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The Family Ointment
(Roud 5326)
Vincie Boyle
Mount Scott, Mullagh
Recorded December 2003

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

Vincie Boyle

In a neat little cottage not far from this town,
There a lived a man called Marcus Brown.
He was well-to-do with a neat little wife,
And the want of a family caused great strife.
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.

Things every day grew worse and worse,
He consulted his mother’s old family nurse.
‘Kind Sir, don’t fret,’ was her reply.
‘Why don’t you the family ointment try?’
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.

Being pleased with the news and away he went,
He bought a box of this ointment.
Home he went without any delay,
The wife took some sure that very same day.
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.

Next morning to Mr Brown’s surprise,
The wife was ill and she could not rise.
She lay in bed and the mid-wife came in,
She threw away two the dead image of him.
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.

And a drop of the ointment had fell on his mother.
‘Oh Lord,’ said he, ‘Will she have another?’
And in less than an hour she had twenty four.
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.

And where he kept his cattle and grass,
Someone gave a daub to the auld big jackass.
He lay by the ditch and they thought he was stole,
He bursted his belly an’ he strivin’ to foal.
With me raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle daddle-dum
Raddle-dum faddle-dum, hi-diddle dee.


“Piper Willie Clancy of Miltown Malbay seems to be the sole source for this. The song appears to have been adapted from this ‘epic’ poem from the book ‘The Harp of a Thousand Strings, or, Laughter for a Lifetime ... the whole engraved by Samuel Putnam Avery’, New York, 1858.

‘The Blessed Babbies' or ‘The Family Ointment’: (an original tale of deep domestic interest)
Although your lot be care or strife,
Be this your maxim e'er through life,—
Content and patience, resignation,
Whate'er your fate, whate'er your station;
And so, the same to illustrate,
A simple story I'll relate:

In a snug house, not far from town,
Resided Mr. Abraham Brown,
Who'd all the comforts of this life;
But chief of all, a charming wife—
A gentle partner, loving mate—
A being formed to captivate.
They loved each other fondly, truly,
Though sometimes they would both complain,
And tantalize and quarrel duly,
For th' joy of making it up again.
Now, 'tis a rule,
We're taught at school,
'Tis heaven's decree, who will deny?
Man's sent below—
Who'll gainsay, No?—
When wed, to increase and multiply,
This truth I hardly need to mention;
But that the cause of all the strife
Between our hero and his wife,—
The mainspring of the whole contention,—
'Bout which they quarrell'd like two tabbies
Three years they'd Hymen's fetters borne,
Yet with regret their minds were torn,
Because they had no "blessed babbies!"

For this one blessing, how they sigh'd!
But still to them it was denied;
And how they envied the hard lot
Of those who'd half a dozen got!

Thus time roll'd on from year to year
Without one hope to crush despair;
And Brown and wife, both feared, alas!
They childless to their graves should pass.

Now, it so happened, Mrs. Brown,
One day, the stairs in passing down,
Slipp'd, and you will not be amaz'd,
That she her shin severely graz'd.

'Twas very bad, each day grew worse,
She tried to walk about, in vain;
She kept her bed, and hired a nurse,
And felt excruciating pain.
The doctor's skill is quite defied,
Various remedies they tried,
But all in vain.

Poor Mr. Brown was craz'd, or nigh,
When scanning the Daily —— one day,
An ad., conspicuous, met his eye,
So he perus'd it then straightway.
Twas one of HOLLOWAY'S, and it held,
For wounds or sores
Each one deplores,
Rheumatic gout,
Without a doubt,—
His ‘Family Ointment’ all excelled.
The ‘Ad.’ flashed hope upon Brown's brain,
Again he read it, and again;
There was a charm about the name,
Which to his soul like balsam came.
The Family Ointment!’ he'd try its use
Who knew the effect it might produce?
Elate with hope, he went straightway
(Fearful of any more delay,)
Unto the patient's room, and then,
To her the advertisement read again.
Now Mrs. Brown, with pain half-mad,
At prospects of relief was glad;
So off went Brown
By rail to town,
And with all haste unto the Strand,
For he was given to understand,
There was the ointment to be had,
A dozen boxes there he bought,
Because he very wisely thought,
Its qualities he'd fairly try,
By laying in a good supply.

Without delay, his wife applied
Th' remedy to th' affected part,
Rubb'd it well in; 'tis not denied
i t caus'd the wounded shin to smart;
And a sensation, (she declared,)
All through her system, as appeared.

Six times a day, for a week or more
She used the ointment to the sore;
Its good effects were soon reveal'd,
She felt relief, the wound was heal'd.

To Holloway both grateful were,
And spoke his praises far and near;
But Mrs. B. was stunned, you'll guess,
When, with a blush and smile of glee,
His lovely wife, sweet Mrs. B.,
One morning did to him confess—
We'll not repeat her words,—
Let it suffice, howe'er, that she
Was in a way "that ladies wish to be,
Who love their lords!"

Brown was delighted and astounded;
His spouse, though pleased, not less confounded,
Time placed the fact beyond a doubt.
Their cares and sorrows all were past—
Their hopes would realiz'd be at last—
The leg got well, and Mrs. B. got stout.

Then, how affectionate was B.
Unto the partner of his joys!
No man was half so kind as he!
Fond visions haunted both their brains
Of half-a-dozen girls or boys
To soothe their pains.
The doctor and the nurse were hired
Long ere their services were required;
And baby linen, too, prepared,
Which females, young and old, declared,
Its value to enhance,
That for taste, elegance, and value,—ay,
'Twas not too much to say,
And everybody coincided,—
It equall'd that which was provided
For the imperial babe of France;—
That is, the same they would have vow'd
But then, of course, it must be allow'd
They couldn't do so then, 'tis flat,
For one good reason why,
Which no one can deny,
They hadn't a chance:
The Prince of France
Was not born till a long time after that.
However, I've no wish to bore ye,
So 'thus proceed I with my story.

The weeks and months so quick take wing.
And now appears sweet smiling Spring
When nature looks so fresh and gay,
Clothed in its newest, best array,
And various budding flowers are seen
To deck the hills and valleys green;
And song-birds, from each leafy spray,
All carol forth their sweetest lay.
Balmy fragrance fills the air,
And Nature's smiles are ev'rywhere—
Those heaven-wrought smiles, that shine and glow,
And life, and health on man bestow.

Pardon, kind readers, this digression,
I fear I'm getting too poetic;
Still the description I've essay'd,
You'll all agree, I'm not afraid,
Though rather romantic in expression,
Is not too grave or too pathetic.
Well, it was spring—you'll understand,—
And from certain symptoms it was clear—
To doctor and nurse it did appear,—
And so they said to Mr. B.,
To quiet his anxiety:
The all-important moment was at hand.

'Twas evening. Rack'd with hopes and fears,
Pensively Brown sat himself down-stairs;
Anxiously watching nurse to appear,
That the result he then might hear.
And Mr. B.
Was fidgetty.
He tried to think, but all in vain,
Then his cigar he smok'd again,
And sipp'd his wine—took up a book,
And fix'd on the title a vacant look.

The subject was not mirth-inspiring,—
To some of interest, to be sure;
And one they'd be admiring,
"Treatise on the Cold-Water Cure!"
"Damn the cold-water cure!" cried B.,
"Brandy-and-water, hot, for me!"
He might have said more,
Had not the parlor door,
Just at that moment open'd in great haste;
And, no longer the reader's time to waste
(No doubt our prolix style he'll curse),
Not much to his surprise,
Before Brown's anxious eyes,
Stood the nurse;—
With smiling face, and glistening eye,
Which seemed glad tidings to imply.

Up jumped Brown,—"Now, nurse, quick—pray,
How's the dear patient? tell me,—say?"
"Sweet, blessed lady, it's all over;—"
"All over"
"Yes; and you may think yourself in clover,—
I give you joy,
Missus has got,—"
"What, nurse, what?"
"A bootiful little boy! "
"Good!—good, by Jupiter!" cried B.;
And then he laugh'd and wept with glee.
"The blessed,—darling little babby!—
Here, good nurse, I'll not act shabby,—
I'm not a man of wealth,
But here's a pound—
To drink the little new-come's health!"

With many thanks, nurse left the room,
And Brown his seat did then resume.
Anxiously waiting,
'Tis as well to be stating,—
Indeed, it should not be omitted,
Nurse's return,
That he might learn
How his lady was progressing,
Likewise their little blessing,
And when to her chamber he might be admitted.

Nurse came again, and you might trace
Nothing but smiles all o'er her face.
"Well, nurse, what news? how's my little queen?"
"I give you double joy, sir,—"
"What do you mean?—"
"It's all over again, sir,—charming! prime!
Missus has got a little girl this time!"
"Good again! by jingo!—" shouted B.,
"Was ever such a lucky fellow as me?
Here's another pound, nurse,—no oration,
This is an extraordinary occasion;—
Of cash I can afford to stand some,
I like to do the thing that's handsome!"

Nurse curtsey'd, and then walk'd away,
Wishing, if that was to be the pay,—
That Mrs. B.,—the truth I speak
(Though such a thing would be uncommon,
For any woman),—
Would keep the game alive for a week!—
Brown felt delighted, boundless was his joy,
The happy father of a girl and boy!—
But ere he had time to give his feelings vent,
Open flew the door,
The nurse appear'd once more!
Brown wondered what this meant.
"Now, nurse; now, nurse,—how goes it, eh?"
"Bootiful!—couldn't be better, I say.
A third time, sir, I have to wish you joy,
Missus has got another little boy! "
"Good again!—keep the game alive!—
This is the way to live and thrive!—
Beat this, my Trojans, if you can,
HOLLOWAY, you're a wonderful man!—
Here's food for gossip for old tabbies;
God bless the blessed little babbies!
There nurse!—another pound, away!
And see to your tender charge without delay."
The nurse quick vanish'd at the door,
Brown thought the business now all o'er;
Not so,—for to his great surprise,
Nurse stood a fourth time 'fore his eyes.
He was astounded, you'll be sure,
When, with a wicked leer,
Thinking his soul to cheer,
She announced the birth of number four!
"Damn'd bad!" this time, cried Brown,
Reseating himself with a fling;—
"I wanted brats, I own,
But this with my fancy don't exactly chime,
I did not bargain for four at a time,
It's rather too much of a good thing!
I must see my wife,—nurse, don't scoff,—
I must remonstrate, or, curse me, she'll ne'er leave off!"
"Lawks, sir," cried nurse, "how can you wonder so?
It's all owing to the Family Ointment you know."

Brown did not offer to say nay,
But to his lady went straightway;
And Mrs. B., you may be sure,
With pride presented babbies four.
They form'd a little juvenile party,
Fine children too and well and hearty.

The boys the image of papa,
The girls the picture of mamma!
"But, my dear," said Brown, "you're rather fast,
I think our prayers are heard at last;
I wish'd for children, it is true,—
One at a time, or even two,
Nay, three, p'rhaps, might not be amiss,
But I bargain'd not for a lot like this!"
"My dear," she said, with a kiss of love,
Meant at the same time to reprove
"Do not complain,
For that is vain,
The proverb says, and well you know it,
So, there's no occasion, perhaps, to show it,
Although it should never be forgot,
You must be contented with your lot!
But then, at one time, to be sure,
Rather too many, perhaps, is four!
Mind not," she cried, and him caress'd,
"Dear Abraham!—now you're four times blessed!
"Five hundred times, my angel, true!
I'm bless'd, in having these and you!"
Cried Brown, as with a loving kiss,
Upon her lips he seal'd his bliss.
"Go on!—a go, don't ever call,
Damme! there's room enough for all!
Dear HOLLOWAY!—your Ointment's praise
I'll gladly speak in, all my days.
For, I believe, howe'er 't may be,
It's made a family man of me!"

He ceas'd, with joy embraced his wife,
Then kiss'd the "blessed babbies" round,
And I'll be bound,
That from that day,
So all who know them say,
They're the happiest couple to be found in life."
Jim Carroll

See also
The Family Ointment sung by John Lyons

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