STREET PIRACY

(tune: 'Meggy Macraw')

This song comes from an undated chapbook, perhaps of about 1800 or shortly after. It records the complaint of a reveller who walking home late at night, is picked on by a night watchman, who arrests him and brings him him to Court, where eventually the innocent pedestrian is released without a fine.
His revenge is to write this song, in which the night watchman is compared, in turn, to a bogle (phantom), Death himself, a pirate ship, a heathen, a street vendor, and a parrot (or is this the magistrate?). A lot in the song is not clear, but the last comparison is to Snap the Dragon, who was apparently a well-known figure in Newcastle mummers plays: he would threaten to bite onlookers if they did not contribute money. (The implication is that the watchman was similarly trying it on, to extort money.)

Ane neet gannin hame, nowther tipsy nor lame,
Aw fell in wi some cronies at chat, man;
They did me entreat, to set(1) them up street,
Wi aw thowt there was ne harm in that, man.
We hadn't gane far, till attacked we were,
By a bogle, frev out on a lane, man;
He a skeleton seem'd, said we shouted and scream'd;
To deny it was labour in vain, man.

(1) accompany

We got sauce and high words, for full forty yards,
Till aw ax'd(2) what his business might be, man;
While actin discreet, he had nowt to do w'it;
Then he laid his vile hands upon me, man.
My reason he stormed, my fancy transformed,
Aw fancied him Death, in disguise, man.
His rattle aw tuik for a scythe, by its luik;
And his lantern a time-glass o' size, man.

(2) asked

His cruik seemed a dart, or a halbert cut short,
Iv a hornbuik(3) position aw stuid, man:
Clap-mills freeten sparrows, se off ran my marrows,
When he on his rattle did thud, man.
Aw was taken in tow, by Mungo and Joe,
Twee piracy craft, that cam there, man;
Convey'd as a prize, wi hands clapt to my thighs,
Tiv a house, "No. 9, Cabbage-square," man.

(3) child's picture book

Aw sat i'the nuik, and my cutty(4) aw smuik,
When the lick-spittle wretch he cam in, man;
A Heathen - a Turk - an' a Hawker o' Cork,
Wi looks as disgusting as sin, man.
He stated the cause, but he gat ne applause,
The Captain saw ne reason why, man;
To the Court next he went, an' he made a complaint,
Extorting my money to try, man.

(4) short pipe

The Parrot, whey pale, oer much like himsel,
Quite happy in fingerin the clink(5), man;
He bad me put down a reet bonny half-crown,
For being se saucy in drink, man.
The ilI-fated Snap thowt aw wad mak it up,
That his hungry maw he might fill, man;
But, for the transgression, aw gat clear at the Session,
The Parrot not having a Bill, man.

(5) money

Now Snap's i'the suds, gaun hingin his lugs,
Despis'd by the Knights o' the Cruik, man;
Defeated, disgrac'd, hunger'd-bit, and displac'd,
Despair ye may view in his luik, man.
He sighs for the deed, that was duin at Garth-head,
When his shopmates wi cork shavins fed, man,
His effigie's blaze! - that each night thus he prays,
Ere he puts off his duddin(6) for bed, man.

(6) clothes