Slattery’s Mounted Foot

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Something for the weekend.  Slattery’s Mounted Foot.  The Irish have always had a talent for humorous self mockery.  One of the masters of this art was Percy French who lived from 1854-1920 and wrote many humorous songs, gently poking fun at the foibles of the Irish.  My favorite is Slattery’s Mounted Foot:

You’ve heard of Julius Ceasar and the great Napoleon too,

And how the Cork militia beat the Turks at Waterloo;

But there’s a page of glory that as yet remains uncut,

And that’s the warlike story of old Slattery’s Mounted Fut.

This gallant corps was organised by Slattery and his son,
A noble-hearted poacher with a double-breasted gun.
And many a head was broken, aye, and many an eye was shot,
When practising maneuvers in the Slattery’s Mounted Fut.
Chorus
And down from the mountains came the squadrons and platoons,
Four-and-twenty fighting men and a couple of stout gossoons;
When going into action held each musket by the butt,
We sang this song and marched along, the Slattery’s mounted Fut.
Well, first we reconnoitered ’round O’Sullivan’s Shabeen—
It used to be a chop house but we called it the canteen;
And there we saw a notice which the bravest heart unnerved:
“All liquor must be settled for before the drink is served.”
So on we marched, but soon again each warrior’s heart grew pale,
For rising high in front of us we saw the county jail;
And when the army faced about, ’twas just in time to find,
A couple of stout policemen had surrounded us behind.
Chorus
And down from the mountains came the squadrons and platoons,
Four-and-twenty fighting men and a couple of stout gossoons.
When going into action held each musket by the butt
We sang the song and marched along, the Slattery’s mounted fut.”
“We’ll cross the ditch,” our leader cried, “and take the forward flank;”
But yells of consternation here arose from every rank;
For posted high upon a tree we very plainly saw:
“Trespassers prosecuted, in accordance with the law.”
“We’re foiled!” exclaimed bold Slattery, “here ends our grand campaign,
‘Tis merely throwing life away to face that raging drain;
I’m not as bold as lions but I’m braver than a hen,
And he that fights and runs away will live to fight again.”
Chorus
So back to the mountains went the squadrons and platoons,
Four-and-twenty fighting men and a couple of stout gossoons.
When going into action held each musket by the butt,
We sang this song and marched along, the Slattery’s mounted Fut.
We reached the mountains safely, though all stiff and sore with cramp.
Each took a whet of whiskey straight to dissipate the damp;
And when they loaded all their pipes, bold Slattery up and said:
Today’s immortal fight will be remembered by the dead.”
“I never shall forget,” said he, “while this brave heart shall beat,
The eager way you followed when I headed the retreat.
Ye preferred the soldier’s maxim, when desisting from the strife:
‘Best be a coward for five minutes than a dead man all your life.’”
Chorus
And back to the mountains came the squadrons and platoons,
Four and twenty fighting men and a couple of stout gossoons,
When going into action held each musket by the butt,
We sang this song and marched along, the slattery’s mounted fut!

Alternative lyrics for the chorus are:

And down from the mountains came the squadrons and platoons,
Four-and-twenty fighting men and a couple of stout gossoons,
When going into action held each musket by the butt,
We sang a song as we marched along with Slattery’s Mounted Foot!
Mr. French is perhaps better known for this composition which he wrote in 1877:
 

Click here to view the embedded video.

 
Abdul Abulbul Amir
 
The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.
Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
He could jump twenty yards and tell fortunes at cards,
and strum on the Spanish guitar.
In fact quite the cream of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.
Young man, quoth Abdul, has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel, know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.
So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk,
Singing, “Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!”
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part;
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.
They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar,
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.
As Abdul’s long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, “Huzzah!”
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.
There’s a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And graved there in characters clear,
Is, “Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.”
A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.
A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
‘Neath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

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Donald R. McClarey (1546 Posts)


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