Percy's Reliques - Lilli Burlero.

Lilli Burlero.

            The following rhymes, slight and insignificant as they may now seem, had once a more powerful effect than either the Philippics of Demosthenes, or Cicero; and contributed not a little towards the great revolution in 1688. Let us hear a contemporary writer.

            "A foolish ballad was made at that time, treating the Papists, and chiefly the Irish, in a very ridiculous manner, which had a burden said to be Irish words, 'Lero, lero, lilliburlero,' that made an impression on the [king's] army, that cannot be imagined by those that saw it not. The whole army, and at last the people, both in city and country, were singing it perpetually. And perhaps never had so slight a thing so great an effect."-- Burnet.

            It was written, or at least republished, on the Earl of Tyrconnel's going a second time to Ireland in October 1688. Perhaps it is unnecessary to mention, that General Richard Talbot, newly created Earl of Tyrconnel, had been nominated by King James II. to the lieutenancy of Ireland in 1686, on account of his being a furious Papist, who had recommended himself to his bigoted master by his arbitrary treatment of the Protestants in the preceding year, when only lieutenant general, and whose subsequent conduct fully justified his expectations and their fears. The violence of his administration may be seen in any of the histories of those times: particularly in Bishop King's "State of the Protestants in Ireland," 1691, 4to.

            Lilliburleo and Bullen-a-lah are said to have been the words of distinction used among the Irish Papists in their massacre of the Protestants in 1641.

Ho! broder Teague, dost hear de decree?
Lilli burlero, bullen a-la.
Dat we shall have a new deputie,
Lilli burlero, bullen a-la.
Lero lero, lilli burlero, lero lero, bullen a-la,
Lero lero, lilli burlero, lero lero, bullen a-la.

Ho! by shaint Tyburn, it is de Talbote:
Lilli, &c.
And he will cut de Englishmen's troate.
Lilli, &c.

Dough by my shout de English do praat,
Lilli, &c.
De law's on dare side, and Creish knows what.
Lilli, &c.

But if dispence do come from de pope,
Lilli, &c.
We'll hang Magna Charta and dem in a rope.
Lilli, &c.

For de good Talbot is made a lord,
Lilli, &c.
And with brave lads is coming abroad
Lilli, &c.

Who all in France have taken a sware,
Lilli, &c.
Dat dey will have no protestant heir.
Lilli, &c.

Ara! but why does he stay behind?
Lilli, &c.
Ho! by my shoul 'tis a protestant wind.
Lilli, &c.

But see de Tyrconnel is now come ashore,
Lilli, &c.
And we shall have commissions gillore.
Lilli, &c.

And he dat will not go to de mass,
Lilli, &c.
Shall be turn out, and look like an ass.
Lilli, &c.

Now, now de hereticks all go down,
Lilli, &c.
By Chrish and shaint Patrick, de nation's our own.
Lilli, &c.

Dare was an old prophesy found in a bog,
Lilli, &c.
"Ireland shall be rul'd by an ass and a dog."
Lilli, &c.

And now dis prophesy is come to pass,
Lilli, &c.
For Talbot's de dog, and JA**S is de ass.
Lilli, &c.

*** The foregoing song is attributed to Lord Wharton in a small pamphlet, intitled, "A true relation of the several facts and circumstances of the intended riot and tumult on Queen Elizabeth's birth-day," &c. Third edition. London, 1712, price 2d. See p. 5, viz. "A late Viceroy [of Ireland] who has so often boasted himself upon his talent for mischief, invention, lying, and for making a certain Lilliburlero song, with which, if you will believe himself, he sung a deluded prince out of three kingdoms."

 

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