William McCarty, comp. The American National Song Book. 1842.
Come, Ye Lads, Who Wish to Shine
Written in 1812
The following is from the Musical Almanac of 1842, published in Boston.
Origin of Yankee Doodle.This tune has so long been considered as national property, that most persons have supposed it purely American in its origin. Yet, so far as we can learn, this is not the fact. It appears that, previous to the time of Charles I., an air, somewhat similar to the one in question, was common among the peasantry of England.
This air, during the time of Cromwell, was set to various ditties in ridicule of the Protector. One of these began with the words, The Roundheads and the Cavaliers. Another set of words were called Nankee Doodle, and has throughout a striking resemblance to some of the popular stanzas, which were common in the American colonies from the time of their origin, to the Revolution, and in some sections of the country even to the present day. The song, Lydia Locket, or Lucy Locket, has been sung to the same tune from time immemorial. This air seems to have been the foundation of Yankee Doodle.
During the French war of 1755, the provincial army, sent against Niagara and Frontenac, was commanded by Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, and General Johnston of New York. Through the early part of the season the army lay encamped on the Hudson, a little below Albany. While the troops were in this position, they were continually receiving recruits from the New England states in the form of drafts and volunteers. They came in, company after company, just as they had issued from their farms and firesides, and their appearance is said to have equalled any specimen of the ludicrous ever exhibited, save and except the famous company of Sir John Falstaff. Some of them had long hair, some had short, and some wore enormous wigs. Some had black suits, some had blue, and some had gray. Some had long coats, some had short ones, and some had no coats at all. Their accoutrements were equally varied, and all together furnished the most grotesque and amusing spectacle, that can well be imagined, and abundance of sport for the British Regulars.
The music played by the volunteers was such as had been out of date in the British army for centuries, and assisted finely to add point to the amusement afforded by the whole scene. In the British army at that time, was one Doctor Shackburg, a surgeon, who was a skilful musician and a great wag. The doctor immediately turned his attention to the Yankee volunteers, and determined to pass off a joke by composing a tune for their particular use. He accordingly remodelled the air of Nankee Doodle, called it Yankee Doodle, and with all the gravity imaginable recommended it to the new-comers, as one of the most celebrated airs that his country had ever produced.
The volunteers admired the tune; and notwithstanding the hearty laugh and noisy ridicule of the regulars, it soon became a general favourite through the whole American camp.
Thus originated an air in pure levity and ridicule, which many a British soldier in a few years had cause to consider the knell of all his glory. The same soul-stirring strains were heard at a subsequent period on Bunkers Hill; the same on the plains of Yorktown; and the same strains will continue to warm the American heart, so long as music hath charms to inspire the breast and rouse the soul to action.