When Bucks a Hunting Go
DESCRIPTION: "Sweet is the horn that sounds in the morn When bucks a hunting go," but the singer thinks about Nancy. The hounds chase the fox but his mind is on Nancy, his wife [usually]. "How happy is my wife and I When that we homeward go" Let's drink to it
EARLIEST DATE: before 1830 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 25(2034))
KEYWORDS: wife drink hunting
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs, pp. 168-169, "The Cheerful Arn" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig/Duncan4 727, "Hame to My Nancy" (2 fragments, 2 tunes)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 48-49, "How Sweet is the Horn!" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 399)
Kidson-TraditionalTunes, pp. 143-145, "Young Bucks A-Hunting Go" (2 texts, 1 tune)
GirlScouts-SingTogether, p. 41, "The Cheshire Hunt" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: The Universal Songster or Museum of Mirth (London, 1834 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol III, pp. 281-282, "The Huntsman's Wife" or "The Sweets of Tally-Ho!"
Hedley Peek, editor, The Poetry of Sport (London, 1896 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 161, "When Bucks a Hunting Go"
Bodleian, Harding B 25(2034), "When Bucks a Hunting Go" ("How sweet is the horn that sounds in the morn"), T. Birt (London), 1828-1829; also Harding B 11(1824), Firth b.25(229), Johnson Ballads fol. 27, Harding B 11(4160), Firth c.19(111), "When Bucks a Hunting Go[!]"
My Fancy Dwells With Nancy Belle
NOTES [244 words]: There are literary references showing that the song was familiar, at least in England. Alfred Crowquill's story, "Forgiveness -- The Return," quotes the usual first verse, "'Tis sweet in the morn ..." sung by one character (Bentley's Miscellany (London, 1849 ("Digitized by Google)), Vol XXV, p. 384); George Du Maurier's Trilby has it that "Taffy, in a voice like a high wind (and with a very good imitation of the Yorkshire brogue), sang a Somersetshire hunting-ditty, ending: 'Of this 'ere song should I be axed the reason for to show, I don't exactly know, I don't exactly know! But all my fancy dwells upon Nancy, And I sing Tally-ho!'" [not a verse from the broadsides] (New York, 1899 ("Digitized by Google)), p. 172); Ben Brierley, in "Out of Work," has a conversation between two characters watching a girl: "Doesn't know where she is. Bonnie girl! What a bonnet! Bolted at last. 'Still my fancy dwells on Nancy - heigh my diddle dy oh!'" (Ben Brierley, Lancashire Life (Manchester, 1885 ("Digitized by Google)), p. 38)
Greig/Duncan4 quoting Duncan: "The song seems to contrast two lovers, of whom Nancy Belle is one." Duncan seems to have it wrong. Howeever, judging by the Brierly quote, the line "my fancy dwells with Nancy" seems to have had a life independent of the hunt.
Kidson has a version, "circa 1800," which replaces the "how happy is my wife" verse with "was she my wife, how sweet the life ...."
Roud has Greig/Duncan4 as Roud #6161. - BS
Last updated in version 6.3
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.