Annotation:Bob of Dunblane (2)

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X:1 T:Bob of Dumblane [sic] T:Bob of Dunblane [2], The M:6/8 L:1/8 B:Alexander Stuart – “Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection of Scots B:Songs, part 3” (Edinburgh, c. 1724, pp. 64-65) F: Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Gmin V:1 g|^fdd dgg|^fdd ecc|^fdd dgg|^fdd G2:| |:G|Bcd cBA|Bcd AFA|Bcd cA^f|gGG G2:| V:2 clef = bass G,,|D,2D,, B,,2G,,|D,2B,, C,2A,,|D,2D,, G,,2B,,|D,2 D,, G,,2:| |:z|G,2B, A,2F,|G,A,B, F,2F,,|G,,2B,, A,,2D,|G,D,B,, G,,2:|

BOB OF DUNBLANE [2], THE. Scottish, Air (6/8 time). E Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. To bob in Scots dialect is 'to dance', and the title can be understood as 'the dance of Dunblane'; however, in Allan Ramsay's and other usage it is a euphemism for the sex act. "Bob of Dunblane" was collected by poet Allan Ramsay and published his Tea Table Miscellany (1724, p. 337[1]) and in his A New Miscellany of Scots Songs (London, 1727), although the song itself predates him.

Lassie, lend me your braw hemp heckle,
And I'll lend you my thripling kame;
For fainness, deary, I'll gar ye keckle,
If ye'll go dance the Bob of Dunblane.
Haste ye, gang to thee ground of ye'r trunkies,
Busk ye braw, and dinna think shame;
Consider in time, if leading of monkies
Be better than dancing the Bob of Dunblane.

Be frank, my lassie, lest I grow fickle,
And take my word and offer again;
Syne ye may chance to repent it meikle
Ye did na accept of the Bob of Dunblane.
The dinner, the piper, and priest, shall be ready,
And I'm grown dowie with lying my lane;
Away then, leave baith minny and daddy,
And try with me the Bob of Dunblane.

Poet Robert Burns crafted a ribald adaptation that goes:

Lassie, lend me your braw hemp-heckle,
And I'll lend you my thripplin kame;
My heckle is broken, it canna be gotten,
And we'll gae dance the Bob o' Dumblane.

Twa gaed to the wood, to the wood, to the wood,
Twa gaed to the wood, three cam hame:
An't be na weel bobbit, weel bobbit, weel bobbit,
An't be na weel bobbit, we'll bob it again.

David McGuinness points out that the songs in Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany really was intended for by sung for entertainment by young women at a tea-table party, but that even the original words to "Bob of Dunblane" did not lack for sexual content. The "leading of monkies" [monkeys] in line 7 of the first stanza, he explains, is a warning of the dire consequences of female celibacy, and that the those who don't take part in 'the dance of Dunblane' "will be doomed to mate with apes in hell for all eternity"[1][2] .

The song also has Jacobite associations, for Dunblane is two miles south of Sheriffmuir, the scene of the battle fought in 1715 by the Jacobites under the Earl of Mar, and the Royalist forces of the Duke of Argyle. The outcome was that both of the right wings of each army were victorious, defeating the other's left wing, yet Argyle carried the field. When someone remarked to the Duke that the rebels would probably claim the victory, he replied:

If it wasna weel bobbit, weel bobbit, weel bobbit,
If it wasna weel bobbit, we'll bobb it again.

A reference to the well-known old song [Black's Picturesque Tourist of Scotland (1842)].

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Alexander Stuart (Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection of Scots Songs, part 3), Edinburgh, c. 1724, pp. 64-65. Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 1), 1733, No. 43, p. 53.

Recorded sources : - Concerto Caledonia - "Shepherds and Tea Tables: Songs of Allan Ramsay" (2023).

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  1. David McGuiness, Booklet to recording "Shepherds and Tea Tables: Songs of Allan Ramsay" (2023).
  2. The proverbial "married women led children in heaven, while old maids led apes in hell" is referred to in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (Act 2, Scene 1) when Katherina says:

    What, will you not suffer me? Nay, now I see,
    She is your treasure, she must have a husband,
    I must dance barefoot on her wedding day
    And for your love to her lead apes in hell.
    Talk not to me. I will go sit and weep
    Till I can find occasion of revenge.