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Mon Nov 1 19:54:25 PST 2004


That into rags would rend yee
And the spirit that stands by the naked man
In the booke of moones defend yee
While I do sing any foode, any feeding,
Feeding, drinke or clothing
Come dame or maid, be not afraid
Poore Tom will injure nothing.


The tune with the "dirty toes" version is also described as "an
imperfect copy" of the earlier tune, which is pretty charitable, since
to my ear it is VERY different, though you can see similarities.
Chappell gives the music from a "MS. of Virginal Music in the possession
of Dr. Rimbault; Musick's Delight on the Cithren, 1666, &c.", which
stands a good chance of being the original broadside tune, so if you
can't find Simpson, perhaps you can find Chappell (I got mine off eBay
for $5, a very happy steal...).  Failing that, I can try to scan it and
send it to you, or send a copy via snail mail.

According to the notes in Chappell, the "Tom of Bedlam" character became
popular after the dissolution of religious houses by Henry VIII, which
action caused lots of infirm of mind to wander the countryside who were
formerly cared for in alms houses by convents and monasteries.
Apparently otherwise healthy layabouts discovered that running around
half naked and sticking pins in your flesh was a good way to make a
living (if you've ever seen the Monty Python sketch about professional
village idiots, it's not as far off as it sounds).  A class of beggars,
called variously "Tom's flock of wild geese", "Poor Toms", and "Abraham
Men" were described in _Bellman of London_ in 1616.


On an unrelated note, I don't know why I didn't check Chappell when I
was looking up Calino Casturame, but he preserves an Anglicized Gaelic
title of "Colleen Oge Astore", which is clearly <Caoilinn O/g> for the
first part.  My best guess is for the full title would be "Caoilinn o/g
na h-astair mi", 'my fair young lady (whom I love) at a distance from
me'.
 

Adelaide





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