minstrel: Tom O'Bedlam

Dick Eney dickeney at access.digex.net
Fri Feb 7 15:29:09 PST 1997

On Fri, 7 Feb 1997, Heather Rose Jones wrote:

> I'm finding all the various versions fascinating, but I'm rather
> frustrated by the lack of attributions for most of them. Would it be
> possible for people to give the sources for the version(s) they post? I
> note that the song is referred to as "pre-Shakespearean" (presumably
> because it is referenced by him) but the earliest date mentioned in
> reference to a particular version was early 18th century. Do we actually
> have a Shakespearean-era version or even fragment?
> Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

Milady, you are not the only one to ask for documentation.

Unfortunately, when I collected the complete version of what I
believe is the "original" anonymous lyric, it was over twenty years ago,
before I was in the habit of writing down sources and before I could
afford to buy large books for the sake of one or two pages.  Since my copy
was typed on a manual typewriter, I believe I copied the words out
longhand from somewhere; whether that was a library pre-Xerox machine era,
or a bookstore (scribbling rapidly while looking around to be sure the
clerks weren't approaching), I don't know.  At the time I was collecting
versions of Tam Lin from things like the Oxford Book of English Verse
(which is not where I got the Tom O'Bedlam words).  However, I feel
certain that it was something reasonably scholarly, and that the version I
collected was attested to be an in-period version and the one to which
Shakespeare referred.  I wish I could be more specific, but I can't. 

BTW, the early-18th-C date mentioned was for a spinoff, "Mad Maudlin's
Search", not for "Tom O'Bedlam" itself.

PS the tune commonly used for Mad Maudlin is modern, not the one published
in D'Urfey's _Pills to Purge Melancholy_.

=Tamar the Gypsy (sharing account dickeney at access.digex.net)

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