DESCRIPTION: "Harvey Duff, keep the step, Oh, what's up with you"
EARLIEST DATE: c.1881 (Zimmerman-SongsOfIrishRebellion)
KEYWORDS: nonballad police
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Zimmerman-SongsOfIrishRebellion 78, "Harvey Duff" (2 fragments, 1 tune)
NOTES [310 words]: The tune seems to me to be close to "The Worms Crawl In."
Zimmerman-SongsOfIrishRebellion: "The name became a popular cry to abuse traitors after the success of Dion Boucicault's melodrama The Shaughraun, first produced in 1875. The hero of the play was a Fenian, and the villain an informer -- Harvey Duff, 'a police agent in disguise of a peasant'," quoting The Dolmen Boucicault. "For a time, to call somebody Harvey Duff was like calling him a traitor -- cf. the name Quisling in the mid twentieth century. The constables had grounds for considering the expression offensive when it was systematically applied to them.... The name Harvey Duff survived as synonymous with policeman in the street rhymes of Dublin children."
Zimmermann discusses the arrests in 1881 of children, one six years old, for whistling the tune. He has other reports of people attacked or arrested by police for whistling "Harvey Duff" and of animals reportedly famous for their ability to mimic the tune.
"The arrests for whistling in Newcastle became a national controversy and 'Harvey Duff'" was whistled at every crossroads and every Land League gathering in the country." (source: "Hugh Murray Gunn" and Harvey Duff" quoting Freeman's Journal, February 12, 1881 at Gaelscoil O Doghair site.
As for words... one typical] fragment is included as the description, Zimmermann says "it is likely that many occasional squibs were set to this short air -- and soon forgotten."
Tim Coughlan, Now Shoon the Romano Gillie, (Cardiff,2001), p. 155 refers to the following text "used by the urchins of Dublin to taunt the police ... Harvey Duff, don't take me, Take the fellow behind the tree." "The words would be repeated until either the law gave chase or the game was abandoned for lack of action." - BS
For background on Dion Boucicault, see the notes to "Cruiskeen Lawn." - RBW
Last updated in version 5.1
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.