Here comes the young blade they call Morgan Ratler.

He sings on his loom like a thrush in the bloom
At night with the girls he still is a flatterer,
They never seem coy, but tremble for joy,
When they get a taste of his Morgan Ratler.

It's late in the night I met my delight;
Brought her down street and gave her a bottle,
She never did frown when I laid her down,
I danc’d her a jig call’d Morgan Rattler.

Upon the highway I met a fair maid,
Laid her down and began to flatter her,
She bid me be quicker, I advanced with my tricker
And stormed her town with my Morgan Ratler.

The brag of the spinet and lark and the linnet
Of fiddle and pipes they are always a talking,
No music so rare could ever compare,
To the corrol and bells of sweet Morgan Rattler.

As for yellow Joan I declare it by oath,
She lives next door to Polly the prattler,
At night in the dark when she meets Paddy Clarke,
She hold up her skin to his Morgan Rattler.

I brought her straight into a brandy shop.
I thought in my heart that a sup would soften her,
She did not seem shy, but held up her thigh,
Till he bellowst her up with his Morgan Rattler,

With Edmond Burke Poll swore she would work
And in come Biddy and swore he would tatter her
Under the eve of his house as snug as a mouse,
Where he gave her the length of his Morgan Rattler.

Nancy M’Avoy is all the whole joy
‘Tis of her gifts the always are prattling,
Let them never care, but to me repair,
And I’ll soon let them know I have Morgan Ratler

At Sunday’s Well it is known very well,
Round the ground the boys do flatter them,
The Pig under the Pot is quite forgot,
And all the delight is in Morgan Rattler.

I have now got a wife, the joy of my life,
At night in my hammock we sport and we frolic,
In her lottery book I wrote it for truth,
That the joy of her heart was my Morgan Rattler.

In Mr Haywood's Account appended to Place's manuscript , Haywood records a song which he describes as "a parody" of Morgan Rattler, he records 4 verses, and says it "had an immense run for a long time". The verses he records are similar to a song that was printed both as a broadside ballad (Madden, Reel 2 Frame 1539) and as sheet music (see "A Collection of Favorite Songs Sung at the Beef Steak Club and the Anacreontic Society" Bodleian Harding Mus E 516), which is called "Morgan Rat[t]ler, Or Darby O'Golicker." This begins

Great Boasting of late I've heard of a feat 
Of a comical blade call'd Morgan Rattler 
But one's come to town will soon cut him down,
And he goes by the name of Darby O'Golicker.

Another song, printed in the Universal Songster Or Museum of Mirth and credited to "Hudson", begins:

Oh, the lasses o'Lunnon be sad wicked jades,
All manner o'tricks, by gosh, they be up to 'em,
And for cheating poor lads like o'I is their trades,
And 'twould puzzle the old one to put a good stop to 'em

Some of the confusion around this song can be resolved when you realize that the song almost certainly began as a fiddle tune -- and indeed remains popular among traditional fiddle players in England and Ireland. It was first printed by James Aird in his Selection of Irish, English and Foreign Airs, (vol. 3, 1788), and is very common in the tunebooks from the 1790s-1820s, including, for example, those of the poet John Clare (see Deacon). The sheet music for "Great Boasting of Late" carries a version of this same tune. The variations in the texts might be attributed to different people putting words to this lively tune. It is notable that the version printed in Paddy O'Rafferty refers to Morgan Rattler at one point as "a jig," which it was.

Further Reading:

George Deacon, John Clare & The Folk Tradition pp. 240-241 and 311

Roy Palmer, Everyman’s Book of British Ballads, pp. 235-237

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