Tuesday, March 06, 2018


A Catch by Henry Purcell

The Second Book of the Catch Club, or, Merry Companions, being a Choice Collection of the Most Diverting Catches for Three and Four Voices. Compos'd by the late Mr. Henry Purcell, Dr. Blow, &c. (London: I. Walsh, 1690), p. 20 (number 34, for 3 voices):

The lyrics transcribed, with capitalization and punctuation preserved:
Pox on you,
Pox on you,
Pox on you for a Fop,
your Stomach too queazy,
cannot I Belch,
cannot I Belch and Fart, you Coxcomb, to ease me:
what if I let fly in your Face and shall please ye?

Fogh, fogh,
Fogh, fogh,
how sow'r he smells;
now he's at it, now he's at it again;
out ye Beast, out ye Beast,
I never met so nasty a Man,
I'm not able to bear it,
what the Devil d'ye mean?

no less than a Caesar, no less than a Caesar,
no, no, no, less than a Caesar,
decree'd with great reason;
no restraint, no restraint
shou'd be laid on the Bum or the Weason,
for Belching and Farting were always in season.
The direction "Belch" appears above measures 1, 3, and 5. A couple of notes:

1) Caesar is the Roman emperor Claudius. See Suetonius, Life of Claudius 32 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
He is even said to have thought of an edict allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table, having learned of a man who ran some risk by restraining himself through modesty.

dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi, cum periclitatum quendam prae pudore ex continentia repperisset.
2) Weason = weasand, i.e. throat, windpipe.

Later versions tone down the language, e.g. "plague" for "pox," "gape and yawn" for "belch and fart," "yawn full" for "let fly," "drowsy" for "nasty," "mouth" for "bum," "yawning and gaping" for "belching and farting" — see Henry Purcell, Catches, Rounds, Two-Part and Three-Part Songs = Works, Vol. XXII (London: Novello and Company, Limited, 1922), pp. xii-xiii (number XXIX).

I don't have access to the updated edition of Purcell's Catches by Ian Spink (London: Novello, 2000) or to Paul Hillier, ed., The Catch Book: 153 Catches Including the Complete Catches of Henry Purcell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).

There are recordings of the catch on YouTube.


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