Mousetrap (1) (The)
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MOUSETRAP , THE. AKA – "Mouse Trap (The)." AKA and see "Old Hob." English, Air (6/8 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The air appears in the third and fouth editions of The Second Volume of the Dancing Master (London, 1718), published by John Young, heir to the Playford publishing concerns. It is the alternate title for "Old Hob." The same tune and titles were also published by Walsh and Hare in The Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (1719) and in later editions of that volume in 1735, and by son John Walsh in the 1749 edition.
The song "Mouse Trap" (to the same air as the country dance) can be found in the first volume of Tom D'Urfey's Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719, as "Marriage, or, The Mouse Trap"), Watts' Musical Miscellany (1731), and on numerous song sheets. It also provided the vehicle for songs in ballad operas such as John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728 as "Maid is like the golden ore (A)"), The Generous Freemason, Fielding's The Patron; or, An Old Man Taught Wisdom (1734) and other staged works.
William Chappell (1855) records that the words are by Thomas D'Urfey set to a tune that appeared first in a 1696 play written by Doggett called The Country Wake.
Of all the simple things we do,
To rub over a whimsical life;
There's no one folly is so true,
As that very bad bargain, a wife.
We're just like a mouse in a trap,
Or rat that is caught in a gin;
We start and fret, and try to escape,
And rue the sad hour we came in.
The song was also included in Allan Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany (1725) and other anthologies.
Source for notated version:
Chappell (A Collection of National English Airs), 1840; no. 119, p. 58.
Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1855; pp. 602–603.
Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 51 (a facsimile copy of Gay's 1729 "Beggar' Opera").
Wooldridge (Old English Popular Music, vol. 2), 1893; p. 111.