Bumper Squire Jones

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X:1 T:Bumpers Squire Jones M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Air C:Carolan B:Samuel, Anne & Peter Thompson – The Hibernian Muse B:(London, 1787, No. 51, p. 31) N:”A Collection of the most Favorite Compositions of Carolan N:the Celebrated Irish Bard” Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D A|{G}FDD D2E|(F/G/A)F (G/A/B)A|BEE G2A|{G}FDD d2e| f(g/f/e/d/) edc|dBe cAc|dDD D2:| |:a|(f/g/a)f d(f/g/a/f/)|b(g/a/b/g/) e(g/a/b/g/)|afd (e/f/g)e|TcAA A2g| (f/g/a)f geg|a(f/g/a/f/) geg|a(f/g/a/f/) geg|fed TcBc|dDD D2:|



BUMPER(S,) SQUIRE JONES. AKA - "Bumpers Esquire Jones." AKA and see "Thomas Morres Jones." Irish, Air (6/8 time). D Major (Howe, Mulhollan, Thompson): B Flat Major (Haverty): G Major (Grier). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). Alhough not often added, a coma should appear in the title after the first word rendering the title's meaning a cup filled to the brim in toast to Squire Jones ('bumpers'). In fact, "Bumpers all round and no heel taps" was the convivial call to do special honor in drinking a toast. The term bumper has been traced to two sources, both doubtful, says Hawkwood (1909). First, it was thought by some to have derived from the custom of monks drinking to the head of their fraternity as au bon père. The second explanation is that it refers to a glass or cup so filled that it "bumps" up in the middle, the liquid being higher in the centre than at the brim. One drinks a bumper at one draught and is expected to turn it upside down to show that it has been enthusiastically emptied of is contents. The 'heel taps' referred to in the call above is a term derived from a peg in the heel of a shoe, that the shoemaker removed last when work was complete; heel tap in the sense of the toast would be to 'drink up and leave not a drop (heel tap)'.

Thus the song belongs in the group of O'Carolan's bacchanalian compositions, for which he was justly famous, though the English paraphrase of the original Gaelic was not written until 1730 when it was rendered by Arthur Dawson, Baron of the Exchequer. In fact, O'Carolan composed the song prior to October, 1729, according to an entry in the diary of young Charles O'Conor, a harp pupil of the bards, who wrote: "Wednesday, 8th. I got Squire Jones from him today, and no thanks to him for that." There has been some historical speculation that the tune was originally composed by a London dancing master and published by Playford in his Dancing Master, 7th edition (1686) as "Rummer (The)," although Donal O'Sullivan (1958), in his definitive work on O'Carolan, concludes that the commonalities of the two tunes are not enough to sustain the assertion (Alfred Moffat reached the same conclusion). O'Sullivan does conclude that the English lyrics were penned by Dawson and that they are far superior to O'Carolan's "indifferent" Irish lyric. The composition was publicly championed for O'Carolan by Bunting, after he found attributions in the 1780 issue of the bard's tunes by S. Lee and in The Hibernian Muse (c. 1787). The tune is in Himes' reissue of O'Carolan's tunes, c. 1800-10, though Hime did not credit it to the harper when he printed it in New Selection...Original Irish Airs (c. 1800).

The Squire Jones referred to, states Flood (1906), was Thomas Morris Jones of Moneyglass, Co. Leitrim, and not, as Bunting asserts, Mr. Jones of Moneygalss, Co. Antrim. O'Sullivan disagrees with the (often unreliable) Grattan Flood, and identifies the squire as Thomas Morres Jones of Moneyglass House, in the parish of Duneane, County Antrim, although he notes that some writers (Walker, Hardiman) suggest Leitrim or even Sligo locale. Moffat (Minstrelsy of Ireland, 1897) and O'Neill (Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 1913) relate that while enjoying the hospitality of the Squire, Carolan composed a song for him, as was his custom. There are two versions of what happened next, and either a man named Moore or one Baron Dawson, overheard the harper composing in private in his rooms. Thinking to play a jest on the blind bard, the personage (who was musically trained) memorized the melody and even wrote his own words to it, and when O'Carolan played and sang the composition the next day it was vigorously asserted that the melody was not newly composed, but an old song, and the Baron (or Moore) played his version. O'Carolan, of course, flew into one of his famous rages, but was eventually mollified by explanations and not a few toasts. The song was sung the year Squire Jones died by the famous English tenor Thomas Lowe at the Theatre Royal, Aungier Street, Dublin on December 8th, 1743, at a benefit given by Madamoiselle Chateauneuf, and it must have been a showcase number for him as the song with music was printed over a decade later (in 1754) in the Liverpool-published Muses Delight with the note "sung by Mr. Lowe."

The song and tune appear The Gentleman's Magazine (1744) including dance directions along with the note that James (or Jack) Beard sang it in The Provok'd Wife, and song and tune also appear in The Merry Medley, or A Christmas-Box for Gay Gallants and Good Companions, II (1745). The song (without the tune) was printed in The Canary Bird (1745) and the tune was printed by Thumoth in 12 English and 12 Irish Airs (c. 1745) where it is identified as English. Finally, it appears in Henry Brooke's opera Little John and the Giants, performed in Dublin in 1748 as Jack the Giant Queller. In none of the above was a composer or author credited. A reference to the song is made in Smollett's novel Peregrine Pickle (1751).



Ye good fellows all,
Who love to be told where there's claret good store,
Attend to the call of one who's ne'er frighted,
But greatly delighted with six bottles more!

Be sure yell don't pass the good house Monyglass,
Which the jolly red god so peculiarly owns.
'Twill well suit your humour, For pray what would you more,
Than mirth with good claret and bumpers, Squire Jones? ... (attribued to Arthur Baron Dawson)


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Complete Collection of Carolan's Irish Tunes, 1984; No. 65, p. 58. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 1), 1858; No. 15, p. 6. Elias Howe (Musician’s Omnibus Nos. 6 & 7), Boston, 1880-1882; p. 634. Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 2. John Macpherson Mulhollan (Selection of Irish and Scots Tunes), 1804; p. 51. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 230. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 639, p. 114. O'Sullivan (Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper), 1958; No. 65, pp. 136-137. Thumoth (Twelve English and Twelve Irish Airs), 1745; No. 33.

Recorded sources : - Mick O'Brien – "May Morning Dew."




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