Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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334                                   ENGLISH BONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
Among the King's Pamphlets in the British Museum there are two songs to this tune. The first (by a loyal Cavalier) is " Mad Tom a Bedlam's desires of ' Peace: Or his Benedicities for distracted England's Restauration to her wits again. By a constant though unjust sufferer (now in prison) for His Majesties' just Regality and his Country's Liberty. S.F.W.B." (Sir Francis Wortley, Bart.) This is in the sixth vol. of folio broadsides, and dated June 27, 1648. " Poor Tom hath been imprison'd,            Yet still he cries for the King, for the good
With strange oppressions vexed ;               Tom loves brave confessors; [King;
He dares boldly say, they'try'd each way But he curses those that dare their King de-Wherewith Job was perplexed.                Committees and oppressors." &c. [pose,
This has been reprinted in "Wright's Political Ballads, for the Percy Society, p. 102; and in the same volume, p. 183, is another, taken from the fifteenth vol. of broadsides, entitled "A new Ballade, to an old tune,Tom of Bedlam" dated January 17, 1659, and commencing, " Make room for an honest red-coat."
Besides these, we have, in Wit and Drollery, 1682, p. 184, Loving Mad Tom, commencing, " I'll bark against the dog-star;" and many other mad-songs in the Roxburghe Collection, such as " The Mad Man's Morrice;" " Love's Lunacie, or Mad Besses Vagary;" &c, &c.
Bishop Percy has remarked that " the English have more songs on the subject of madness, than any of their neighbours." For this the following reason has been assigned by Mr. Payne Collier, in a note to Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, ii. 4:
" After the dissolution of the religious houses, where the poor of every denomination were provided for, there was for many years no settled or fixed provision made to supply the want of that care which those bodies appear always to have taken of their distressed brethren. In consequence of this neglect, the idle and dissolute were suffered to wander about the country, assuming such characters as they imagined were most likely to insure success to their frauds, and security from detection. Among other disguises, many affected madness, and were distinguished by the name of Bedlam Beggars. These are mentioned by Edgar, in'Xing Bear: " The country gives me proof and precedent, Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices, Stick in their numb'd and mortify'd bare arms Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary; And, with this horrible object, from low farms, Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills, Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayer, Inforce their charity." In Dekker's Bellman of London, 1616, all the different species of beggars are enumerated. Amongst the rest are mentioned Tom of Bedlam's band of mad caps, otherwise called Poor Tom's fioek of wild geese (whom here thou seest by his black and blue naked arms to be a man beaten to the world), and those wild geese, or hair brains, are called Abraham men. An Abraham man is afterwards described in this manner: ' Of all the mad rascals (that are of this wing) the Abraham man is the most fantastick. The fellow (quoth this old Lady of the Lake unto me) that sate half naked (at table to-day) from the girdle upward, is the best Abraluim man that ever came to my house, and the notablcst villain : he swears he hath been in Bedlam,

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III