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Story Of London

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter

This is the complete text of the popular Victorian song which was introduced to London by the then famous Music Hall singer Sam Cowell in the 1850s. It is one of the classic London songs from the period. The dropped aitches and transposition of “w” and “v” maintain the flavour of the speech normally heard amongst the Music Hall audiences of the period.

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter

Not long ago in Vestminster


There liv’d a ratcatcher’s daughter, –


But she didn’t quite live in Vestminster,


‘Cause se liv’d t’other side of the vater; –


Her father caught rats and she sold sprats


All round and about that quarter;


And the gentlefolks all took off their ‘ats,


To the pretty little ratcatcher’s daughter.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



She vore no ‘at upon her ‘ead,


No cap nor dandy bonnet, –


The ‘air of ‘er ‘ead all ‘ung down her back,


Like a bunch of carrots upon it; –


Ven she cried “Sprats!” in Vestminster,


She ‘ad such a sweet loud woice, sir,


You could ‘ear ‘er all down Parliament Street,


As far as Charing Cross, sir.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



Now, rich and poor, both far and near,


In matrimony sought ‘er;


But at friends and foes she turn’d up ‘er nose,


Did the pretty little ratcatcher’s daughter.


For there was a man cried “Lily-vite Sand,”


In Cupid’s net ‘ad caught ‘er;


And right over ‘ead and ears in love

Vent the putty little ratcatcher’s daughter.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



Now Lily-vite Sand so ran in’er ‘ead,


As she vent along the Strand,oh,


She forgot as she’d got sprats on ‘er ‘ead,


And cried, “D’ye vant any lily-vite sand, oh,”


The folks, amaz’d, all thought ‘er craz’d,


As she vent along the Strand, oh.


To see a girl vith sprats on ‘er ‘ead


Cry, “D’ye vant any lily-vit sand, oh.”



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



Now ratcatcher’s Daughter so ran in ‘is ‘ead,


He couldn’t tell vat ‘e was arter,


So, instead of crying “D’ye vant any sand?”


He cried, “D’ye vant anyratcatcher’s darter?”


His donkey *****’d ‘is ears and laughed,


And couldn’t think vat ‘e was arter,


Ven ‘e ‘eard ‘is lily-vite sandman cry,


“D’ye vant any ratcatcher’s Darter?”



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



They both agreed to married be


Upon next Easter Sunday,


But Ratcatcher’s Daughter se ‘ad a dream


That she wouldn’t be alive on Monday;


She vent vunce more to buy some sprats,


And she tumbled into the vater,


And down to te bottom, all kiver’d with mud,


Vent the putty little Ratcatcher’s Daughter.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



Ven Lily-vite Sand ‘e ‘eard the news,


‘Is eyes ran down with vater,


Said ‘e,”In love I’ll constantiant prove;


And blow me if I’ll live long arter.”


So ‘e cut ‘is throat vith a pane of glass


And stabb’d ‘is donkey arter!


So ‘ere is an end of Lily-vite Sand,


Donkey, and Ratcatcer’s Daughter.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



The neighbours all, both great and small,


They flocked unto ‘er berrein’,


And vept that a gal wo’d cried out sprats,


Sould be dead as any herrein’.


The Corioner’s Inquest on ‘er sot,


At the sign of the Jack I’ the Vater


To find vat made3 life’s sand run out


Of the putty little Ratcatcher’s daughter.



Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!



The werdict vas that too much vet


This poor young voman died on;


For she made an ‘ole in the Riviere Thames,


Vot the penny steamers ride on.


‘Twas a haccident they all agreed,


And nuffink like self-slaughter;


So not guilty o’ fell in the sea,


They brought in the Ratcatcher’s Daughter.

Well, ladies and gentlemen – arter the two bodies were resusticated – they buried them both in one seminary; and the epigram which they writ upon the tombstone went as follows:-


Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!


Doodle dee! doodle dum! di dum doodle da!