Forest of Bondi

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FOREST OF BONDI. See "Forest de Bondi." English?, Country Dance (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune, titled after a forest near Paris, France, has a long history in New England. It was published in Alvan Robinson's Massachusetts Collection of Martial Musick (3rd ed., 1824, p. 43), and it appears in a musician's manuscript copy-book called the Read Manuscript, from New Haven, Connecticut, dated 1798. As "Forest de Bondi-Square Dance," the tune was in the repertoire list of Maine fiddler Mellie Dunham (Bronner, 1987). The elderly Dunham was Henry Ford's champion fiddler in the late 1920's. Howe (c. 1867) prints instructions for a contra-dance to the tune.

The title perhaps refers to a once well-known tale of canine attachment that is said to have occurred during the reign of Charles V. It is a tale sure to have resonated with romantic Victorian sensibilites:

A gentleman named Macaire, an officer of the king's body-guard, entertained, for some reason, a bitter hatred against another gentleman, named Aubry de Montdidier, his comrade in service. These two having met in the Forest of Bondi, near Paris, Macaire took an opportunity of treacherously murdering his brother officer, and buried him in a ditch. Montdidier was unaccompanied at the moment, excepting by a dog with which he had gone out, perhaps to hunt. It is not known whether the dog was muzzled, or from what other cause it permitted the deed to be accomplished without its interference. Be this as it might, the hound lay down on the grave of its master, and there remained till hunger compelled it to rise. It then went to the kitchen of one of Aubry de Montdidier's dearest friends, where it was welcomed warmly, and fed. As soon as its hunger was appeased, the dog disappeared. For several days this coming and going was repeated, till at last the curiosity of those who saw its movements was excited, and it was resolved to follow the animal, and see if anything could be learned in explanation of Montdidier's sudden disappearance. The dog was accordingly followed, and was seen to come to a pause on some newly-turned-up earth, where it set up the most mournful wailings and howlings. These cries were so touching, that passengers were attracted; and finally digging into the ground at the spot, they found there the body of Aubry de Montdidier. It was raised and conveyed to Paris, where it was soon afterwards interred in one of the city's cemeteries.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Hardings All Round Collection, 1905; No. 132, p. 41 (appears as "Forest of Bondy"). Howe (Musician's Omnibus, No. 1), 1862; p. 46. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 81 (appears as "Forest of Bondi").

Recorded sources:

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