Back to Midnight Frolick
MIDNIGHT FROLICK. English, Jig. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). The tune was printed by London publishers John Walsh in his Caledonian Country Dances, and by John Johnson in 'A Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 4 (1748, p. 85). The following passage from Charles Rogers' Social Life in Scotland (1884, p. 71) gives something of the goings on at a 'midnight frolick' (a term that is also mentioned by Shakespeare).
About a century ago a, custom prevailed at Edinburgh known as "saving the ladies." When after any fashionable assembly the male guests had conducted their fair partners to their homes, they returned to the supper-room. Then one of the number would drink to the health of the lady he professed specially to admire, and in so doing empty his glass. Another gentleman would name another lady, also drinking a bumper in her honour. The former would reply by swallowing a second glass to his lady, followed by the other, each combatant persisting till one of the two fell upon the floor. Other couples followed in like fashion. These drinking competitions were regarded with much interest by gentlewomen, who next morning enquired as to the prowess of their champions. By the famous Henry Erskine this degrading practice was stoutly resisted. He composed in ridicule of it a scourging satire, which thus concluded-
"So the gay youth, at midnight's frolick hour
Stung by the truant love's all-conquering power,
Vows from damnation her he loves to save,
Or on the floor to find an early grave;
Anon; the table's feet supine to lie,
And for Miss Molly's sake to drink or die."
Source for notated version: