“The Herring Loves the Moonlight (The Dreg Song)”


"The herring loves the moonlight, The mackerel loves the wind; But the oyster loves the dredging song, For she comes of a gentle kind." The oysters are called, and hearers are urged to buy them.


This is rather a conundrum, though it may be the fault of one or another of the Fisher Family (probably Archie). There is, in Herd, a song beginning "I rade to London yesterday," and continuing

Hay-cock, quo' the seale to the eel,

Cock nae I my tail weel?

Tail-weel, or if hare,

Hunt the dog frae the deer,

This was recorded by Cilla Fisher. The version in the Digital Tradition ends with

The oysters are a gentle kin,

They winna tak unless you sing.

Come buy my oysters aff the bing,

To serve the sheriff and the king,

And the commons o' the land,

And the commons o' the sea;

Hey benedicte, and that's good Latin.

Murray Shoolbraid's Digital Tradition notes imply that this is from another source.

And Archie Fisher has recorded that as "Dreg Song." But he prefaces it with a verse quoted as a Mother Goose rhyme by the Baring-Goulds: "The herring loves the moonlight...." But this is from Walter Scott. So I don't know what genuinely goes with what. For the moment, I'm lumping the whole mess here. - RBW


  1. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #870, p. 325, "(The herring loves the merry moonlight)"
  3. Roud #8628?
  4. BI, BGMG870


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1962 (Baring-Gould-MotherGoose), with related materials going back to at least 1776 (Herd)
Keywords: food fishing