Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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REIGNS OF JAMES I. AND CHARLES I.                               335
and will talk frantickly of purpose: you see pins stuck in sundry places of his naked flesh, especially in his arms, which pain he gladly puts himself to (being, indeed, no torment at all, his skin is either so dead with some foul disease, or so hardened with weather, only to make you believe he is out of his wits): he calls himself by the name of Poor Torn, and coming near any body, cries out, Poor Tom is a cold. Of these Abraham men, some be exceeding merry, and do nothing but sing songs, fashioned out of their own brains, some will dance; others will do nothing but either laugh or weep; others are dogged, and are sullen both in look and speech, that, spying but a small company in a house, they boldly and bluntly enter, compelling the servants through fear to give them what they demand, which is commonly Bacon, or some­thing that will yield ready money.'"
The song of Tom of Bedlam is alluded to in Ben Jonson's The Devil is an Ass, 1616, act v., sc. 2. When Pug wishes to be thought mad, he says, " Your best song's Thorn o'Bet'lem."
• The following copy of the tune is from a manuscript volume of virginal music, formerly in the possession of Mr. Windsor, of Bath, and now in that of Dr. Rimbault. It is entitled Tom a Bedlam. The words are from Bishop Corbet's song, The distracted Puritan, which is printed entire in Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry.

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