Modern Street Ballads


A little old woman, a living she got,
By selling hot codlings, hot, hot, hot!
Now this little old woman, as I’ve been told,
Though her codlings were hot, she was monstrously cold,
So to keep herself warm, she thought no sin,
For to go and take a small drop of gin,
                  Fol-de-rol, etc.

Now this little old woman went off in a trot,
To get a quartern of hot, hot, hot!
She swallowed a glass, and it was so nice,
That she tipped off another, all in a trice,
She fill’d the glass till the bottle it shrunk,
And this little old woman I’m told got drunk.

Now this little old woman, while muzzy she got,
Some boys stole her codlings, hot, hot, hot!
Put powder in the pan, and ‘neath it round stones,
Cried this little woman, these apples have bones.
The powder and the pan up they did send,
This little old woman on her latter end.

Now this little old woman went off in a trot,
All in a fury, hot, hot, hot!
Sure such boys as these never were known,
They never will let a poor woman alone,
There’s a moral from this, so round let it buz
If you want to sell codlings, you must never get muz.

This song was, as far as I can find, introduced by Grimaldi in Thos. J. Dibdin’s famous Pantomime of “Mother Goose,” which in 1806-7 had the unprecedented run of a hundred and fifty nights, and was a favourite for very many years. When Pantomimes were Pantomimes, and not mere spectacles, the clowns were real clowns (the Shakesperian and French hybrids not having been born), and the names of Grimaldi, Matthews, and others will go down to posterity. No Pantomime was complete without the clown singing this song, which was always encored, and, as a substitute, invariably was given “Tippetiwitchet,” of which the theme was an intoxicated man. Perhaps, if revived, Modern Society would not appreciate them, but forty or fifty years ago tastes were not so superfine, and these clowns and their songs afforded hilarious amusement.

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