Master Jackey Wagtail

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MASTER JACKEY WAGTAIL. AKA - "Jackey Wagtail," "Jacky Wagtail." English, Jig. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody was first published by John Johnson in his A Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 8 (London, 1753, p. 92) as "Jackey Wagtail," and was subsequently picked up by London publishers Peter, Charles and Samuel Thompson for various c. 1757 dance collections. Jacky Wagtail is described in Edwrd Beetham's New Lectures on Heads, Describing the Characters, Passions, Morals, Fashions, Follies, Virtues, Vices and Absurdities Incident to Human Life (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1785)

First, I shall consider a race of men, who, as they are intirely different from the rest of the world in their conversation, their dress and manner of behaviour, I shall distinguish under the title of BUTTERFLIES. I now beg leave to recite a conversation between four of these rulers of the female heart, transmitted to me by a friend, verbatim et literatim. The party was Jacky Wagtail, Tommy Trinket, Sir Fanciful Fringe, and Lord Lofty. These four soft delicate creatures were set down to a comfortable game at whist one Sunday afternoon. (they being so full of business the other six days of the week that they could not find a moment to spare to unbend the mind by this fashionable amusement.) Jacky Wagtail and my Lord Lofty were partners, they enjoyed the greatest tranquility for the two first deals; but unfortunately in the third, a most violent dispute arose between Jacky and his Lordship on the latter losing the odd trick, and if the other two had not interposed, they would have scratched each other's face in the most terrible manner. Cries Jacky, why, my Lord, did not you ruff the diamond! It was not the play, says my Lord....Give me leave to tell you, it was, cried Jacky, somewhat hasty....Gads curse me if I would play with you for pins, don't you know what Hoyle says on this subject?

"If A and B are partners, and the game nine all, A and B have four tricks, C and D five tricks; A leads a spade, C puts on a queen, B trumps it, D passes it, B returns a club and puts on the four of trumps, A the five." Thus, this interesting dispute is settled by studying Hoyle's important treatise, and sorry am I to say, it is the only treatise that is studied.

In another period work, he is in like company with "Phil Whiffle, Jacky Wagtail, my Lord Trip, Billy Dimple, Sir Dilbery Diddle, and your humble— Biddy." During the French and Indian War one disgusted subordinate commented that his superior officer was "the most Shilly Shally, Whistly Wally, Jacky Wagtail that ever my Eyes beheld...He gives our Serjt Major half a dozen Contradictory orders of a morning and at last gives out none at all..."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (Two Hundred Favourite Country Dances, vol. 8), London, 1758; p. 94. Thompson (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1757), 1757; p. 78. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1), 1757; No. 156, p. 78.

Recorded sources:




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