“Faithless Boney (The Croppies' Complaint)”


"Oh dear! what can the matter be Bony's so long coming here. He promised to bring us a budget of freedom" but he did not come from Calais to Dover, he deserted us "just as the crisis drew near." The loyalists laugh while he "minds his own interest"


For another broadside on "Boney" coming to England, to the same tune, see Bodleian, Harding B 25(1115), "Little Boney A-Cockhorse ("Oh dear! little Boney's a coming"), J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819

The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:

Barry Gleeson acc. Mick Willis, "Faithless Bony" (on "The Croppy's Complaint," Craft Recordings CRCD03 (1998); Terry Moylan notes) - BS

Like so many of the Irish complaints about France, this is rather unfair (for the context, see the notes to "The Shan Van Vogt"); France had failed utterly at Bantry Bay, but that wasn't Napoleon's fault. And he didn't promise anything to Wolfe Tone or anyone; he knew all along that an Irish invasion wouldn't pay. Had the rebellion of 1798 in fact gone off properly (meaning that the whole country had risen at one time, rather than a handful of uncoordinated local rebellions), the forces Napoleon sent (with General Humbert, Napper Tandy, and Tone; a total of about 4000 men and arms for many more) might well have allowed the Irish to win a pitched battle. But the 1798 rebellion had failed completely before the French arrived.

William Ball was a writer of humorous verse about Irish history; in this index, see "Cockledemoy (The French Invasion)," "Do as They Do in France," "The Dying Rebel," "Faithless Boney (The Croppies' Complaint)" -- though he doesn't seem to have made much impression on the wider world of literature; I have been unable to find any of his writings in any of my literary references. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Moylan 38, "Faithless Bony" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Moyl038


Author: William Ball (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: "shortly after 1798" (according to Moylan)