minstrel: Tom O' Bedlam, Calino

Lisa and Ken Theriot lnktheriot at cox.net
Thu Jan 23 07:48:31 PST 2003


As Greg said, the trouble with dating this song is the large number of
variants.  Chappell (Old English Popular Music) goes on for pages.  The
first important thing to know is that the "Mad Maudlin goes on dirty
toes" version, which is the one you hear most often, comes from "Pills
to Purge Melancholy" (as "Mad Maudlin to find out Tom of Bedlam", vol.
II, p. 192) and dates only to 1700/1707:

To find my Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand years I'll travel
Mad Maudlin goes, with dirty toes,
To save her shoes from gravel
Yet will I sing, Bonny boys, bonny mad boys
Bedlam boys are bonny
They still go bare, and live by the air,
And want no drink nor money

Mad Maudlin makes an earlier appearance in "Wit and Drollery" in 1656:

Forth from the Elysian fields
A place of restless souls
Mad Maudlin is come to seek her naked Tom
Hell's fury she controls...

The opening verse given with the early tune is:

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