History of the United States Patent Office
The Patent Office Pony
A History of the Early Patent Office
Musical Interlude

[Pg 30]

During the presidency of George Washington, when Oliver Ellsworth was Chief Justice of the United States, about 1796, Washington visited Ellsworth in his home at Windsor, Connecticut. While he was there, when the dinner hour arrived, the Ellsworths searched for the President. They found him in the upper chamber [footnote 1] with Oliver Ellsworth's five-year-old twin sons, Billy and Harry, one on each knee, bouncing them up and down while singing them a blood-curdling ditty called "The Darby Ram." Billy would become William W. Ellsworth, Governor of Connecticut. Harry would become Henry L. Ellsworth, the first Commissioner of Patents. Oliver Ellsworth would later resign the office of Chief Justice of the United States to take on the then more important job of Chief Justice of Connecticut.

[Page 30 illustration: Music for the Darby Ram]
[Pg 31]
The Darby (Derby) Ram was originally an English folk song, [footnote 2] and was later adapted and modified to suit the American experience. There are so many different versions of the lyrics, and even minor variations in the tune, that it would be impossible at this date to be certain which version the President sang. About a hundred years ago, the song had been so thoroughly Americanized that it became a ragtime classic, [footnote 3] and later a jazz classic, called "Oh Didn't He Ramble."

One version of the tune and lyrics is given here:


As I went down to Darby, Sir, 'twas on a market day,
I saw the finest ram, Sir, that ever was fed on hay.

And indeed, Sir, 'tis true, Sir, I never was taught to lie,
And if you'd been to Darby, Sir, you'd have seen him the same as I.

He had four feet to walk on, Sir, he had four feet to stand
And every foot he had, Sir, did cover an acre of land.

Repeat Chorus

The horns that grew on his head, Sir, they grew up to the sky,
And eagles built their nests there, for I heard the young ones cry.

Repeat Chorus

The wool that grew on his tail, Sir, filled more than fifty bags,
You'd better keep away, Sir, when that tail shakes and wags.

Repeat Chorus

The tail that hung behind him, was fifty yards and an ell
And that was sent to Darby, to ring the town church bell

Repeat Chorus

The man that killed the ram, Sir, was drowned, Sir, in the flood,
The boy who held the bowl, Sir, was washed away by blood.

Repeat Chorus

The man that owned the ram, Sir, I think is very rich,
And the boy who wrote this song, Sir, is a lying son of a bitch

Repeat Chorus
[Pg 32]
In the London of 1798, one of the most prominent theaters was the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. This was the first of a series of theaters on this site and was opened in 1732. The latest theater on the site is still in operation as the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Joseph Shepherd Munden (1758-1832) was an actor at the Covent Garden Theatre from 1790 to 1811, becoming the most celebrated comedian of his day. [footnote 4] On April 20, 1798, he opened as Robin in The Waterman. That evening, in connection with this play, probably in the intervals between scenes, he introduced a lively upbeat song entitled Patents all the Rage.

The introduction to the printed version of this song reads:

A New Comic Song
Sung by Mr. Munden
at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden
with Universal applause
Written & Adapted to the Well known Tune
By James Payne
Author of the Herefordshire Song &c &c
Entered at Stationers Hall Price 1s
London. Printed by Holland & Jones No 23 Bishopsgate Street

The lyrics and music for the song follow:

In every clime and at every time some fashions have had sway,
And curious strange and simple things by turns have had their day,
No wonder then in this great Town in such a polished age, Sir,
When art and genius are combined that patents are the rage, Sir.
No wonder then in this great Town in such a polished age, Sir,
When art and genius are combined that patents are the rage, Sir.

Our Clothes our physic and our Food, with many queer utensils,
Must all be marked with Patent Stamps like warming Pans and Pencils,
In mentioning the various Arts you'll think I'm ringing changes,
We've Jacks and Grates and Kitchens too, and also Kitchen ranges.

Repeat Chorus
[Pg 33]
We have Patent fleecy hosiery will open every pore,
And such ills as Gout and Rheumatism soon kick out of Door,
We've also Pills to cure or kill, Perfumes to please your Noses,
With Lozenges and currant drops, and Warrens Milk of Roses.

Repeat Chorus

In Paternoster Row, we have a Patent Book of knowledge,
What pity 'tis not infused among our Blades at College,
Then by Patent they could preach or pray, and wisdom ne'er lacking,
Would shine like Boots and Shoes well blacked by Baily's Patent Blacking.

Repeat Chorus

We've a Patent Urn and a Patent Churn, with Candlesticks and Snuffers,
But some are rude enough to call the inventors only puffers,
Tho in execution Week now to prevent domestic wrangle,
The Men may get the washing up with patent Mill and Mangle.

Repeat Chorus

Was Phaeton now with the Sun to run his course again Sir,
With patent Harness Wheels and Whip, divinely made by Men Sir,
His days work He with ease may do guide the Sun safe to Bed Sir,
And light the World with patent Lamps, to shine forth in its stead Sir.

Repeat Chorus

Lord Chesterfield said to his Son, mind grace in all you do Sir,
Even paring of your pretty nails, or buckling of your Shoe Sir,
And when seated on a private seat, there leaving a deposit,
That Business you may do with grace, in a patent water Closet.

Repeat Chorus

Then we have got true Patent Shot, with Gun powder and Gigs Sir,
We've patent Cauls and patent Hair and Ladies patent Wigs Sir,
There's patent Paste will lather in haste, Razors to please all Faces,
But the most pleasing of these pleasing things, are pretty patent places.

Repeat Chorus

We've Medicines by Patent, in every Street now sold Sir,
Which if you'd take you'd live as long as the Patriarchs of old Sir,
But enemies to Physic at such blessings will be scoffing,
And die just to enjoy the sweets of a good snug patent Coffin.

Repeat Chorus

[Pg 34] [Full page 34 illustration: Music for Patents all the Rage]

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