Little Devil (The)
X:1 T:Little Devil, The M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:Thompson - Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (London, 1788, No. 133, p. 67) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A AA/B/ cA|ecaf|edcB|cB/c/ AE|AA/B/ cA|ecaf| edcB |A2 A2:||:EE/F/ GA|BE dc|BE dc| B>c B/A/G/F|EE/F/ GA|BE dc|Bc EG|A2 A,2:|]
LITTLE DEVIL, THE. AKA and see "Plaisirs de le Societe (Les)." English, Country Dance (2/4 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title may refer to the 'little devil' term of bemused endearment that one might call a child or old person. The title also may or may not refer to one of a few period performers who called themselves by the sobriquet of "The Little Devil." John Watlen's Celebrated Circus Tunes (1791) makes reference to a performer called "The Little Devil," who was one Giles Sutton, a late 18th/early 19th century equestrian, acrobat and dancer who often performed at the Royal Circus and similar venues. Sutton began his career with Hughes' Royal Circus in St. George's Fields around 1785. He was advertised in 1793 with Astley's Royal Circus as "Mr. Giles Sutton, the original Little Devil," who would "ride with his head upon the saddle, full speed, likewise will leap over a garter placed in four different parts of the riding school." Tragedy struck in December, 1797, when his mother, actress and singer Miss Froment (1756-1797, who had married an obscure performer named Sutton at the age of 16) drowned along with members of Astley's troupe while crossing St. George's Channel. Giles Sutton also danced in the chorus of British Amazons, and danced Health in Fire and Sprit, pantomimes given at Sadler's Wells in 1803. He was back with the Royal Circus in 1806, acting in pantomimes and performing on horseback, where he continued for some years. [Highfill, Burnim, Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & and Other Stage Personnel in London: 1660-1800, 1991].
The melody, as "The Little Devil" waspublished in Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (1788). However, the exact same melody was published around the same time in Neil Stewart's Select Collection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1 under the title "Plaisirs de le Societe (Les)" amongst a substantial section of French-titled tunes. Which came first, or the relationship between the two, is not known.