Maiden City

John Johnson Marshall
Chapter IV

Commencing with the north, Derry rejoices in the proud title of “The Maiden City,” which commemorates her two heroic sieges, the latter of which afforded Macauley material for one of the most famous passages in his history and also inspired Charlotte Elizabeth’s finest poem:—

“A rampant wall was round her,

The river at her feet;

And here she sat alone, boys,

And looking from the hill,

Vowed a maiden on her throne, boys,

Would be a maiden still.”

Regarding which a writer says:—“A maiden city” is fit theme for rejoicing at a lady’s hands. Thus our fair authoress has a double right to be a spirited chronicler of the spirited defence of that famous old maid Derry—I hope I may say old maid without offence to a city.”

The walls of Derry that did such good service in the defence of the maiden city, serve for a saying regarding any person who is very penurious and close-fisted:—“He’s as hard as Derry walls,” there is a variant of this saying that used to be common:—“As hard as the knockers of Newgate,” referring presumably to the London prison famous in the criminal annals of bygone days.