Words: William Coeur du Boeuf
Source: Coeur d'Ennui Letchers Guild Songbook Edited by William Coeur du Boeuf

Four Able Physicians
Who better to dispense a pill to purge melancholy? This appeared in the New Academy of Complements (1671) and D'Urfey liked it. The music it is set to was old at the time this was written: Packingtons Pound.

Three Travellers
This has to be the ultimate letcher's dream. In the PTPM penny is "stiver;" there are verses I have left out as they seem to slow down the main action of the song.

My Longing Desire
D'Urfrey to the text from Alexander Brome's Songs and Other Poems(1661)

The Squire of Great Reknown
In the earliest known version it is a "friar" that is the "hero." This song goes back to the days when there was great disrespect for clerics who were not living up to their vows of chastitiy and poverty. A more modern verion has it: "His brother monks to stop his frolics/Put a nail through his cock/ ans cut off his bollocks./ (chorus) The old son, the sod,/The bugger deserved to die!" Incidentally, this is not in PTPM.

The Baffled Knight
There are two versions of this story in PTPM, and I've seen a fair number of others. This version is sad and is suitable for men to sing; i.e., a sadder but wiser knight. I've heard one variation sung by a young woman that is very cheerful and gay--it, of course, ridicules the knight even more than this version.

Oh No, John!
Not from PTPM, but similar in theme to many of it's songs. Unlike the over courteous knight, the hero of this song learned that you can take no for an answer (if you ask the right question).

The Lusty Young Smith
One of the best examples of the extended double entendre using a particular profession. Would this be a suitable song for the Armorers Guild?

The Riddle
If there is an "innocent" answer to this riddle I'd love to hear it.

Blow the Candles Out
Versions of this song continue to be popular. Many of the folk singers of the hootenany period of the 1960's had a version in their repertoire.

The Trooper
A good example of the double entendre. This song is probably from the era of Cromwell and his Now Model Army.

The Suprised Nymph
Also collected in A Collection of Old Ballads (1723); that book claims the song is based on an actual incident.

Put in All! Put in All!
I have a feeling that this is a song written for the playhouses of the last half of the 1600's. It seems to be just cruel enough to have been written for the stage.

Two Maidens Went A-Milking
Not from PTPM, but from the 1600's. This song is still very popular today and there are a lot of minor variations current.

The Comely Dame of Islington
A Tinker song! There are almost enough bawdy songs about tinkers to fill a song book with them alone. Another fine example of the double entendre and a profession

Old Fumbler
This song can be sung to several different tunes, including Packingtons Pound.

A Wanton Trick
A musical metaphor. PTPM has several more verses that I left out.

The Codfish
This is a variation of "The Sea Crab," the oldest known bawdy song that is still sung. "The Sea Crab" is included in the Percy Folio MS, 1620-1650, and an English version of something lurking in the chamber pot is recorded in story form in 1610. The earliest mention of the story is an account fo a traveller in Russia circa 1280. In the earlier version the sea crab doesn't merely jump, it jumps and uses its pinchers on the most easily accessible spot of the poor squatting woman. And when the man comes to rescue her it grabes him by the nose with the other pincer! (What a lovely image!) I used this more modern version because the versions of "The Sea Crab" I've collected are full of Anglo Saxon words, and as such, not suited for the novice letcher. This song is not in PTPM, by the way.

The Character of a Mistress
The singer realizes that he doesn't have to use poetic language to describe his mistress--he can do it in two words. Many of the songs in PTPM are full of the "my mistress is..." similes, but their comparisons are very sedate and modest; this song has to have been written as a "topper." The tune is still in use today as "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey."


The rest of the songs in this book are not truly medieval at all, although "Maids, When You're Young," "The Chandler's Shop," and "My First Love in Life" (also known as "The Limerick Rake"), are each at least one hundred years old, and possibly several hundred.

Internal evidence suggests that "Alexandria" and "The Chastity Belt" are of modern origin. They are certainly authentic enough for the Current Middle Ages.

I have not been able to date "The Lady and the Lecher." The first time I heard it the hero was a student; I've heard it several times since with different heroes substituted. It is perhaps significant that one of the verses mentions "Gaudeamus Egitur," a drinking song of medieval students.

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