De'il Take the Wars

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DEIL TAK THE WARS. AKA and see "Deel take the wars," "Devil Take the Wars". English, Scottish, Country Dance Tune (4/4 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody was printed by Henry Playford in his Second Part of the Dancing Master, a supplement to the 9th edition of the Dancing Master published in London in 1696. It appears in all subsequent Dancing Master editions through the 16th (1716). It was also published by John Walsh in his Compleat Country Dancing Master, editions of 1718, 1731 and 1754. Words to the tune were written and published by Thomas D'Urfey in his Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719), but had been created by him considerably earlier for his comedy A Wife for Any Man (1696). While his play was unsuccessful, the song (issued on songsheets by the Playford music publishing firm and others) was a hit, perhaps tapping into the public distaste for the perpetual conflicts England was engaged. The tune was composed by Charles Powell for D'Urfey's play (although Jeremiah Clarke had contributed the lions share of the music), and was later used for other ballad operas, including The Beggar's Wedding (1728), The Cobler's Opera (1729), The Decoy (1733) and others. D'Urfey's words go:

Woe is me, he'll ne'er return;
A thousand Loons abroad will Fight him,
He from thousands ne'er will run;
Day and Night I did invite,
To stay safe from the Sword and Gun:
I us'd alluring Graces,
With muckle kind Embraces,
Now sighing, then Crying, Tears dropping fall;
And had he my soft Arms,
Preferr'd to Wars alarms:
By Love grown Mad, without the Man of Gad,
I fear in my fit, I had granted all.
I Wash'd and Patch'd to make me look provoking,
Snare that they told me wou'd catch the Men;
And on my Head a huge Commode sat cocking,
Which made me shew as Tall agen:
For a new Gown too, I paid muckle Money,
Which with golden Flowers did shine;
My Love well might think me gay and Bonny,
No Scotch Lass was e'er so fine.
My Petticoat I Spotted,
Fring too with Thread I Knotted,
Lace Shoes, and Silk Hose, Garter full over Knee;
But oh! the fatal thought,
To Willy thiese are nought,
Who rid to Towns, and Riflled with Dragoons,
When he sill Loon might have Plunder'd me.

The melody, somewhat altered from the Playford original, appears in the music manuscript collection of musician John Rook (Waverton, 1840), given as "Mark Yonder Pomp of Costly Fashions, or Deil Tak the Wars." While "De'il take the wars" must have been an ancient epithet, Rook's longer title is from a Robert Burns song written in 1795 and set to the melody of "Deil tak the wars," printed by Thomson in the Scots Musical Museum. It begins:

Mark yonder pomp of costly fashion
Round the wealthy, titled bride:
But when compar'd with real passion,
Poor is all that princely pride.
What are the showy treasures?
What are the noisy pleasures?
The gay gaudy glare of vanity and art:
The polish'd jewel's blaze
May draw the wond'ring gaze,
And courtly grandeur bright
The faney may delight,
But never, never can come near the heart.

Burns's song was one of the group of Scots songs sent by Thomson to Ludwig van Beethoven, who arranged a setting for it [6 Songs of Various Nationalities WoO 158c].

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Barlow (Compleat Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 374, p. 89. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 28. Christian (The Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 24. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 164.

Recorded sources: Flying Fish FF358, Robin Williamson - "Legacy of the Scottish Harpers." Wildgoose Records Belshazzar's Feast - "Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance, vol. 2."




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