The singer, a wood-hauler, having gotten drunk, is convinced to go a ball. He spends a riotous night. He hopes that others will not exaggerate what happened.
Laws made rather a botch of this piece, omitting the Cox and Brown texts and causing me to split the song in two for a time. It doesn't help that it's an extremely diverse item; there is hardly a single feature common to all versions. Many versions start with the lines, "I woke up on morning in (1805/1845/1865), (Thought/Found) myself quite (happy/lucky) to find myself alive."
This is not, however, diagnosic. Cox's text, for instance, begins with the line, "When I was one-and-twenty," but is obviously not to be confused with the A. E. Housman poem of the same title.
Many texts say that the young man was able to go on a spree because of a gift from his father. But in Brown's "B" text, he's treated to an election spree (a common technique in nineteenth century elections: Give the voters enough free liquor and they would be expected to vote for you. Though it's rather odd to see an election held in *1845*).
The singer is often a hauler, and may ring in his mule -- but may not.
We often find a description of a wild dance, but this seems to vary also.
And so it goes.
Fowke's text has a curious reference to a fiddle tune "The Bluebells of Ireland." Wonder how the Scots felt about that title. - RBW