Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WOULD YOU HAVE A YOUNG VIRGIN (a/k/a “Poor Robin’s Maggot”)

This tune is a favorite of The Musick of Prescott’s Battalion.  Two harmony parts compliment the melody, rendering the piece a lovely work of art, despite the naughty name.

The tune has been variously used over many years in application to different songs and lyrics, but they all keep referring back to the use of this tune, until Thomas D’Urfey, who wrote these lyrics, refers to an earlier tune called “Poor Robin’s Maggot,” which was published in John Playford’s various volumes of The English Dancing Master, the first publication of which was in 1651.  Later issues of Playford’s volumes print this tune with both names in the title.  Playford was born 30 years earlier than D’Urfey, but they both shared 37 years of the end of the 17th Century, and obviously knew each other’s work, whether or not they knew each other personally. Playford’s son Henry took over the music publishing house when John died in 1686. John Young continued to run the firm after Henry died in 1707. No matter the publisher, however, the dancing manual has continued to be called Playford’s The Dancing Master.

Would you have a young virgin of fifteen years,
You must tickle her fancy with sweets and dears,
Ever toying, and playing, and sweetly, sweetly,
Sing a love sonnet, and charm her Ears.
Wittily, prettily talk her down,
Chase her, and praise her, if fair or brown,
Sooth her, and smooth her,
And teize her, and please her,
And touch but her smicket, and all's your own.

Do you fancy a widow well known in a man,
With a front of assurance come boldly on,
Let her rest not an hour, but briskly, briskly,
Put her in mind of how time steals on.
Rattle and prattle although she groan,
Rouse her and touse her from morn till noon,
Show her some hour
You're able to grapple
Then get but her writing's and all's your own.

Do you fancy a lass of a humour free?
That's kept by a fumbler of quality,
You must rail at her keeper and tell her, tell her,
Pleasure's best charm is variety.
Swear her more fairer than all the town
Try her and ply her when cully's gone
Dog her and jog her
And meet her and treat her
And kiss with two guineas and all's your own.

A Song in the last act of the “Modern Prophets”
Written by Thomas D'Urfey, 1709
tune: Poor Robin's Maggot
[Found on the website of Mudcat Café]

The music for this piece can be found at the "Poor Robin's Maggot" link below. The 3-part version that The Musick of Prescott's Battalion plays is found here.

Thomas D'Urfey
Between 1698 and 1717, D’Urfey published several editions (other sources say he published several volumes in this time) of Wit and Mirth: Pills to Purge Melancholy, which include “Virgin.”  Apparently “Poor Robin’s Maggot” is the actual tune, predating the lyrics of “Virgin,” to which these words to “Virgin” were applied.  D’Urfey lived from 1653 to 1723, and wrote over 500 songs and 32 plays.

“Thomas D'Urfey was one of the most prolific and popular poets and musicians of his age, famous for his comic skills. He entertained five monarchs and wrote over 32 plays and 500 songs. He published the several-volume work, Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, which included his songs and others as well as older airs and ballads. … Ten of the 68 airs in [John Gay’s] The Beggar's Opera (1728) are D'Urfey's songs. Many were popular well into the nineteenth century.  …  His songs were often labeled as vulgar - not without reason. One of his popular songs was The Fart; Famous for its Satyrical Humour in the Reign of Queen Anne.[from Robert Keller’s “The Contemplator’s Short Biography” at]

The 1718 Playford edition of Dancing Master has written instructions on how to dance “Poor Robin’s Maggot” a/k/a “Would You Have A Young Virgin,” through the website edited by Robert Keller, noted below.  The tune that The Musick of Prescott’s Battalion plays is only minimally different from what Playford printed; a couple notes are different, and some notes are not dotted, but otherwise they are identical.

There are at least seven dances referred to in this Playford manuscript that are called a “maggot” or “maggot.” Here, this word refers to a line dance.

Various dictionaries give the definition of “magot” as “the Barbary ape”, also referring to the Old French word “magos” for a kind of monkey.  Another definition given is “a fanciful, often grotesque figurine in the Japanese or Chinese style rendered in a crouching position.”  Originally from Magog, a name of a biblical land (Ezekiel 38–39) and tribe (Revelation 20:8–9), used as an emblem of ugliness in medieval romances. “Magget” or “magotte” are among other spelling variations. (There is a connection here to the word “magazine,” which is still obscure to the OED.) The OED lists “maggot” not only as the larval form of a fly, but also as 1) a whimsical fancy or idea, 2) fancifulness, 3) a word used in the names of old dance tunes, and 4) a capricious person. [Oxford English Dictionary]

It’s my speculation only, but from the description of jumping in the dance below, perhaps the “crouching” description of the monkey or figurine above gives the dance its name. - SMC

John Playford
John Playford (1623-1686), a music publisher and bookseller, produced a new book called The English Dancing Master in London in 1651. This volume contained the figures and the tunes for 105 English country dances, the first printing of these group social dances that were to dominate Western ballrooms for the next 150 years.

Playford’s slim volume sold quickly and he issued a second edition with nine additional dances the next year. Two editions of a third appeared in 1657 and 1665. He dropped the term “English” in the second edition and thereafter the books were simply called The Dancing Master.

The series eventually grew to eighteen editions of the first volume (1651–1728), four of a second (1710–1728), and two of a third (1719?–1726?) and long out-lived its originator. The three volumes eventually encompassed 1,053 unique dances and their music. Many were copied from one edition to the next so that the entire contents, with duplicates, amounts to 6,217 dances, including 186 tunes without dances and 3 songs (“Dunmore Kate,” “Mr. Lane's Magot,” and “The Quakers Dance”).
By Robert M. Keller
Copyright © 2000 Country Dance and Song Society, Inc.

Poor Robin's Maggot
Music for Poor Robin's Maggot can be seen online at Robert M. Keller's The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium

Instructions for the dance were as follows:

“Longways for as many as will.

Note: Each Strain is to be played twice.

The 1st. Man and 2d. Wo. meet and give a Jump, the 2d. Man and 1st. Wo. do the same then all four take Hands and go round. All four lead forward and back again, the 1st. Cu. cross over and turn Hands. The 1st. Cu. slide up behind the 2d. Cu. and stop, then slide into their own [?Places], meet and Kiss, then cast off. The 2d. Cu. slide down and stop, then slide and Kiss, as the 1st. Cu. did, and cast up.

“Or thus: The 1st. Cu. cast off behind the 2d. Co. and lead thro' the 3d. Cu. and cast up and turn. The 2d. Cu. do the same. The 1st. Man change with the 2d. Wo. and the 2d. Man with the 1st. Wo. Then go half round and cast off, and Right and Left quite round.”

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