The Tight Little Island

Melody - & text: Thomas John Dibdin

Daddy Neptune one day to Freedom did say,
"If ever I live upon dry land,
The spot I should hit on would be little Britain."
Says Freedom, "Why that's my own Island."
Oh! what a snug little Island,
A right little, tight little Island!
All the globe round, none can be found
So happy as this little Island.

Julius Caesar, the Roman, who yielded to no man,
Came by water, he couldn't come by dry land;
And Dane, Pict and Saxon, their homes turn'd their backs on,
And all for the sake of our Island,
Oh, what a snug little Island,
They'd all have a touch at the Island;
Some were shot dead - some of them fled,
And some stay'd to live in the Island.

Then a very great war-man, called Billy the Norman,
Cried "Hang it! I never liked my land;
It would be much more handy to leave this Normandy,
And live on yon beautiful Island." Says he,
"'Tis a snug little Island, Shan't us go visit the Island?"
Hop, skip and jump, - there he was plump,
And he kick'd up a dust in the Island.

Yet party deceit helped the Normans to beat,
Of traitors they managed to buy land;
By Dane, Saxon, or Pict, we ne'er had been lick'd,
Had they stuck to the King of the Island,
Poor Harold, the King of the Island,
He lost both his life and his Island;
That's very true - what could he do?
Like a Briton he died for his Island.

Then the Spanish Armada set out to invade a,
Quite sure if they ever came nigh land;
They couldn't do less than tuck up Queen Bess,
And take their full swing in the Island.
Oh! the poor Queen and the Island,
The drones came to plunder the Island,
But snug in her hive, the Queen was alive,
And buzz was the word in the Island.

These proud, puffed-up cakes thought to make ducks and drakes,
Of our wealth: but they scarcely could spy land,
Ere our Drake had the luck to make their pride duck,
And stoop to the lads of the Island.
Huzza! for the lads of the Island;
The good wooden walls of the Island;
Devil or Don, let 'em come on,
But how'd they come off at the Island!

I don't wonder much that the French and the Dutch
Have since been oft tempted to try land,
And I wonder much less they have met no success,
For why should we give up our Island?
Oh! 'tis a wonderful Island,
All of 'em long for the Island;
Hold a bit there, let'em take fire and air,
But we'll have the sea and the Island.

Then since Freedom and Neptune have hitherto kept tune
In each saying, "This shall be my land
Oh the Army of England to all they could bring land,
Would show'em some play for our Island.
We'd fight for our right to the Island,
We'd give'em enough of the Island;
Invaders should just - bite at the dust
But not a bit more of the Island.

Thomas John Dibdin was the second of two illegitimate sons of the great Charles Dibdin, the composer of 'Tom Bowling'. Both boys were brought up by a rich uncle under their mother's name, Pitt, although they later assumed the name of their famous father and were both involved in composition and playwriting for Sadlers Wells and Covent Garden. Tom was born in 1771 and was apprenticed to a London upholsterer. He ran away, however, to Eastbourne where he started on his theatrical career. Of his 2,000 or so songs and 200 operas and plays, it is probably 'The Tight Little Island' from his show The British Taft (1797) that is best remembered today. Tom Dibdin's career, like his father's, had its financial ups and downs. He lost everything through his own mismanagement of the Surrey Theatre in 1822, but survived until 1841.

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