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Bargery Number 413
Music (Given or Suggested) The text of 'Oh what a Row' is printed in The Melodist and Mirthful Olio 1828 [vol I page 112] as 'Adventures in a Steam Boat' and the air is given as 'Sure Such a Day'. "Sure such a day" is the opening of a song called 'Picknickery' [Johns Hopkins Sheridan Libraries & University Museums : The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection Box 048, Item 076]. The melody of 'Picknickery' is almost identical to that of 'Oh What a Row'. 'A Garland of New Songs' published in Newcastle c1785 [British Library General Reference Collection 11621.a.3.(54.)] contains a song called 'Picknickery. The London Songster 1830 pp37-38 gives the air of 'Adventure in a Steam Boat' as the 'Tortoiseshell Tom-Cat'. The Universal Songster Vol 1, 1825, p97 gives the air of 'Tortoiseshell Tom-Cat' as 'Oh What a Day'. All of which suggests that 'Picknickery' was the source of the air of 'Oh What a Row'
Printer or Publisher Hime & Son
Author Mr. Tayleure
Performer Mr. Tayleure
Earliest Date 1820
Evidence for Earliest Date The publisher's assertion that the item is a "New Comic Song"
Latest Date 1820
Evidence for Latest Date An advertisment in Billinge's Advertiser [Liverpool] 7th November 1820. " NEW COMIC SONG just published by Hime and Son, Castle Street and Church Street Liverpool THE ADVENTURES OF A STEAM PACKET as Sung by Mr Tayleure at the Theatre on his Benefit Night Price 1s. 6d. [Reference Arthur C. Wardle, Early Steamships of the Mersey, 1815-1820 April 1940 p97 Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire]
Source of Text National Maritime Museum Caird Library PBF5689 Music
Where Printed Liverpool
Roud V2132
First Line Oh what a row what a rumpus and a rioting
Source of Music As text
Comments on Song The song was probably inspired by the arrival of steam boats on the River Mersey
Source Title Oh What a row, or the Adventures of a Steam Packet. A New Comic Son as sung by Mr. Tayleur
Other Imprints The song was printed under various title in several songsters and broadsides. It has 34 entries in the Roud Index
Origin Theatre



Oh what a row what a rumpus and a rioting
All hose endure, you may be sure, that go to sea
A ship is a thing that you never can be quiet in
By wind or steam 'tis all the same 'twas so with me
Wife and daughter on the water said they'd like to sail a bit
I consented, soon repented, soon began to rail a bit
Papa now pray, do go today, the weather's so inviting, lauk¹!
I'm sure 'twill do such good to you, they feed you like a fighting cock.
Oh what a row what a rumpus and a rioting
All those endure, you may be sure, that go to sea

In a boat I got afloat as clumsy as an elephant
So spruce and gay to spend the day, and make a splash
Gad! it's true; I did it too, for stepping in, I fell off o'nt
And overboard, upon my word, I went, slap dash
Wife squalling, Daughter bawling, every thing provoking me
Called "a Hog, a Poodle dog", all the sailors joking me
Dripping wet, in a fret, with many more diststressibles
A fellow took a long boat hook, and caught my inexpressibles
Oh what a row &c.

Such a gig without a wig, on deck I was exhibited
Laughed at by the passengers and quizzed by the crew
Raved and swore that on the shore, I'd rather have been gibbeted
Thus half drown'd, by all around, be roasted too
Danger past and dry at last, indulging curiosity
I stared to see the Vessel flee, with such a strange velocity;
"Pray" said I to one just by, "What power can impel us so"
"The smoky devil goes by steam; at least the lubbers tell us so
Oh what a row &c.

Not a sail to catch the gale, yet magically on I went,
'Gainst wind and tide, and all beside, in wonder quite
Cast my eye, up to the sky, and tall as London's Monument¹
I saw the Kitchen Chimney smoke, as black as night.
People toiling, roasting, boiling, bless us such a rookery,
They'd soup and fish, and fowl and flesh, a London Tavern cookery
Then the noise of men and boys a din to rival Hell's Hubbub
I though the crew were Devils too, their master Capt'n Beelzebub
Oh what a row &c.

Wife to me, say_ says she, "now's your time to pick a bit"
"The dinner's serving up below and we must fly"
Says I, "my dear, I'm very queer, I'm going to be sick a bit"
I'm seized with an alloverness¹, I faint!, I die!"
"I cannot eat, I loathe my meat, I feel my stomach failing me",
"Steward hasten, bring a basin, what_the_Deuce¹ is ailing me"
If it's handy, get some brandy", the malady to quench unable
Down I lay for half a day, in a pickle quite unmentionable.
Oh what a row &c.

As to dinner, I'm a sinner if I touched a bit of it
But anchor cast and home at last, I'm safe once more.
In the packet such a racket, crowding to get quit of it
Like cattle on a coaster, were hauled on shore.
With "how d'ye do", and "how are you, I see you're better physically,"
"Zounds, be still, I'm very ill, you're always talking quizzically"
Some with glee, may go to sea, but I shall not be willing Sir
For such a day again to pay just two pounds fifteen shillings, Sir".
Oh what a row &c.


3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Oh What a Row

bar413: Dates 1820~1820|

Misadventures of the hero who takes his family on a steam boat excursion.

Lady of the Lake

bar749: Dates 1828~----|

Fragment of a poem about the capsize of the Lady of the Lake on Loch Lomond in 1828

Reply to Wordsworth

663c: Dates 1847~1847|

Allusion to the first steamer on Lake Windemere

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