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COUNTRY GARDEN(S). AKA and see "Blue Eyed Stranger (1) (The)," "Vicar of Bray (The)." English, Air and Morris Dance Tune (4/4 time). F Major (Karpeles): G Major (Barnes, Mallinson): D Major (Chappell). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Chappell): AABB, x4 (Bacon-Fieldtown, Barnes, Mallinson): AABBCCB'B'(Karpeles): AA'BBB (Bacon-Bampton). The song was first presented in 1728 in stage production The Quaker's Opera and subsequently appeared many other ballad operas of the 18th century. It was later included in Daniel Wright's Compleat Tutor for Ye Flute (c. 1735).
Fuld (1966) notes that Chappell included two versions in an early work on English airs (A Collection of National English Airs, London, 1838-1840) which "provide an interesting link between the 1728 version and the 'Handerchief Dance" (i.e. morris dance) tune collected by Cecil J. Sharp and Hervert C. MacIlwaine in 1907 and popularized by Percy Grainger in 1919." Indeed the morris versions were in use in tradition among dance musicians into the 20th century, a tradition which continues today. Mallinson's morris version is from the Fieldtown (Leafield, Oxfordshire) area of England's Cotswolds; Bacon gives morris versions from Bampton, Field Town, Headington, and Longborough. Kidson says the tune was used by morris dancers in Oxfordshire, where a fragment of the original song was remembered:
Madam, if you please
Will you buy a peck of peas
Out of my fine country garden?
Sharp (1907) calls the tune for the song "Vicar of Bray (The)" a 'free rendering' of "Country Gardens," and remarks: "Needless to say, the peasants do not sing and, probably, never have sung the 'Vicar of Bray'. Leaving out of account the tune, which lacks the spontaneity, artlessness and spirit of the genuine folk-melody, the words would not appeal to them" (see note for "Vicar of Bray"). The marriage of the words of "The Vicar of Bray" and the tune "Country Gardens" occurred in the late 18th century, appearing first in the publications Convivial Songster (1782) and Ritson's English Songs (1783). Parodies soon appeared, one called "A Gallon a Day" printed on music sheets. Edward Rushton used the melody for his song "The Neglected Tar."
Source for notated version: Arnold Woodley (Bampton) [Bacon].
Printed sources: Bacon (The Morris Ring), 1974; pp. 50, 150, 185, 248. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 24. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times), vol. 2, 1859; pp. 122-123. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 33. Mallinson (Mally's Cotswold Morris Book), 1988, vol.2; No. 16, p. 10. Neal ( Espérance Morris Book), 1910; p. 21. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 75. Sharp (English Folk-Song), 1907; pp. 112-113.