Annotation:Relishing Bit (The)

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RELISHING BIT, THE. English, Reel or hornpipe (cut time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "The Relishing Bit" (or, as Vickers gave it, "The Ralishing Bitt") was a rather vague euphemism for sexual intercourse, or more commonly of eating, and then meaning both woman and copulation. A late 17th century ballad called "Westminster Frolick" deals with "A wanton Wife that loved a relishing Bit," while a 'Bit of muslin' in the early 19th century meant a woman usually of ill repute. The second verse of "A Song" in Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy vol. 4 (2nd ed., 1709, p. 84) with "words by a person of quality, set to musick by Mr. Robert Cary," goes:

I cannot describe you her beauty and wit,
Like manna to each she's a relishing bit:
She alone by enjoyment, the more does prevail,
And still with fresh pleasures, does hoist up your sail:
Nay had you a surfeit but took of all others,
One look from my Dolly your stomach recovers.

A 'relishing bit' was also the name of a tool, traditionally useful for drilling window sashing.

The tune was first published in London by John Walsh in his Caledonian Country Dances, vol. 4(c. 1744, No. 22) and, by the same publisher, Compleat Country Dancing Master, Fourth Book (c. 1747, No. 86).

Source for notated version: William Vickers' 1770 music manuscript collection [1] (Northumberland) [Seattle].

Printed sources: Seattle (Great Northern/William Vickers), 1987, Part 2; No. 349.

Recorded sources:

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