Peacock Follows the Hen (The)

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PEACOCK FOLLOWED/FOLLOWS THE HEN, THE. AKA - "Peacock (The)." AKA and see “Brose and Butter,” "Cuddle Me Cuddy," "Here We Go Up," "Mad Moll (1),” “Up and Down Again,” "Virgin Queen," "Yellow Stockings." English; Jig (9/8 time), Old Hornpipe, and Air. England, Northumberland. A Dorian (most versions): A Major (Cocks). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Bruce & Stokoe, Cocks): AABBCCDDEEFFGG (Peacock). "This tune has been claimed as Scottish, and has appeared in the collections of that country under the title of 'Brose and Butter', but in reality it is one of the old English bagpipe hornpipes of the kind so plentiful in the 17th century and in the former part of the 18th. The earliest copy of the tune we have been able to discover is in Playford's Dancing Master, part II, of the edition of 1698, where it appears under the name of 'Mad Moll'; it is nearly identical with our pipe tune as above noted. A slightly different version of the tune was also known by the names of 'Yellow Stockings' and 'The Virgin Queen'--the latter title seeming to identify it with Queen Elizabeth, as the name of Mad Moll does with her sister Queen Mary, who was said to be subject to fits of mental aberration. The words of 'The Virgin Queen' or of 'Mad Moll' are not known to exist, but they probably consisted of some fulsome panegyric on Queen Elizabeth at the expense of her (un)fortunate sister. Allen Ramsey, in his Tea Table Miscellany, published in 1740, printed Dean Swift's song of 'Oh! My Kitten, My Kitten!' to the second version of this tune, and called it 'Yellow Stockings.' This, so far as we have been able to trace, is the first appearance of the air in a Scottish publication. Upwards of half a century later it attained great popularity in that country under the name of 'Brose and Butter', as before mentioned" (Stokoe). The tune appears in Northumberland musician William Vickers’ 1770-72 music manuscript under the title “Cuddle Me Cuddy.” The following lyrics, fairly suggestive, appear in Joseph Cawhall’s A Beuk o’ Newcassel Sangs (1888):

A’ the neet ower an’ ower, ...... 'neet' = night
An’ a’ the neet ower agyen—
A’ the neet ower an’ ower,
The peacock followed the hen.
A Hen’s a hungerie dish,
A geusse is hollow within; ...... 'geusse' = goose
There’s nee deceit iv a puddin’; ...... ‘no deceit in a pudding’
A pye’s a dainty thing.

The tune appears in a few surviving musicians' manuscript collections from the north of England, including those of multi-instrumentalist John Rook (1840, Waverton, Cumbria), John Bell (Northumberland, c. 1812) and James Winder (Lancashire, c. 1789).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Bruce & Stokoe (Northumbrian Minstrelsy), 1882; pp. 152-153. Cocks (Tutor for the Northumbrian Half-Long Bagpipes), 1925; No. 8, p. 9 (appears as "The Peacock"). Peacock (Peacock’s Tunes), 1805; No. 46, p. 21.

Recorded sources: Front Hall FHR-08, Alistair Anderson - "Traditional Tunes" (1976). Topic Records TSCD529, Cut and Dry Band - "Wind in the Reeds: The Northumbrian Smallpipes" (2001. Originally issued 1976).

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