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Its of a rich merchant in London did vell
He had but one daughter and her kim a nice young
Her name it was Dinah, scarce sixteen years old
She had a very large fortune in silver and gould

Its Dinah was walking in the garding von day
Her papa come to her and this he did say
Go dress yourself Dinah in gorgeous array
For I've ot gyou yon husband both gallant and gay

Oh papa, oh papa, the data replied
To marry just yet I've not made up my mind
Von av o' my fortune I'll freely give o'er
Iv you let me live single one year or two more

Go, go, boldest daughter, the parien replied
Iv you dont consent to be this young man's bride
Its all your large fortune goes to the nearest o' kin
And you shant reap the benefit of von single pin

As Villikins vas valking in the gardling von day
He saw his poor Dinah as cold as the clay
With a cup of cold poison did lie by her side
And the little ducks said that for Villikins she died
Now he's kissed her cold corpse a thousand times o'er
He called her his Dinah, tho' she was no more
He swallowed up the poison, like a luver so brave
And Vallian Villikins and his Dinah was laid in one grave

Now all you young ladies take heed what I say
And never, by any means, your governor disobey
And all young gentleman, beware who you clap your eyes on
Think of Villikins and his Dinah and the cup of cold poison

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Seeds of Love, Stephen Sedley, EFDSS, 1967, plus Bodleian Ballad

Tune and lyrics in ABC file taken from "The Seeds of Love", Stephen Sedley, EFDS, 1967 where he merely notes the tune is "traditional".

Main Lyrics taken from the Bodleian Ballad site, Harding B 26(663), as those in the Seeds of Love are a composite from many sources.
Details of the Harding broadsheet:
Imprint: Printed and sold, by J. Moore, 1, Castle cour[t]
Printer: Moore, J. (Belfast)
Date: between 1846 and 1852

(Only a few of the typo's in the lyrics above are mine!)

These notes on 'Villikins and his Dinah' were copied from the website at and then corrected slightly

In its early days the music hall relied heavily on folksongs and their tunes, and many early performers made a speciality of folksong parodies - some of which have lasted better than the originals. [...] Among them was Villikins and His Dinah (Toorali oorali oorali ay) by the Cockney comedian Sam Cowell. Villikins and Dinah went on to live its own broadside life, and it is in this form that the song is known today. [...]

There are fewer folksong tunes than there are sets of words, the tunes having been used and reused with minor variations or with none at all. Villikins and Dinah, for example, must have been sung to hundreds of different sets of words. (Pollard, Folksong 9ff)

[1999:] According to Peter Davidson in 'Songs Of The British Music Hall' the song originated in the 1840s sung by Frederick Robson at the Grecian Saloon (adjoining The Eagle Tavern of 'Pop Goes The Weasel' fame) and was later taken up by Sam Cowell.

Robson was 'a master of lightning changes from side-splitting comedy to heart-rending pathos'. and Davidson expounds at some length the intercut of comedy and pathos in the song and its performance. ('... demands of an audience something of that Elizabethan capacity for multiconscious enjoyment described by S. L. Bethell in 'Shakespeare And The Popular Dramatic Condition'. 'It is easy and not unnatural to see Villikins and songs like it as demanding simple guying. But there is here, in an extremely bold form, the relationship of comic and pathetic which is used so skilfully by Albert Chevalier and which is to be found in some of Vesta Victoria's and Gus Elen's songs.').

Roud: 271 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Related Songs:  All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough (melodic)

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