Mr. H.R. Duff's Favorite

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X:1 % T:Mr. H.R. Duff's Favorite M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance Tune C:”by a Gentleman.” B:William Morrison - Collection of Highland music, consisting of B:strathspeys, reels, marches, waltzes & slow airs (c. 1813, p. 33) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Eb (E/F/)|:O GEEG|FDDF|EC (c/B/)A/G/|(A/G/)F/E/ (D/c/)B/A/| GEEG|FDD E/D/|C(c/B/) B,(B/A/)|(G/A/)(F/A/) E:| |:G/A/|BGG e/c/|dBB c/d/|e/d/c/B/ e/g/ G/B/|A/G/F/E/ FG/A/| BGG e/c/|dBB c/d/|(e/d/)c/B/ (d/c/)B/=A/|B/e/d/c/ B/A/G/A/:||



MR. H.R. DUFF'S FAVORITE. Scottish, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is "by a Gentleman", printed in William Morrison's c. 1813 collection. Since Morrison signed his compositions, it was composed by another, perhaps Duff himself (lending support to this is that Duff declined to put his name to his published volume of old Scottish letters, The Culloden Papers). Major H.R. (Hugh Robert) Duff was born in 1771 and served in the 35th Dorsetshire Regiment and the 37th Hampshire Regiment in the wars with France in the 1790's. He was captured and interred in the basement of a church for a year before being paroled, and it was said after his release he never entered a church again. He was interested in literature and archeology and was the first man in Inverness to own a carriage. He was also the first to wear a top hat, and so proud was he of this that in 1807 he had a portrait painted, showing himself in this headgear.

In July 1798 Duff married Sarah Louisa Forbes, reputed to have been a great beauty, and the only daughter of Arthur Forbes of Culloden. The couple had eleven children, five sons and six daughters. H.R. Duff died at Muirtown in August, 1832, outliving his wife by three years, as well as many of his children.

The last duel in Scotland was fought over Sarah Lousia. According to The Book of the Duffs, vol. 2:

It was at a military ball at Inverness in 1798 that a popular Highland Chief, Colonel MacDonnell of Glengarry approached Miss Forbes and reminded her she had promised him the last country dance. She had no recollection of such a promise, and told him she was engaged for it to Ranald MacDonald. Glengarry took himself away, but, in a little returned and informed the lady the Ranald MacDonald, yielding to I know not what pressure or threats, had given up the dance to him. Miss Forbes naturally resented this discourteous treatment and replied that she would dance with neither of them. Glengarry refused to take her answer as final and tried to argue with her, whereupon a grandson of Flora MacDonald, a young man named MacLeod intervened on her behalf and suggested the lady could determine herself whom she would dance with. Later in the evening high words passed between Glengarry and MacLeod and the gallant Chief eventually struck the youth over the head with his cane. A duel ensued a day or two later, on the beach between Fort George and Ardersier, and MacLeod fell at the first fire. Glengarry had to stand his trial in Edinburgh for murder, and only the skill and eloquence of his counsel, Henry Erskine, saved him.

The Major seems a likely candidate for the "Composed by a Gentleman" attribution for a half-dozen tunes in Morrison's collection. The gushing note "Composed by a Gentleman, of whose numerous acts of experienced humanity, the Author of this Collection shall ever retain the most lively sensations of gratitude" would seem to indicate Duff was Morrison's patron. Duff had declined to put his name to a volume called The Culloden Papers, a collection of old letters that he edited and annotated, so there is precedent for his not wanting his name attached to his intellectual productions.

See also other tunes for the Duff family in Morrison's c. 1813 collection: "Miss Christian Duff's Favorite," "Miss Sarah Georgiana Duff of Muirtown's Strathspey," "Mrs. Duff of Muirtown's Waltz," "Alexander Arthur Duff Esq. Younger of Muirtown's Reel," "Mr. Duncan Forbes Duff of Muirtown's Reel," "Miss Amelia Mary Duff of Muirtown's Strathspey," "Mrs. Duff of Muirtown's Waltz."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - William Morrison (Collection of Highland music, consisting of strathspeys, reels, marches, waltzes & slow airs), c. 1813; p. 33.

Recorded sources: -



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