The Epilogue | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

The ministerial press in America embraced every opportunity to ridicule the motives of the most prominent patriots of the Revolution, and very often exceeded the bounds of truth, or even probability in their assertions. The following remarks and stanzas were published in a ballad sheet, and posted in the streets of New York and Philadelphia, during the month of October 1778, and on the twenty fourth of the same month they appeared in the Royal Gazette. “There was lately exhibited in the city of Philadelphia, an admirable farce called Independence. Who the author was is not positively known, but some are of the opinion that it is the work of a certain quack doctor called Franklin. Others assert that it is the joint production of the strolling company by whom it was acted; it is, however, generally allowed, that one Adams gave the first hint, contrived the plot and cast the parts. It appeared in the exhibition so tragical, that the audience were at a loss whether to laugh or cry. They were, however, well pleased with the catastrophe, and joined heartily in the following chorus. As the renowned Voltaire somewhere relates, that a song was the cause of the French reformation, the excellent actor who performed the part of the President took upon himself the plain song.” the whole production has been attributed to James Rivington, “the lying hector of the Royal Gazette,” but the only evidence we have to sustain this supposition, is that it was published in his paper, which is certainly very slight.

The Epilogue1

OUR farce is now finish’d, your sport’s at an end,
But ere you depart, let the voice of a friend
By way of a chorus, the evening crown
With a song to the tune of a hey derry down,
Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Old Shakspeare, a poet, who should not be spit on, Altho’ he was born in the island called Britain,
Hath said that mankind are all players at best,
A truth we’ll admit of, for sake of the jest.

On this puny stage we’ve strutted our hour,
And have acted our parts to the best of our power;
That the farce hath concluded not perfectly well,
Was surely the fault of the devil in hell.

This devil, you know, out of spleen to the church,
Will oftentimes leave his best friends in the lurch,
And turn them adrift in the midst of their joy;
‘Tis a difficult matter to cheat the Old Boy.

Since this is the case, we must e’en make the best
Of a game that is lost; let us turn it to jest;
We’ll smile, nay, we’ll laugh, we’ll carouse and we’ll sing,
And cheerfully drink life and health to the king.

Let Washington now from his mountains descend,
Who knows but in George he may still find a friend;
A Briton, altho’ he loves bottle and wench,
Is an honester follow than parle vous French.

Our great Independence we give to the wind,
And pray that Great Britain may once more be kind.
In this jovial song all hostility ends,
And Britons and we will for ever be friends.

Boys fill me a bumper! now join in the chorus!
There is happiness still in the prospect before us,
In this sparkling glass, all hostility ends,
And Britons and we will for ever be friends.

Good night! my good people, retire to your houses,
Fair ladies, I beg you, convince your dear spouses
That Britons and we are united in bliss
And ratify all with a conjugal kiss.

Once more, here’s a health to the king and queen! Confusion to him, who in rancor and spleen,
Refuses to drink with an English friend,
Immutable amity to the world’s end.

  1. The Epilogue. At the time the foregoing was written, the British held possession of Philadelphia. After the evacuation of the city by Howe’s army, June 18, 1778, the Congress resumed its sittings there.

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