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Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife

Joe Offer 27 Sep 09 - 06:04 PM
Herga Kitty 27 Sep 09 - 06:21 PM
Bill D 27 Sep 09 - 06:40 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 27 Sep 09 - 06:48 PM
Fred McCormick 28 Sep 09 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,GUEST, Reinhard Zierke 28 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM
Joe Offer 28 Sep 09 - 11:31 PM
MGM·Lion 29 Sep 09 - 01:06 AM
Fred McCormick 29 Sep 09 - 04:16 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 05:56 AM
Jim Dixon 29 Sep 09 - 07:56 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 03:35 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 03:52 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 04:44 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 04:46 PM
Reinhard 29 Sep 09 - 05:20 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 05:49 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 29 Sep 09 - 06:04 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 06:06 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 09 - 06:18 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Sep 09 - 06:46 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Sep 09 - 08:01 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 30 Sep 09 - 11:58 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Sep 09 - 12:22 PM
Rumncoke 01 Oct 09 - 10:24 AM
GUEST 03 Oct 09 - 08:09 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Oct 09 - 11:32 PM
Reinhard 04 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Oct 09 - 02:33 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 04 Oct 09 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Murray on Saltspring 30 Apr 10 - 01:37 AM
GUEST,DMcF/HFA sans cookie 30 Apr 10 - 09:12 AM
Lighter 30 Apr 10 - 11:11 AM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Devil and the Ploughman
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 06:04 PM

Through the generosity of Bill Day, I was exposed to The Devil and the Feathery Wife (click), a delightful song. It has elements in common with The Devil and the Farmer's Wife (Child 278), but I don't know if it really fits in as a version of Child 278.

I've found recordings by Martin Carthy; by Cooper, Nelson, and Goelz; and by Nick Dow.

Then I found this page at Reinhard Zierke's Website, which links "Feathery Wife" to "The Devil and the Ploughman," which still doesn't seem like a suitable linkage. Here's an excerpt from the analysis on Zierke's Website:
    Martin Carthy commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

    Secret Songs of Silence is the title of an unpublished manuscript dated 1832 and deposited in the Harvard Library, containing songs of the North East of Scotland collected together by Peter Buchan, many of them from a blind itinerant fiddle player called Rankin.

    Incurable romantics among us whose imaginations work overtime on hearing such a title might be disappointed on discovering that the songs were considered unsuitable for publication - because many of them were too blunt and would not be cheered up by the thought that The Devil and the Feathery Wife is surely about the demonstration of true love. Indeed, if it is not, it might be hard to find a song that is. Learned from A. L. Lloyd, who brushed it up and fitted a tune.



So, what I'm wondering is, are there other early versions of this particular song, or is Secret Songs of Silence the only source we have? Could it be that "Feathery Wife" is mostly a Martin Carthy creation? Is there a Bert Lloyd recording? Yes, I know there are earlier versions of "Farmer's Curst Wife," but I'm wondering about this Feathery Wife song.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 06:21 PM

Eliza Carthy might be able to shed light on Martin's version, as she occasionally posts as a guest...

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 06:40 PM

Judy Cook sings it, I know. I've heard her do it a couple of times. Can't remember where she said she learned it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 06:48 PM

The Roud index lists the Buchan's Secret Songs of Silence pp97-100 as the only source with text, Roud number 12551. Under that number, there is also an entry under the title Politick Wife from Dicey & Marshall's Catalogue of Old Ballads, p.93, which is a reference only. In this post: Thread:Why is misogyny so prevalent in trad? Malcolm Douglas posted a link to the Bodleian with 2 copies of Politick Wife (he mentions 3 copies but this search seems to return only 2. I haven't looked for any more).

I'd assume from Martin's comment Learned from A. L. Lloyd, who brushed it up and fitted a tune, that Bert Lloyd found the source and adapted it for singing.

There is an article by Ian Spring in Folklore vol 99;ii 1988 on this - you can see the start via jstor: The Devil and The Feathery Wife, which looks as if it might be interesting, but I have no access to it (beyond the 1st page which you can see here).


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 06:08 AM

TDFW has no connection with Child 278. Although there are probably traditional antecedants, the song was first popularised by Bert Lloyd in the mid 1970s. I do know that a number of revival singers picked it up from him.

While it's a good song, and one I sing myself, I'm suspicious of its authenticity. That's partly because Bert is now known to have faked a number of the songs which he 'recirculated'. Eg., The Recruited Collier, Reynardine, Gathering Rushes. More particularly though, the story is well known in Continental Europe as a folktale, and I have seen one printed version (I think in the Routledege Folktales of the World series), and been struck by a strong similarity between that particular text and Bert's song.

If I can remember which volume it was in, I'll dig it out and re-read it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: GUEST,GUEST, Reinhard Zierke
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM

Ian Spring, in Folklore vol 99;ii 1988, wrote this about Martin Carthy's version:

“However, although this reading can be applied to the Feathery Wife, certain details, notably the emphasis on the 'plague of the scolding wife' in the Buchan version, may suggest an alternative reading. In order to emphasise this point I would like to draw attention to a version of this tale that is still performed in the oral tradition in this country. This is The Devil and the Feathery Wife as sung and recorded by the English folksinger Martin Carthy. This version is, in fact, simply a derivation of the Buchan version slightly altered, colloquialised, and set to tune by the great collector of English folksong, Bert Lloyd. Martin Carthy sings it, with concertina accompaniment on the record, in the highly stylised 'buttonholing' tradition of English comic songs.”


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 11:31 PM

But Fred, take a look at Politick Wife at Bodleian Library Ballads. It certainly looks like the same song as "Feathery Wife." I wish I know how to determine the publishing dates of broadsides at the Bodleian Library.
Is Buchan's Secret Songs of Silence available for public review?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 01:06 AM

Joe - My old Cambridge friend Bob Thomson, now [or when last heard of] at Univ of Florida, knows as much about broadsides as any man alive. You might try asking him.

Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 04:16 AM

Joe, I'm not saying there are no traditional antecedants. What I am saying is it's likely Bert got something like The Politick Wife, and rewrote it.

Does anybody know where he claimed to have got it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 05:56 AM

Joe - in the 2 copies of Politick Wife I linked at the Bodleian the 1st has no date, the 2nd is dated between 1736 and 1763. (Dates when available are on the search result, but generally aren't particularly exact - a range like this is typical, even quite narrow compared to some).

Reinhard - thanks for the quote for the Folklore article.

Fred - I think both Martin's sleeve notes and the Folklore article are telling us that Bert made a singable version of the song from Buchan's text. Looking at the Politick Wife, while clearly not the same as Martin's text, portions of them match closely enough for me to believe that Bert's version came from a song source rather than made directly from the folk tale versions. It would be nice to have the Buchan text to compare, then we'd know how much rewriting he did!

Mick


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE POLITICK WIFE, OR THE DEVIL OUTWITTED
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 07:56 AM

The text below is from the Bodleian ballads collection, Harding B 4(58).

The same text is in The Devil in Britain and America by John Ashton (London: Ward and Downey, Ltd., 1896), page 17; however, the editor delicately omits the lines that mention the beast's "eye" and "mouth."


THE POLITICK WIFE.
OR THE DEVIL OUTWITTED BY A WOMAN.

1. Of all the plagues upon the earth,
That e'er poor man befal,
It's hunger and a scolding wife,
These are the worst of all.
There was a poor man in our country,
Of a poor and low degree,
And with both these plagues he was troubled,
And the worst of luck had he.

2. He had seven children by one wife,
And the times were poor and hard,
And his poor toil was grown so bad,
He scarce could get him bread:
Being discontented in his mind,
One day his house he left,
And wandered down by a forest side,
Of his senses quite bereft.

3. As he was wandering up and down,
Betwixt hope and despair,
The Devil started out of a bush,
And appeared unto him there.
O what is the matter? the Devil he said,
You look so discontent:
Sure you want some money to buy some bread,
Or to pay your landlord's rent.

4. Indeed, kind sir, you read me right,
And the grounds of my disease.
Then what is your name, said the poor man,
Pray, tell me if you please.
My name is Dumkin the Devil, quoth he,
And the truth to you I do tell,
Altho' you see me wandering here,
Yet my dwelling it is in hell.

5. Then what will you give me, said the devil,
To ease you of your want,
And you shall have corn and cattle enough,
And never partake of scant?
I have nothing to give you, said the poor man,
Nor nothing here in hand:
But all the service that I can do,
Shall be at your command.

6. Then, upon the condition of seven long years,
A bargain with you I will frame,
You shall bring me a beast unto this place,
That I cannot tell his name:
But, if I tell its name full right,
Then mark what to you I tell,
Then you must go along with me
Directly unto Hell.

7. This poor man went joyfully home,
And thrifty he grew therefore;
For he had corn and cattle enough,
And every thing good store.
His neighbours who did live him round,
Did wonder at him much,
And thought he had robb'd or stole,
He was grown so wondrous rich.

8. Then for the space of seven long years
He lived in good cheer,
But the time of his indenture grow,
He began to fear.
O what is the matter? said his wife,
You look so discontent!
Sure you have got some maid with child,
And now you begin to repent.

9. Indeed, kind wife, you judge me wrong,
To censure so hard of me.
Was it for getting a maid with child,
That would be no felony,
But I have made a league with the Devil,
For seven long years no more,
That I should have corn and cattle enough,
And every thing good store.

10. Then for the space of seven long years,
A bargain I did frame,
I should bring him a beast unto that place,
He could not tell its name:
But if he tell his name full right,
Then mark what to you I tell;
Then I must go along with him,
Directly unto Hell.

11. Go get you gone, you silly old man,
Your cattle go tend and feed;
For a woman's wit is far better than man's,
If us'd in time of need;
Go fetch me down all the birdlime thou hast,
And set it down on the floor,
And when I have pulled my cloaths all off,
You shall anoint me all o'er.

12. Now when he had anointed her
From the head unto the heel,
Zound! said the poor man, methinks you look
Just like the very De'el;
Go, fetch me down all the feathers thou hast,
And lay them down by me,
And I will rowl myself therein,
'Till never a place go free.

13. Come tie a string about my neck,
And lead me to this place,
And I will save you from the Devil,
If I have but so much grace.
The Devil, he stood rouring out,
And look'd both fierce and bold:
Thou hast brought me a beast unto this place,
And the bargain thou dost hold.

14. Come shew me the face of this beast, said the devil,
Come, shew it me in a short space:
Then he shewed to him his wife's buttocks,
And swore it was her face.
She has monstrous cheeks, the Devil he said,
And her visage is wonderous grim,
She has but one eye in all her whole head,
And methinks it looks wonderous dim.

15. Come shew me the mouth of this beast, said the Devil,
Come shew it me speedily.
Zounds! Said the poor man, if you're not blind,
'Tis an inch just under her eye,
And if she stood upon all-fours,
As she now stands at length,
You'd take her to be some monstrous beast,
Taken by man's main strength.

16. How many more of these beasts, said the devil,
How many more of this kind?
I have seven more such, said the poor man,
But have left them all behind.
If you have seven more such, said the devil,
The truth unto you I tell,
You have beasts enough to cheat me,
And all the Devils in Hell.

17. Here take thy bond and indenture both,
I'll have nothing to do with thee;
So the man and his wife went joyfully home,
And lived full merrily.
O God send us good merry long lives,
Without any sorrow or woe,
Now here's a health to all such wives
Who can cheat the Devil so.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 02:16 PM

I note from Google books that there is an edition of the Secret Songs of Silence in prep (2010 from U.Press of Mississippi according to Google): The High-Kilted Muse: Peter Buchan and His Secret Songs of Silence by Murray Shoolbraid.

An old newsletter from U.Aberdeen Elphinstone Inst, Autumn 2005 had this to say about it:

The second critical edition of ballads and songs, The High-Kilted Muse: Peter Buchan and his 'Secret Songs of Silence', edited by Murray Shoolbraid, is also one that has never previously been published, although its whereabouts at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, has not been a secret. Peter Buchan of Peterhead (1790-1854), with the help of his collector, Jamie Rankin, assembled the collection of risqué songs to rival Burns's Merry Muses of Caledonia. It is a rich source of material, demonstrating how significant bawdy songs have been in shaping North-East tradition. Many scholars, including the late Hamish Henderson, have proclaimed the merits of the collection as a major source of oral tradition, worthy of scholarly attention.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM

I was present when Bert 'premiered' The Devil and The Feathery Wife' at the Singers Club. I would have to check the recording of the evening (Charlie) but I'm pretty sure he said he 'made' the song from a folk tale - though he did mention Buchan's 'Secret Songs' first time I'd ever heard of it.
A word on behalf of Bert. There is a tendency in some academic and pseudo-academic circles to treat Bert's re-makes as if he had farted in church.
The fact that he was both an entertainer and a researcher tends to be forgotten, and quite often those roles became mixed up. He was on occasion irritatingly vague about some of his songs; but that in no way (IMO) detracted from his importance in both fields.
I went to hear Bert sing as often as I was able, and I attended every talk he gave that I could - the same went for those magnificent radio programmes: Folk Music Virtuoso, Voice of the Gods, The Lament, Savage in the Concert Hall, Songs of the People.
I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that it was Bert Lloyd (or "A L Bert" - as he is sneeringly called by some lesser folkie wannabes) who inspired me to lift the corner of folksong and peep underneath.
I don't know enough to contradict many of his claims, but I do know that you never came away from one of his talks with a head spinning with 'Freemasonic' gobbldygook that has made folksong studies the secret society that it too often is.
Jim Carroll
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 03:35 PM

Jim - I have no problems at all with his remakes. I saw Bert sing on numerous occasions in London during the 70s and always found him entertaining (and though I've met many people who didn't like his voice, I actually did - and still do). I see nothing wrong at all in editing texts to make something you're happier singing (do it, not all the time but often enough, myself).

The reason I suggested he used the ballad text as source is that in looking at the text of Martin's recording and one of the broadside texts of Politick Wife at the Bodleian, there are a few verses where they agree very closely (only a few), which I'd assumed were parts of the original taken (virtually) whole. But if Bert said he made it from the folk-tale I wouldn't be one to disagree with him!

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 03:52 PM

If Bert's source was Buchan then it is just as likely Buchan was up to exactly what Bert was doing. Most of Buchan's ballads in Child for instance are under great suspicion. Child himself held Buchan's output in great contempt. It is widely known he added much material to his versions and even completely wrote some of them, claiming (like many of his predecessors and contemporaries) to have collected them from the mouths of ancient peasants.

I have a copy of the SSS mss from Harvard and will compare it with the above broadside when I have a little more time. Buchan got his 'inspiration' from many sources, one of which was English broadsides. He was for a time a broadside printer himself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM

The Politick Wife etc. Apart from the no imprint version in the Bodl it was printed in the mid 18thc at Bow Church Yard, London (Harvard Library)and Dicey and Marshall had it in their catalogue same period. Roxburghe Ballads Vol 8 p183 mentions a version printed by Evans, London c1780 and there are a couple of copies in the Douce Collection although I don't think these appear on the Bodl site.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 04:44 PM

The Devil and the Feathery Wife is a close rewrite of The Politick Wife. Buchan only has 12 verses. There is no v2. Verses 7&9 are substantially rewritten to become 2 new verses rejigging the lines and missing some out. Verse 12 is expanded into 2 verses. There is no verse 14 or 15 or 17. In my opinion this is Buchan's handywork.

If you check Bert's version and it has any of the elements of the verses missing from Buchan then the broadside was the more likely source. Simple!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 04:46 PM

Steve - The 2nd one in the Bodleian link above is Douce; that's the one with the dates.

It'll be nice to see the SSS version when you've time.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Reinhard
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 05:20 PM

Ian Spring quotes the SSS version in his article:

By a' the plagues that's on the earth,
And ever Man Befall,
Hunger and a scolding wife,
They are the worst of all.
In our town there lived
A man of mean degree,
And these two plagues him troubled much,
The worst of luck had he.

As he was in the forestonce,
Betwixt hope and despair
The devil he started from a bush,
And stood before him there.
O what's the matter, the diel he said,
Ye look sae discontent,
Sure ye want money to buy some bread,
Or pay some landlord's rent?

Deed, kind sir, ye read me right,
The Cause of my disease;
Tell me your name, kind sir, said he,
O tell me't if you please.
My name is Duncan, said the diel,
I unto thee do tell;
Although that I be wanderinghere,
My dwelling is in hell.

What will ye gie, the diel he said,
I'll end all you debate,
Ye shall hae meal an' cattle eneuch,
And never want of meat.
I've naething to gie, the poor man said,
Nae thing under my hand,
But any thing that I can do,
Shall be at your command.

I'll make a bargain with you then,
A bargain sure to stand,
Ye'll bring me a beast at seven year's end,
I cannot tell its name.
But if the beast I name aright,
(Mark well what I you tell)
Then ye must go with me, he said
Directly down to hell.

The poor man then went home again,
Turn'drich in each degree,
And all his neighbours wonder's much,
Sae poor's he used to be.
When seven years were come and gane,
And all full gone and spent,
The poor man full of sorrow grew,
And sorely did Lament.

0 what's the matter? his wife did say,
Ye look sae discontent,
Sure ye hae got some whore wi' bairn,
And seems for to repent.
Indeed, kind wife, ye wrong me much,
It's not so, I declare,
I've made a bargain wi' the diel,
I t puts me in despair.

I've made a bargain with him then,
A bargain sure to stand,
To bring him a beast at seven year's end,
He cannot tell its name.
And if he name the beast aright,
(Mark well what I do tell),
Then I must go with him, forthwith,
Directly down to hell.

Never mind it husband now, she says,
You cattle feed and keep,
For women's wit is very good,
Sometimes in present need.
Get me bird lime here, she says,
Lay it upon the floor,
Stark naked I will strip mysell,
Anoint my body o'er.

Then get to me a tub of feathers,
And set them me beside,
And I will tumble o'er in it,
Till not a spot be freed.
When she had tumbled o'er in it,
Frae her neck unto heel,
Then merry said he, ye're a strange beast,
You look just like the diel.

Then tie a string about me neck,
And lead me to that place,
And I will keep you frae the diel,
If I am granted grace.
When in the sight o' the diel he came,
He looked brazen bold,
Merry, quoth he, strange is your beast,
Your bargain seems to hold.

How many more hae ye o' them?
How many o' this kind?
I hae seven more o' these beasts,
That in this world do run.
If ye've seven more o' these beasts,
That in this world ye tell,
Ye fairly hae defeat me now,
And a' the diels in hell.

(I don't know if I am allowed to reproduce Ian Spring's full paper here but if you want to get the PDF document, drop me a note with your mail address.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM

Mick,
Seeing as I owe you.

The Di'el and the Feathery Wife
1
By a' the plagues that's on the earth,
And ever man befall,
Hunger and a scolding wife,
They are the worst of all.
In our town there lived
A man of mean degree,
And these two plagues him troubled much,
The worst of luck had he.
2
As he was in the forest once,
Betwixt hope and despair,
The devil started from a bush,
And stood before him there.
O what's the matter, the diel he said,
Ye look sae discontent,
Sure ye want money to buy some bread,
Or pay some landlord's rent?
3
Deed kind Sir, ye read me right,
The cause of my disease;
Tell me your name, kind sir, said he,
O tell me 't if you please.
My name is Duncan said the diel,
I unto thee do tell;
Although that I was wandering here,
My dwelling is in hell.
4
What will ye gie; the diel, he said,
I'll end all your debate,
Ye shall ha'e meat an' cattle eneuch,
And never want of meat.
I've naething to gie, the poor man said,
Nae thing under my hand,
But any thing that I can do,
Shall be at your command.
5
I'll make a bargain with you then,
A bargain sure to stand,
Ye'll bring me a beast at seven year's end,
I cannot tell it(')s name.
But if the beast I name aright,
(Mark well what I you tell)
Then ye must go with me, he said,
Directly down to hell.
6
The poor man then went home again,
Turn'd rich in each degree,
And all his neighbours wonder'd much,
Sae poor's he used to be.
When seven years were come and gane,
And all full gone and spent,
This poor man full of sorrow grew,
And sorely did lament.
7
O what's the matter? his wife did say,
Ye look sae discontent,
Sure ye hae got some whore wi' bairn,
And seems for to repent.
Indeed, kind wife, ye wrong me much,
It's not so, I declare,
I've made a bargain wi' the diel,
It puts me in despair.
8
I've made a bargain with him then,
A bargain sure to stand,
To bring him a beast at seven year's end,
He cannot tell its name.
And if the beast he name aright,
(Mark well what I do tell,)
Then I must go with him forthwith,
Directly down to hell.
9
Never mind it husband now, she says,
Your cattle feed and keep, (keep and feed obviously)
For women's wit is very good,
Sometimes in present need.
Get me bird lime here, she says,
Lay it upon the floor,
Stark naked I will strip myself,
Anoint my body o'er.
10
Then get to me a tub of feathers,
And set them me beside,
And I will tumble o'er in it,
Till not a spot be freed.
When she had tumbled o'er in it,
Frae her neck unto heel,
Then merry, said he, ye're a strange beast,
You look just like the diel.
11
Then tie a string about my neck,
And lead me to that place,
And I will keep you frae the diel,
If I am granted grace.
When in the sight o' the diel he came,
He looked brazen bold,
Merry quoth he, strange is your beast,
Your bargain seems to hold.
12
How many more hae ye o' them?
How many o' this kind?
I hae seven more o' these beasts,
That in this world do run.
If ye've seven more o' these beasts,
That in this world ye tell,
Ye the fairly hae defeat me now,
And a' the diels in hell.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 05:49 PM

Bugger..... Then two come along at once. Like buses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 06:04 PM

When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,
He'd 'eard men sing by land an' sea;
An' what he thought 'e might require,
'E went an' took - the same as me!

The market-girls an' fishermen,
The shepherds an' the sailors, too,
They 'eard old songs turn up again,
But kep' it quiet - same as you!

They knew 'e stole; 'e knew they knowed,
They didn't tell, nor make a fuss,
But winked at 'Omer down the road,
An' 'e winked back - the same as us!

It's a pity Kipling and Bert never met. The lesson could well be, don't labour the point - just wink in the general direction of Bert's memory.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 06:06 PM

Ah, you can't be slacking around here Steve; it's not like academic life!


Thanks to you and Reinhard for the SSS version. Joe should be very happy now - he has about as much information on the song as he could want (and maybe more!).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 06:18 PM

Further to what I said earlier, if Bert used the title mentioning 'Feathery Wife' then it's likely Buchan was his source. It is of course possible that PB issued it on a broadside or in a chapbook c1820 or fed it to one of his printer associates in Aberdeen or Edinburgh or even Stirling where he was apprenticed for a short while.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 06:46 PM

I've had a quick look over the texts above and compared them with the Carthy version in the DT and I'd say it's pretty clear that Bert's text was derived from Buchan's.

There are a few overlaps with the Politick Wife text (maybe 2 and half of the Carthy 4-line verses), but with the Buchan text some 14 (of 18) of the 4-line verses in the Carthy version correspond to 4-line half-verses from SSS, mostly in close agreement, though some only partially (I'll give a better figure on that tomorrow - it's getting late!).

I only looked at the single text of Politick Wife that Jim posted above, so it's possible one of the others has better agreement, but I suspect not. (I'll have a look at them later).

And as Steve says, the fact that Bert also used the Feathery Wife title seems to agree with Buchan as the source.

And so, at the end of a fruitful day, we (mostly) folks from the Old World can send Joe to a peaceful and fulfilled sleep!



Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 08:01 PM

"Jim - I have no problems at all with his remakes...."
Sorry Mick, I wasn't having a go at you - or anybody in particular. Nor was I trying to excuse Bert's occasionally cavalier attitude with his information. I just wanted to point out that it's very easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater - and folk academia seems to have its share of people who work on the old building trade principle that it's far easier to pull down something somebody else has built than construct something yourself!
Looking forward to Bert's long awaited biography - as I'm sure many others are.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 11:58 AM

That's OK Jim. I saw Bert most weeks during the 70s at the Cellar, Dingles and the other central/north London clubs, but didn't know him more than to say hello. At the time I was probably too much in awe of him - not that he was in any way stand-offish, far from it - to discuss songs with him; I think maybe once I asked him something about a song. (I don't think I could forget that he was the man who wrote FSE - the best introduction to the world of English song then and, IMHO, still).

Anyway, back to The Devil and The Feathery Wife. Here's a comparison of the verses from the Carthy/Lloyd version with the Buchan version, where the verses have a lot in common. I've numbered the Carthy version in 4-line verses as in the DT, the Buchan in a/b for 4-line half verses in the transcriptions above. The omitted verses usually have corresponding story-line, but dissimilar text. 12 (rather than 14 as I said yesterday) of the Lloyd/Carthy version seem to have a lot in common with Buchan.

Mick



The Devil And The Feathery Wife

          Carthy/Lloyd                                                Buchan

2.And as he cut wood in the forest one day                   2a.As he was in the forest once,
between dark mood and despair                                  Betwixt hope and despair,
The Devil himself, he jumped out of the bushes                  The devil started from a bush,
and stood before his mare                                       And stood before him there.

3. "What's the matter," the Devil, he cried,                2b.O what's the matter, the diel he said,
"You look so discontent                                        Ye look sae discontent,
Haven't you got any money to buy your food                      Sure ye want money to buy some bread,
Or to pay your landlord rent?                                  Or pay some landlord's rent?

4."What would you give me," the Devil, he cried,             4a.What will ye gie; the diel, he said,
If I were to end your debate                                    I'll end all your debate,
And I gave you money and gear enough                            Ye shall ha'e meat an' cattle eneuch,
So you'd never more want for meat"                              And never want of meat.

5."But I've nothing to give you," the old man cried,         4b.I've naething to gie, the poor man said,
"I've nothing right here to my hand                            Nae thing under my hand,
But if you would do what you say for me                         But any thing that I can do,
I'll be at your command"                                        Shall be at your command.

7."But if that beast I name aright                           5b.But if the beast I name aright,
You mark what I do tell                                        (Mark well what I you tell)
You've got to toddle along with me                              Then ye must go with me, he said,
To view the ovens of Hell"                                     Directly down to hell.

9."Oh, what is the matter?" his wife, she cried,             7a.O what's the matter? his wife did say,
"You look so discontent                                        Ye look sae discontent,
Sure you've gotten some silly young girl with child             Sure ye hae got some whore wi' bairn,
Making you sore lament"                                        And seems for to repent.

11."But if that beast he names aright                        8b.And if the beast he name aright,
You mark what I do tell                                        (Mark well what I do tell,)
I've got to toddle along with him                               Then I must go with him forthwith,
To view the ovens of Hell"                                     Directly down to hell.

12."Oh, never you worry," his wife, she cried,               9a.Never mind it husband now, she says,
"Be it happens, you'll pay for your deed                        Your cattle feed and keep, (keep and feed obviously)
For the wit of a woman, it comes in handy                      For women's wit is very good,
At times in an hour of need                                     Sometimes in present need.

13."Go and fetch me the droppings from all of our chickens   9b.Get me bird lime here
And spread them all over the floor                              Lay it upon the floor
Stark naked I will strip myself                                 Stark naked I will strip myself
And I'll roll all over the floor                               Anoint my body o'er.

14."And fetch me the barrel of feathers," she said          10a.Then get to me a tub of feathers,
Of the beasts we had for our tea                               And set them me beside,
And I'll roll and I'll roll all over in them                   And I will tumble o'er in it,
Till never an inch be free"                                     Till not a spot be freed.

17.He started to shake and he started to quail             12a.How many more hae ye o' them?
Saying, "Have you got any more of these at home?"               How many o' this kind?
"Oh yes," he said, "I've got seven more                         I hae seven more o' these beasts,
That in my forest do roam"                                     That in this world do run.

18."Well if you've got seven more of these beasts          12b.If ye've seven more o' these beasts,
That in your forest do dwell                                    That in this world ye tell,
I'll be as good as my bargain and I'll be gone                  Ye the fairly hae defeat me now,
She's worse than the demons in Hell"                            And a' the diels in hell.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 12:22 PM

It might be of interest that this song [in, obviously, the Carthy/Lloyd version] was very popular among students of English in China when I did a British Council tour on English Folksong of Chinese universities 20 years ago. The only one they seemed to like better was The Tailor In The Teachest, with all its refs to the 19C China-tea trade.

One very intelligent young Chinese student, in a seminar rather than a full-audience lecture, gave a very fine analysis of the song's marital relationship: the wife, he pointed out, was a scold because the husband was inept, which was why he was 'between dark noon and despair' with 'no money to buy his food or pay the landlord's rent'. But she was nevertheless a very loving woman, willing to undergo extreme discomfort and unpleasantness to save her husband from the consequences of his own ineffectuality.

I don't think this interpretation could be bettered.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Rumncoke
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 10:24 AM

It is part of the story of the 'May-all-good-be-gone'.

A man is walking home after serving in the army for many years, but on the way he is robbed of all his money except for one shilling. As he is wandering along he laments his fate and that of his wife and family who are waiting for him expecting his return to bring prosperity. Onto the path steps a handsome young man with dark curly hair and he is offered the tenancy of a good farm and is given a purse of money. The price of this will be made known to him in six years and eleven months, to be paid one month later.

When the price is revealed it is the souls of everyone living on the farm if the man can't name the beast the Devil will arrive on.

The man consults with his wife, and agrees the terms, if the Devil will agree to try to name the beast that he will drive to the meeting place. If he fails then the man will have the farm, and no interferrence from the Devil forever after.

On the day appointed the man is told to scatter thorn branches on the road and hide nearby. When the Devil comes riding up the beast treads on the thorns and rears up, throwing the Devil into a ditch from where he swears at it, and names it, calling it stupid.

The man then runs home and finds that his wife has cut up the skin of a ram, rubbed herself with honey and opened up a sack of feathers. He helps her to put on the skin, with the horns upon her head, and then cover everything not under the ram skin with feathers.

She then pulls him in her market trap to where he will be meeting the Devil, who stares at her in amazement.

The man jumps down and greets the Devil.

'Did you bring a beast for me to name?' he asks 'Is it over there with the May-all-good-be-gone?'

Realising he has lost the Devil leaps onto his steed and sets off back to Hell - quite forgetting that there is a place in the lane where his mount suddenly rears up and throws him into the ditch.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 08:09 PM

There seems to be a mis-hearing in Carthy's verse 2 above. Instead of "before his mare" it should end with "before him there" as in the Buchan text. And in the second line of that verse I hear him singing "dark doom and despair" instead of "dark mood and despair", although I might be wrong in this case.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Oct 09 - 11:32 PM

I hear it as 'dark noon and despair' [ie an overcast and sunless day] — see my post 3 above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Reinhard
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM

I overlooked that note in your previous post, sorry. But I don't hear 'noon' at all; to me it rather seems to be 'doom' (with a hard consonant at the beginning) as Ian Spring used in this paper, though I would like it to be 'mood' which would be more logical.

(And sorry for posting as guest last night; somehow I tossed my cookie without noticing)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 02:33 PM

I think he's singing Between dark gloom and despair.

The last line should be as Reinhard says ...before him there.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 04 Oct 09 - 04:08 PM

While I'm back it this thread, it might be as well to make clear, now that there are links at the top to several versions of The Devil And The Farmer's Wife = Child 278, The Farmer's Curst Wife, that this is not the same as The Devil And The Feathery Wife. Fred did point this out briefly above (28Sept09, 06:08) but now we have all the links it's worth reiterating. (And I've seen them related in other places).

While they do both have a farmer, his wife and the devil, there the similarity ends. In Child 278, the devil carries the farmer's wife off to hell, where she behaves so badly the devil is obliged to return her to the farmer. In DAFW the farmer makes a bargain with the devil and his wife devises a way to outwit the devil out of the bargain.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: GUEST,Murray on Saltspring
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:37 AM

To all interested in those Buchan ballads, my edition of "Secret Songs of Silence" is just out from U of Miss Press / Elphinstone Institute. Its title is "The High-Kilted Muse: Peter Buchan and his Secret Songs of Silence" The price as far as I can see is $50 US, which may be steep, but maybe folks might like to badger their library into buying it.

Murray Shoolbraid


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: GUEST,DMcF/HFA sans cookie
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:12 AM

'My name is Duncan, said the diel'

Hadn't been aware of that!
Next time I introduce TD&TFW I'll be quoting that.
Must be the de'il in me - cheers - Duncan McFarlane

PS My version (on my Bed of Straw album), learned from the guv'nor's version - heard (to these ears) from his efforts as 'dark doom and despair' and 'stood before him there'. So I'm with Reinhard on that front.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Devil and the Feathery Wife
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 11:11 AM

Great news, Murray. My photocopy of Buchan has been missing for years. Now I can quit searching through boxes for it, and I get your expert commentary too!

Am saving my pennies.


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