Would You have a Young Virgin

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X:1 T: Would You Have a Young Virgin T:Poor Robin's Maggot M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Country Dance B: Young – Second Volume of the Dancing Master, 1st edition (1710, p. 148) K:F A/B/|cdc cdc|f2c c2 A/B/|cdc cdc|g2c c2A/B/| cdc cdc|f2c g2c|agf cfe|f2F F2:| |:f/g/|agf agf|g2c c2f/g/|agf agf|b2g g2 f/g/| agf agf|agf bag|agf ede|f2F F2:|]



WOULD YOU HAVE A YOUNG VIRGIN (OF FIFTEEN YEARS). AKA and see “Native (La),” "Poor Robin's Maggot,” “Saw ye a lassie of fifteen years," "Set de Vaudreuil 2ème partie." English, Air (6/4 time), Country Dance and Quadrille part (6/8 time). D Major: D Mixolydian (Oswald). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (most versions): AABBCCDD (Oswald). “Would you have a young virgin of fifteen years” is the title Thomas D’Urfey (1653-1723) used for his song set to the melody in his comedy The Modern Prophets (1709), a blunt guide to seduction sung by Mr. Pack as Cub, although D'Urfey also published it in his Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, vol. 1 (issued in several editions from 1698; the music is printed in the edition of 1719, p. 132). The tune was said to have been an old one at the time, a jig from the time of the reign of Charles II (1660-1685), with an earlier name being “Poor Robin's Maggot.” D'Urfey knew the jig melody quite well, for earlier in his convivial career he had set his catch "Love and Honesty" (1783) to it [1].

Some thirty, or forty, or fifty, at least,
Or more I have loved in vain, in vain;
But if you'l vouchsafe to receive a poor guest,
For once I will venture again, again!
How long I shall be in this mind, this mind,
Is totally within your own power-your power;
All my days I can pass with the kind, the kind,
But I'll part with the Proud in an hour, an hour.
Then if you'll be good-natur'd and civil, and civil,
You'll find I can be so too, so too;
But if not, you may go, you may go to the Devil,
Or the Devil may come unto you, to you.

His Pills to Purge Melancholy song begins:

Would ye have a young virgin of fifteen years,
You must tickle her fancy with sweats and dears,
Ever toying, and playing, and sweetly, sweetly,
Sing her a love sonnet and charm her ears,
Wittily, prettily, talk her down,
Chase her, praise her, if fair or browns,
Sooth her and smooth her,
And tease her and please her,
And touch but her smicket, and all’s your own. ....(smicket=a woman’s undergarment)

Allan Ramsay also published D'Urfey's song in his Tea Table Miscellany.

The melody was published by John Gay in his Beggar's Opera (1729), where it appears as the vehicle for the character Macheath's song "If the heart of a man is deprest with cares" (the first line), and was also employed for songs in the ballad operas Livery Rake and Country Lass (London, 1733) and The Female Rake (London, 1736). In addition to the ballad operas, the tune was used for dancing and appears in John Young’s editions of Playford’s Second Volume of the Dancing Master (four editions, 1710-1728) as “Would You Court a Young Virgin: or, Poor Robin’s Maggot” (a maggot was a trifle, or plaything, whim, or fancy; from the Italian maggioletta). In 1719 it appeared in John Walsh’s Compleat Country Dancing Master, vol. 2 (London, p. 167), and John and William Neal printed it in Dublin c. 1726 in A Choice Collection of Country Dances, with their Proper Tunes (p. 14).

In the 19th century new life was breathed into the melody when it was incorporated into the stylish and popular “Lancer’s Quadrilles” as the third (jig) movement, entitled “La Native.” Subsequently, “Wou’d you have a young virgin” was entered into in several 19th century musicians’ manuscript collections as a quadrille figure, including the music manuscripts of the Thomas Hardy family (Dorset), the copybook of Thomas Hammersley (London, 1790), and two untitled manuscripts from the mid-19th century. See also the Irish dance derivative, in the form of a slide, under the title “I'd rather be married than left.” T. Westrop included it in his 120 Country Dances, Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, Spanish Waltz, etc. for the Pianoforte (London, No. 30), although under the title “If the Heart of a Man” (i.e. the Beggar's Opera song title). See also Montreal fiddler Joseph Allard's (1973-1947) "Set de Vaudreuil 2ème partie." See also the Aberdeenshire variant "Lassie an' Siller an' a's my ain."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 66. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; p. 118 (appears as “Saw Ye a Lassie of Fifteen”). Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 8), 1760; p. 17 (as "Saw ye a Lassie of Fifteen Years"). Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 56. Watson (A Rollick of Recorders and Other Instruments), 1975; No. 6, p. 7.

Recorded sources : - SaydiscCD-SDL 382, The City Waits - "Thomas D'Urfey's Pills To Purge Melancholy - Lewd Songs And Low Ballads From The 18th Century" (1990).




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  1. The Roxburghe Ballads, 1886, p. 55.