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Stories of Famous Songs 

Stories of 
Famous Songs 

By ""* ' 

S. J. Adair Fitz-Gerald 

In Two Volumes 
Vol. I 


'All great song has been sincere song" 


Philadelphia & London 

J. B. Lippincott Company 


Electrotyfitd and Printed bv 
J. S. Lippincotl Company, Philadelphia, [f.H. A 











GERMAN SONGS . . . 105 










" Blondel," " Annabel Lee," " My Pretty Jane," " The 
Lass of Richmond Hill," " Sally in our Alley," " The 
Roast Beef of Old England," " Hearts of Oak," and 
" Rule Britannia." 





"Woodman spare that Tree/' " Cheer, Boys, Cheer," 
" A Good Time Coming," " A Life on the Ocean Wave," 
"Come where my Love lies Dreaming-," " Rest, Trou 
bled Heart," "The Gypsy Countess," and "The Beat 
ing of my own Heart." 


"The Postman's Knock," "Rousseau's Dream," 
"The Old Hundredth," "The Savoy," "There is a 
Happy Land," "Little Drops of Water," "The Vicar 
of Bray," " Lilhburlero," " Ye Manners of England," 
"Ye Gentlemen of England," "Excelsior," "The Old 
Clock on the Stairs," and "The Village Blacksmith." 


VOL. I. 


REV. SAMUEL FRANCIS SMITH .... Frontispiece 

Author of "America" 



From the painting by George B Wood 



From the painting by G Guffens Property of 
the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 


From the painting by "W. Magrath 



THIS work is the practical proof of some fifteen 
years' agreeable labour in the fields of lyric 
literature and song lore. These histories, as far 
as possible accurate, of all the world's most 
famous and popular songs and ballads, have 
been gathered from all sorts of available sources, 
books, magazines, and newspapers, and living 
representatives and friends of deceased writers. 
Many of the particulars as to origin, authorship, 
and outcome of several of the ballads and 
pieces here appear in print for the first time; 
while nothing has been set down without due 
investigation and confirmation of the veracity of 
the various details and statements. Tracing 
the history of a favourite song, though interest 
ing and enchanting, is no easy task. You may 
have to turn over a score books without gain 
ing any reliable knowledge whatever. You 
cannot take a song and run it to earth, so to 
speak ; the truth must slowly accumulate and 
grow. In writing these Stories of Famous 
Songs I have consulted every possible authority, 
every likely work biographies, histories, re- 


miniscences, and collections of songs and have 
done my utmost to make the information 
absolutely authentic and trustworthy. I have, 
during the period I have had the work in hand, 
referred to many hundred sources, and have left 
no possible or probable clue untouched in order 
to make the history and origin of our best 
known and most beloved songs complete. To 
give a list of the writers and the works and the 
papers, manuscript and printed, that I have laid 
under contribution, would be to fill pages ; but 
throughout the different chapters I mention most 
of the authorities to whom I may have been 
mostly indebted, and to all I tender my thanks : 
to the writers known and unknown and to 
many friendly correspondents who have assisted 
me in my searches and in the compilation of my 

Of course there are dozens of songs- 
familiar friends to hundreds of people that will 
not be found in this volume. If there is no 
history of any moment connected with the com 
position of any particular song, it is impossible 
to tell one. Now and then I have made passing 
reference to some famous production whose 
origin lies buried in obscurity, but for the most 
part I have confined myself to the pleasure of 
relating the stories of such lays and lyrics as 



were written under some romantic, pathetic, or 
entertaining circumstances. Though many a 
favourite song may be missing from these pages, 
I do not think that one, with which there is 
any history associated as to its inception and 
birth, has been omitted that is, not any cele 
brated effusion. 

While aiming all the time at accuracy and 
truth as to the development of the world's 
famous musical ballads, my object has been to 
produce, not so much a pedantic reference guide 
or dictionary for the library, as an entertaining, 
amusing, and instructive work that shall appeal 
to the hearts and sympathies of all true lovers 
of songs with music. 

In dealing with the Irish and the Scottish 
sections I have striven to be just to each* 
When selected portions of the " Stories" were 
appearing in " Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper," I 
was assailed quite violently by certain Scottish 
gentlemen, who were highly indignant with me 
for various statements I made as to who wrote 
and who did not write particular songs that 
had generally been accepted as having been 
born in Scotland. But nobody has yet proved 
that abuse is either argument or logic, and as 
I have found no reason to alter the views I 
originally expressed, they remain exactly as I 


first wrote them down, except in one or two 
instances where I have been enabled to 
strengthen my convictions. 

With the sore point that has long vexed the 
patriotic pride of Hibernia and Caledonia as to 
the nationality of the music of many old ballads 
I have nothing to do; but as some modern 
Scottish writers are apt to claim most of the 
ancient airs as springing from their own country 
or countrymen, I venture to quote from a letter 
written by Robert Burns to his friend and 
publisher Thomson in 1793, when a National 
Collection of Scottish Songs was in progress. 

"Your Irish airs are pretty, but they are 
downright Irish. If they were like the ' Banks 
of Banna' for instance, though really Irish, yet 
in the Scottish taste, you might adopt them. 
Since you are so fond of Irish music, what say 
you to twenty-five of them in an additional 
number ? We could easily find this quantity of 
charming airs : I will take care that you shall 
not want songs ; and I assure you you would 
find it the most saleable of the whole." While 
Thomson admits in a letter to Burns, February 
5th, 1796, the high quality of Irish melodies, he 
annexes them, at the same time reconciling him 
self to the act of spoliation in this way : 

" We have several true-born Irishmen on the 



Scottish list, but they are now naturalized and 
reckoned our own good subjects. Indeed, ive have 
none better" 

For the rest, I have been impartial and given 
honour where I have honestly believed or dis 
covered it to be due. 

In treating of the history and origin of these 
Famous Songs, not only of our own country 
but of other lands, it has seemed inevitable that 
I should begin with " Home, Sweet Home," 
and end with the much-discussed " God Save 
the King." It also seems imperative that I 
should refer to that frequently quoted Fletcher 
of Saltoun. and his well-worn aphorism about 
making the ballads of a country. " Poets," as 
Emerson has finely said, " should be lawgivers ; 
that is, the boldest lyric inspiration should not 
chide or insult, but should commence and lead 
the civil code and the day's work." It was in 
reference to this class of song that Fletcher of 
Saltoun, in his "Account of a Conversation 
concerning the right Regulations of Govern 
ments for the common good of mankind," ut 
tered his famous dictum, or rather repeated it, 
to the Earl of Montrose, in 1703 : " The poorer 
sort of both sexes," he exclaimed, " are daily 
tempted to all manner of wickedness by infa 
mous ballads sung in eveiy corner of the streets. 


I know," he continues, " a very wise man that 
believed if a man were permitted to make all 
the ballads, we need not care who should make 
the laws of a nation. And we find that most 
of the ancient legislators thought they could 
not well reform the manners of any city with 
out the help of a lyric, and sometimes of a 
dramatic poet." It is certain that our songs 
have not only made history of themselves but 
for those who have sung and listened to them. 
Moreover, song and ballad making has ever 
been held in the highest repute by all classes, 
and still remains one of the best testimonials 
to man's sterling quality and literary capacity. 
Though, as the Russian proverb has it, " It is 
not every song that is sung to its last verse." 

In this volume I have given as many of the 
Welsh as I found tolerably general ; and though 
the information concerning American songs is 
surprisingly difficult to obtain this side of the 
Atlantic, and rather scant when secured, I think 
I have succeeded in saying something about 
most of the old favourites known in Great 
Britain. I have not included any songs from 
the Isle of Man, as they do not seem to me to 
be, except in a few instances, sufficiently dis 
tinctive. Besides, they are mostly unknown 
outside the Island, and do not possess any start- 


ling novelty in the way of origin. At the same 
time I would like to draw consideration to a 
useful collection of " Manx National Songs," 
edited by W. H. Gill, and published in 1896. 
I should also like to direct attention to that 
monumental work in eight volumes, " English 
Minstrelsie," edited by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, 
as being the most comprehensive collection of 
English songs ever published. 

That I could have extended this volume into 
many without going beyond my originally con 
ceived scheme, will be patent to all who know 
anything of the existence of the unexplored and 
half explored mines of literary and antiquarian 
wealth of this fascinating subject. I trust I have 
at least succeeded in drawing a larger attention 
to the principal gems than can possibly be 
secured by more learned and exclusive publica 
tions devoted to the entertaining themes of 
songs and music. " My true intent is all for 
your delight." 

Chaucer gives a character to the Knight in 
the " Canterbury Tales" by saying : " He could 
songes make, and wel indite ;" and that arch 
rascal, Falstaff, exclaims : " I had rather than 
forty shillings I had my Book of Songs and 
Sonnets here/' for the pleasures of a sweet song 
have no end. And though many poets " learn 


in sorrow what they teach in song," they at any 
rate teach what we are glad to know and appre 
ciate. Great Britain for many hundred years, 
has been singularly rich in songs, ballads, and 
madrigals of all kinds ; May Day songs, Christ 
mas carols, Easter and Whitsun madrigals, 
catches, canons, roundels and lyrics of high life 
and humble life; Shakespeare's and Ben Jonson's 
incomparable lyrics, to say nothing of the love- 
lyrics of other Elizabethan masters of verse and 
the Cavalier poets; and writers of all ages, 
English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh : no other 
nation can show such variety, such charm as 
we favoured Britons possess in our countless 

If words were given us to conceal our 
thoughs, music must have been given us to ex 
press them, to turn our tears to laughter and 
our laughter to tears ; to make our brief joys 
long and our worst sorrows brief. For what 
more thrilling voice is there than the voice of 
music the voice of all our passions blended 
into witching melody or soul-inspiring har 
mony ? 

The most popular and the most appreciated 

music with all classes is the music of Song. 

Tender words wedded to sympathetic music will 

do more to move the multitude than all the 



wealth promises of the Indies. And though few- 
seek to know the origin of the songs that please 
them, the telling of the tale always adds to 
their attraction. Of course there are many 
ballads that have lived through all the ages, 
many more that have yet to be handed to pos 
terity, that have no tangible history at all, that 
are simply the glorious outcome of the poet's 
fancy and the composer's art, but there are also 
many that were born of pain, perhaps misery, 
of patriotism, and of love, and of many of these 
I have endeavoured to tell. 



Augttst, 1897. 


Stories of Famous Songs 



"HOME, Sweet Home," which is so essentially 
an English song in sentiment and feeling, was, 
curiously enough, written by an American, John 
Howard Payne. Perhaps though, as he was a 
nomad the greater part of his feverish existence, 
it were fitter to describe him as a Cosmopolitan, 
for truly, in any case, Art is ever cosmopolitan. 
But the song was first sung in an English opera, 
or operatic melodrama, entitled " Clari, the 
Maid of Milan," the words being written by 
John Howard Payne, and the music composed 
and arranged by Sir Henry Bishop, who was 
decidedly English. Of this song it has been 
well asserted by Dr. Charles Mackay, that it is 
not too much to say that it " has done more 
than statesmanship or legislation to keep alive 
in the hearts of the people the virtues that 
flourish at the fireside, and to recall to its hal- 


lowed circle the wanderers who stray from 

Round both words and music of this ever 
green song, controversy has raged for years, 
but I think by what follows, which is all based 
on the most reliable information, I shall be 
able to set these differences at rest for ever. Of 
the words of the opera of " Clari " I think there 
can be no doubt whatever of their having 
emanated from Howard Payne, though the bio 
grapher of M. J. O'Sullivan, a dramatic author 
and contemporary of Payne's, asserts that he 
(O'Sullivan) had a hand in the composition. 
But I have been unable to trace any grounds 
for the claim. Payne undoubtedly wrote the 
lyric, though I have often wondered whether the 
unfortunate author of this very sweet song a 
song that will only cease to live when all Nature 
is dead and Time is no more ever read the 
old holiday and breaking-up song "Dulce 
Domum," so popular at Winchester School, for 
it certainly contains many of the elements of 
Payne's plaintive ballad. Here is the first verse 
with its chorus : 

' * Sing a sweet melodious measure, 
Waft enchanting rays around, 
Home 1 a theme replete with pleasure, 
Home ! a grateful theme resound. 


" Home, sweet home ! an ample treasure, 
Home ! with every blessing crown' d. 
Home 1 perpetual source of pleasure, 
Home I a noble strain resound." 

Brand says, in speaking of " Dulce Domum," 
which was originally written in Latin, and was 
translated into English by a writer in the 
" Gentleman's Magazine" for March 1796, that 
" it is doubtless of very remote antiquity," and 
that its origin must be traced "not to any 
ridiculous tradition, but to the tenderest feelings 
of human nature." The story runs as follows : 
Upwards of two hundred and fifty years ago, a 
scholar of St. Mary's College, Winchester, was 
confined for some misconduct by order of the 
master, just previous to the Whitsuntide vaca 
tion, and was not permitted to visit his friends. 
He was kept a prisoner in the college, tied to" a 
pillar. His reflections on the enjoyments of home 
inspired him to compose " Dulce Domum." The 
student must have been of a very sensitive na 
ture, for he died soon after, " worn down with 
grief at the disgraceful situation he was in," as 
well as disappointment. In commemoration of 
the event, on the evening preceding the Whitsun 
holidays, the masters, scholars, and choristers 
of St. Mary's College, attended by a band of 
music, walk in procession round the court and 



the pillar to which it is alleged the scholar was 
tied, and chant the verses which he composed 
in his affliction. 

Payne, as far as can be gathered, wrote the 
words of " Home, Sweet Home" one dreary day 
in October, 1822, while he was far from home 
in Paris. John Howard Payne was the son of 
William Payne, a schoolmaster who was favour 
ably known as an elocutionist in New York, 
where young Payne was born on April I, 1791. 
Much against the desire of his father, the future 
author abandoned commerce, for which he was 
intended, and took to the precarious profession 
of actor. He was not without ability, for he 
made a very successful first appearance at the 
Park Theatre, New York, in the character of 
Norval, in " Douglas," in February, 1807. For 
some years Payne continued to act in various 
parts of America, and occasionally contributed 
articles to New York papers and journals. 
Not satisfied with his success in America, he 
was anxious to learn the verdict of a British 
audience. He entered the English metropolis 
with excellent credentials, having letters of 
introduction to Lord Byron, John Kemble, 
Coleridge, and other celebrities of the day. In 
1813 he made his bow at Drury Lane Theatre, 
choosing for his debut his former role of Norval, 


and, according to all accounts, he greatly pleased 
the critics as well as the playgoers. But it 
was very difficult in those days to continue a 
favourite with the fickle public, nothing short 
of a genius which Payne was not being re 
quired to satisfy their desires. So after a while 
Payne exchanged acting for writing, and took 
to translating French melodramas and operettas. 
The " Maid and the Magpie " was his first offer 
ing, and it enjoyed a fair meed of favour at 
Covent Garden Theatre. Edmund Kean made 
"Brutus," a tragedy by Payne, a success by 
the force of his subtle and powerful acting. 
Charles Kemble also acted in Payne's " Charles 
II.," a whimsical comedy revived as a first piece 
some years ago at the Lyceum. "Love in 
Humble Life" from the French by Payne is 
occasionally played in the provinces, but veiy 
few of his pieces exhibited any great literary 
skill or power. 

As to " Home, Sweet Home," only two verses 
of the song were sung originally. These were 
slightly altered and sung by Miss Maria Tree 
in " Clari, the Maid of Milan," also an adapta 
tion, of the virtuous peasant and villainous lord 
order. For this, however, Payne received from 
Charles Kemble ^250, no mean sum in those 
days of short runs. The piece was produced at 


Covent Garden Theatre on May the 8th, 1823, 
and continued to hold the boards at intervals 
for some years. The music of this " musical 
drama" there were only six numbers was 
composed by Henry Bishop, and the melody of 
" Home, Sweet Home" was said to have been 
adapted from a Sicilian air, but this is erroneous. 
Miss Tree created quite a furore by her singing 
of the touching melody, and the words going 
straight to the hearts of the audience, it was not 
long before the song became marvellously popu 
lar all over the country, soon to penetrate to the 
farthermost parts of the world. It is stated that 
more than 300,000 copies of the song were sold 
the first year of publication. 

Now in regard to the words of " Home, Sweet 
Home," nearly twenty years after the author's 
death, when the subject of the music was being 
discussed, there appeared in the London " Daily 
Telegraph," a letter signed J. R. Planche, in 
which the writer asserted that with the full con 
sent of the author, " I undertook the revision 
of it (the play). I cut nearly a third of the 
dialogue, which was of terrific length. The 
ballad in question (' Home, Sweet Home/) con 
sisted originally of two verses of eight lines 
each. I reduced them to four : and at the sug-.' 
gestion of Mr. Bishop added the refrain of 


' home, sweet home.' " And yet, Mr. Planche 
allows Payne to have the full right and honour 
of the authorship of the words all his life, and 
not till twenty years after his death does he 
come forward with his claim. But long before 
this Michael John O'Sullivan, a journalist and 
writer of plays, gave it out that he not only 
wrote the song, but also the opera of " Clari " ! 
Of course it would be quite logical for a theat 
rical manager to pay an author two hundred 
and fifty pounds for a work he did not write ! 
the sum that Kemble paid Payne for a piece that 
was written, according to their version, by Mr. 
Planche and Mr. O'Sullivan not in collabora 
tion, but separately ! And not only that. They 
allowed Payne's name to appear nightly in 
the bills and to be advertised on the song, 
and advertised on the book of the words, as 
published by Lacy in the Strand. Here is the 
title-page. "Clari, the Maid of Milan! A 
musical drama, in two acts, by John Howard 
Payne, Author of Brutus,' ' The Lancers,' ' Love 
in Humble Life,' ' Charles the Second,' ' Ali 
Pacha/ etc., etc." I think that should settle the 
matter. O'Sullivan's claim may be dismissed 
forthwith. As for Mr. Planche, we fancy his 
memory was playing him a trick he was over 
eighty-two when he wrote the letter quoted, 


above, and after the lapse of sixty years an inci 
dent may get entangled with something else. 
Payne was a personal and intimate friend of 
Kemble's, and it does not seem at all probable 
that he would permit any one but the author to 
hack about the piece he was producing. 

Before continuing with Payne's life/ let me 
explain the origin of the melody, as related by 
the late Charles Mackay, who wrote to a Lon 
don paper a long letter on the subject, affirming 
distinctly that Sir Henry Bishop did compose 
the air. Said Dr. Mackay, " During the process 
of our (Sir Henry's and his own) work on the 
National Melodies of England, I was thrown 
into friendly and constant intercourse with that 
gentleman. During one of our many conversa 
tions on well-known English melodies, I took 
occasion to ask for information on the subject 
of 'Home, Sweet Home,' the authorship of which 
was often attributed to him and as often denied 
by many who claimed it as a national Sicilian 
air which Sir Henry had disinterred and re 
arranged. He thereupon favoured me with the 
whole history. He had been engaged in his 
early manhood by the once eminent firm of 
Gouldmg, D'Almaine and Co., musical pub 
lishers, of Soho Square, to edit a collection of 
National Melodies of all countries. In the 


course of his labours he discovered that he had 
no Sicilian air, and as a Sicilian melody had 
been announced Sir Henry thought he would 
invent^one. The result was the now well-known 
air of ' Home, Sweet Home/ which he arranged 
to the verses of Howard Payne. Pirates were 
in the field as now, and believing the air to be 
Sicilian and non-copyright, they commenced 
issuing the song in a cheaper form, but Messrs. 
Goulding, D'Almaine and Co., brought actions 
against the offenders and won the day on the 
sworn evidence of Sir Henry Bishop, who de 
clared himself to be the inventor of the same." 
This should decide the matter for all time. 

To return to Payne. After the success of 
" Clari" affairs seemed to have gone badly with 
him, for in the year 1832 we find him in New 
York having a " benefit" got up for him at the 
Park Theatre to start him afresh. He then 
subsisted on the income derived from journal 
istic work until he was appointed Consul at 
Tunis, but he soon lost this appointment owing 
to the change of government, and he once more 
contributed to the Press. However, some good 
friends used their influence and, in consideration 
of the fact that he was the first American 
dramatist who had made any name at all, Payne 
was eventually reinstated at Tunis, But he 


had barely undertaken the duties a twelvemonth 
when he died, on his sixty-first birthday, in 1852, 
and was buried at Tunis. His remains, after a 
lapse of more than thirty years, were removed to 
Oak Cemetery, Washington, where a monument, 
erected by public subscription, marks the spot 
where rest his ashes. In Tunis, by the way, 
there was still, some ten years back, a tomb in 
the Protestant burying ground with the follow 
ing inscription : " In memory of Colonel John 
Howard Payne, twice Consul of the United 
States of America for the city and kingdom of 
Tunis, this stone is here placed by a grateful 
Country. He died in the American Consulate 
in this City after a tedious illness April 1st, 
1852." And then particulars were given of his 
birth in the City of Massachusetts, and spoke 
of his merits as a poet and dramatist. Round 
the tombstone were engraved the following 
lines : 

' ' Sure, when thy gentle spirit fled 

To realms beyond the azure dome, 
With arms outstretched, God's angel said : 
Welcome to Heaven's Home, Sweet Home." 

And now I append " Home, Sweet Home," 
as it was first written : 



" 'Mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam, 
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home ; 
A charm from the sky seems to carry us there, 
Which, seek thiough the world, is not met with elsewhere. 

Home ! home ! sweet, sweet home I 
There' s no place like home, there' s no place like home. 

" An exile from home splendour dazzles in vain ; 
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again ; 
The birds sing gaily that came at my call 
Give me them with the peace of mind dearer than all, 

Home ! home ! sweet, sweet home 1 
There's no place like home, there's no place like home. 

" How sweet, too, to sit 'neath a fond father's smile, 
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile, 
Let others dehght 'mid new pleasuies to roam, 
But give me, oh, give me ! the pleasures of home ! 

Home ! home ! sweet, sweet home ! 
There's no place like home, there's no place like home. 

" To thee I'll return, overburdened with care ; 
The heart' s dearest face will smile on me there, 
No more from that cottage again will I roam, 
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home. 

Home 1 home ! sweet, sweet home ! 
There's no place like home, there's no place like home." 

The sweet sadness that pervades this simple 
little domestic poem is exquisitely expressive of 
the melancholy felt by poor Payne when he 
penned the lines, alone, in a foreign country (he 
was stranded in Paris at the time) away from all 
that he held dear. ' 



Payne, I may add, was an intimate friend of 
Charles Lamb, who conducted much of his 
play business in London for him, while he was 

A pleasing incident recorded by the " Phila 
delphia Record" may fittingly close this account. 
" No commoripoet ever received a more enviable 
compliment than one paid to John Howard 
Payne by Jenny Lind, on his last visit to his 
native land. It was in the great National Hall 
of the City of Washington where the most 
distinguished audience that had ever been seen 
in the capital of the Republic was assembled. 
The matchless singer entranced the vast throng 
with Her most exquisite melodies ' Casta Diva' 
the 'Flute Song/ the 'Bird Song/ and the 
' Greeting to America.' But the great feature 
of the occasion seemed to be an act of inspira 
tion. The singer suddenly turned her face to 
the part of the auditorium where Payne was 
sitting and sang 'Home, Sweet Home/ with 
such pathos and power that a whirlwind of 
excitement and enthusiasm swept through the 
vast audience. Webster himself almost lost his 
self-control, and one might readily imagine that 
Payne thrilled with rapture at this unexpected 
and magnificent rendition of his own immortal 





PERHAPS in the whole range of songs new and 
old, none is so popular as the plaintive " Robin 
Adair," the air of which is based upon the very 
ancient melody of " Eileen Aroon," a piece that 
dates back to very early times indeed. At a 
venture I would suggest about 1450, when livmg 
money was still in use, as in the first stanza the 
hero says he would spend a cow to entertain 
his lady love. It is only fair to add, however, 
that some authorities think it is no older than 
the sixteenth century. In any case it was a 
favourite with the majority of the Irish harpers 
and wandering minstrels, and most emphatically 
it is not of Scottish origin, as one or two writers 
have imagined. The curious thing about the 
song is that the words of both versions, " Eileen 
Aroon" (Ellen, the treasure of my heart), and 
" Robin Adair" were the outcome of very 
romantic circumstances. I shall deal with each, 
and I shall also give the history of the ancient 
and the modern song. Let me speak of the 


music first. The melody was taken down in 
1792 by Edward Bunting (though already a 
variation of the same had been secured by 
Lyons in 1702) who has done so much to 
preserve the music of Old Ireland, from the 
playing of a famous harper, Denis a Hampsy, 
or Hempson. Hempson was born in 1695, and 
lived to the great age of one hundred and twelve 
years, having died in 1807. He was a well- 
known character, sober and respectable (unlike 
some of the itinerant harpers) and was greatly 
respected. Lord Bristol, when "the minstrel 
was infirm and old," gave a ground rent free, 
and paid for a house to be erected for him ; and 
in his declining days Hempson was looked after 
and literally fed by the Rev. Sir H. Harvey 
Bruce, who was with him at his death. Hemp- 
son died with the harp in his hand after having 
struck a few notes on one of his best pieces 
in all probability the ravishing, soul-breathing 
"Eileen." From first to last this player's life 
was full of interest and is worth penning. The 
dates which I have given should be borne in 
mind, in order that the nationality of the air 
may be settled once for all. 

At the age of about eighteen, having been a 
harper from the age of twelve (he lost his sight 
at three through small-pox) Hempson com- 


menced a tour of Ireland and Scotland which, 
lasted until 1716. Now the Scotch claimed the 
melody, and published it to the British public 
under the name of " Robin Adair" about 1800. 
The grounds for this assumption, Hardiman 
informs us in his " Irish Minstrelsy," published 
in 1831, appear in the correspondence between 
Robert Burns and his publisher, Thomson, in 
1793. The latter, in a letter to the bard, wishes 
him to give " Robin Adair" (meaning of course 
"Eileen Aroon") a Scottish dress. "Peter 
(Pindar) is furnishing him with an English suit. 
Robin's air is excellent, though he certainly has 
an out-of-the-way manner as ever poor Parnas 
sian wight was plagued with." In reply Burns 
says that he believes the air to be Scotch, having 
heard it played by a man from Inverness, so 
that " it could not be Irish" (the question had 
arisen between them) though he admits that 
through the wandering habits of the minstrels, 
the air might be common to both. As a matter 
of fact, it was Hempson who carried the air to 
Scotland between 1710 and 1716, and the High 
land minstrels annexed it. During his second 
visit to Scotland, in 1745, Hempson was taken 
into the Young Pretender's presence by Colonel 
Kelly of Roscommon, and Sir Thomas Sheri 
dan, when he played and sang " When the King 
3 33 


shall enjoy his own again" as a compliment to 
Charles Edward. He also played " Cooling 
" The Dawning of the Day," " Eileen Aroon," 
" Cean dubh dilis," etc. ; so there is no doubt as 
to how so many of the Irish melodies, in 
cluding " Maggie Lauder," came to be num 
bered amongst the Scottish national airs. Thus 
it was only natural that when Burns was asked 
to dress " Robin Adair" in the kilt, he should 
have already heard the song. But, for some 
reason unknown, Burns did not write or re 
write the words, though the erudite Dr. Charles 
Mackay assumes that he did, as those interested 
will gather from the " Royal Edition of Songs 
of Scotland" still published. Again, Robin 
Adair was a real personage, an Irishman, but 
not the ancestor of Viscount Molesworth, as is 
generally believed, who lived at Holly Park, in 
the County of Wicklow. This was another 
Robin Adair, who had no connection with the 
song, though tradition has tried to fix it so. At 
Bray, in Wicklow, by the way, there is still a 
" Robin Adair's" well. This Robin's house 
stood at the foot of the great Sugar-loaf moun 
tain (properly Slieve Cullinn). The real Robin 
Adair was most likely a grandson of Patrick 
Adair of Bailymena, County Antrim, whose 
son, Sir Robert, married four times and had 


many children, and Robin might have been 
&ie of these. Adair, I may state, is most 
essentially Irish, and as " old as the hills," or 
perhaps I should say trees, as the name is de 
rived from Diarmaid and Diarmah the good 
Dair, the oak there are other variants, but the 
meaning and etymology are the same. Adair, 
therefore, means " of the oak." 

The true story of " Eileen Aroon" appears 
almost word for word in the " Gentleman's 
Magazine" for 1827, and in " Hardirnan's Min 
strelsy" of 1831. It is as follows: Carol 
O' Daly, commonly called " Mac Caomh Insi 
Cneamha," brother to Donogh More O'Daly, a 
man of much consequence in Connaught, was 
one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his 
time, and particularly excelled in poetry and 
music. He paid his addresses to Eileen, or 
Ellen as we should say now, the daughter of a 
Chieftain named Kavanagh ; she was a lovely 
and amiable young lady who returned his affec 
tion, but her friends disapproved of the connec 
tion, for, it is believed, political reasons. Carol 
O'Daly was obliged to leave the country for a 
time, aiid her family availed themselves of the 
opportunity, which his absence afforded, of im 
posing upon Eileen a belief in his (supposed) 
faithlessness, and of his having gone to be mar- 


ried to another ; and after some time they pre 
vailed upon her to consent to marry a rival of 
O'Daly's. The day was fixed for the nuptials, 
but O'Daly returned the evening before. Under 
the first influence of his disappointment, he 
sought a wild sequestered spot on the sea-shore, 
and inspired by love, composed the song of 
" Eileen Aroon." Disguised as a harper he 
gained access among the crowd that thronged 
to the wedding. It happened that he was called 
by Eileen herself to play and sing. It was then 
touching the harp with all the pathetic sensi 
bility which the interesting and dramatic occa 
sion incited, he infused his own feelings into 
the song he had composed, and breathed into 
his " softened strain" the very soul of plaintive 
melody. In the first stanza he intimates, ac 
cording to Irish idiom, that he would walk with 
her, that is, be her partner for life, or constant 
lover for life. In the second, that he would 
entertain, and afford her every delight; and 
then he continues : 

" Then wilt thou come away? 

Eileen a Roon ! 
O wilt thou come or stay ? 
Eileen a Roon." 

She soon felt the power of his eloquent plead- 

and answered, by signs, in the affirmative, 



having long recognized him. Then he bursts 
out rapturously ; 

< ' Cead mille failte ! 

Eileen a Roon ! 
Cead mille failte ! 

Eileen a Roon." 

And still with more welcomes and ecstasies he 
greets her, and to reward his fidelity, she con 
trives to elope with him that same night the 
night before the intended marriage with his 
rival, and of course they lived happily ever 
after. It may be noted that the well-known, 
motto of Irish hospitality, Cead mille failte a 
a hundred thousand welcomes was taken from 
this song. It is related that Handel extrava 
gantly declared that he would rather have been 
the composer of this exquisite air than of all 
the music he had written. And so enchanted 
with it was Signor Tenducci, a distinguished 
singer who sang in the Italian Operas in Lon 
don and Dublin, that he resolved upon studying 
the Irish language, and become master of it, 
which proves that the Signor heard the original 

Guisto Ferdinand Tenducci was born about 

1736, and first sang in London in 1758, when 

he at once became the idol of the fashionable 

world and was invited out everywhere to private 



parties and At-Homes. Doubtless he met Lady 
Caroline Keppel at one of the great houses, and 
we hear of him singing first " Eileen Aroon," 
and then " Robin Adair," at Ranelagh Gardens 
in 1762, presumably with Lady Catharine's 
words. Tenducci was quite a spoiled darling, 
and lived very wastefully. He ran through 
one fortune and nearly made another. He died 
early in the present centuiy, at his native place 
in Italy. It may be added that in the days of 
Elizabeth " Eileen Aroon" was sung by a large 
majority of the people in the streets. There 
is a curious similarity, by the way, between 
" Eileen Aroon" and the melody Scott's " Loch- 
nivar" used to be sung to. 

In the west and other parts of Ireland the 
peasantry still sing " Eileen" and will have 
nothing to do with the modern song. It may 
be mentioned that the tribe of O'Daly furnished 
several bards of celebrity. Donogh More 
O'Daly, Lord Abbot of Boyle in 1244, was a 
famous poet, emphatically styled the Ovid of 
Ireland, from, the sweetly flowing melody of 
his verse. 

Now we cometo Robin Adair. The real Robin 
was a native of Ballymena, County Antrim, 
and in all probability a descendant of the Des 
mond Fitz-Geralds, "the mighty Geraldines." 


His father was probably made a knight-baronet 
after the battle of the Boyne. The new version 
of the song was written about 1750 by Lady 
Caroline Keppel to Robert, or Robin Adair, 
with whom she was deeply in love. I will re 
peat the story as it is handed down. 

About a centuiy and a half ago, an impulsive 
young Irishman named Robert Adair, who was 
studying in Dublin for the medical profession, 
got into some scrape, and as he possessed little 
money and few friends, the only way he saw out 
of the difficulty was flight. So he speedily 
quitted Dublin and made his way to Holyhead, 
with the intention of going to that golden city 
of ambitious youth, London. Post travelling 
in those days was very expensive, and when 
Adair reached Holyhead, he discovered that his 
purse was as light as his heart ; consequently 
he had nothing to do but accept the inevitable, 
and so he manfully set out to walk to the me 
tropolis. He had not gone far when he came 
upon a carriage that had been overturned, for 
the roads at that time were in a horrible con 
dition. The owner and occupant of the vehicle 
a well-known leader of fashionable society, was 
greatly alarmed at the accident, and had be 
sides, received some slight personal injury. 
Adair, like a true Irishman, at once offered his 


services, and in a very short space of time had the 
carnage righted, and the lady, carefully attended 
to. Adair was a very handsome and aristocratic 
young fellow, and notwithstanding that his 
dress might have been of finer texture and in 
better condition, he had a striking appearance. 
With ready frankness he soon explained that he 
was a surgeon, and begged permission to ex 
amine into the extent of the lady's injuries. 
An examination soon showed that they were of 
merely a trifling nature that the nerves were 
more upset than the body hurt Adair then 
took the opportunity to explain that he was on 
his way to London to endeavour to make a 
name in the profession he had chosen, and as 
the fair lady was still apprehensive of unknown 
dangers, and still felt the effect of the shock, 
she offered the vjvacious young Irishman ** seat 
in her carriage as a protector, for she herself 
was travelling to the metropolis when the acci 
dent occurred. He was only too delighted to 
accept the proffered kindness, and very soon 
restored his travelling companion to health and 
good spirits. Arrived in London she presented 
Hm with a hundred guineas, and invited him, 
to come to her house as often as he pleased. 

Robin Adair was a wise and energetic young 
man, and took full advantage of the lucky turn 


in his fortunes to study assiduously, and soon, 
with the assistance of his patroness, acquired a 
good connection in the best end of the town. 
He was frequently at the dances given by this 
lady and others, he being a graceful dancer, a 
good conversationalist, and a man of consider 
able natural ability. One night, at a party, he 
found that his partner was Lady Caroline 
Keppel, the second daughter of the Earl of 
Albemarle. It was a case of love at first sight 
mutual love; and Lady Caroline's attach 
ment was as sincere as it was sudden; they 
were the observed of all the guests ; and after 
a few meetings the relations were in despair. 
The young couple, however, continued to meet 
again and again, and their affection ripened into 
an intense passion. Her kinsfolk were stupe 
fied with amazement. Were they to allow an 
unknown Irishman to carry off the flower of 
their flock, the beautiful Caroline ? They set 
their wits to work to try and persuade her to 
give him up. But all in vain. Handsome heirs 
of the oldest and stiffest families were prevailed 
upon to woo her, but she would not listen to 
them. She was sent abroad to see if travel 
would alter her determination ^and cure her 
" folly," but without avail, and gradually she 
fell ill. When she was at Bath for the benefit of 


her health, she wrote the verses now so popular, 
and adapted them to the melody of " Eileen 
Aroon," which Robin Adair had doubtless often 
sung to her. At last the separation from Adair 
and the importunities of her relatives caused 
her to become so dangerously ill, that, upon 
the doctors despairing of her life, and seeing 
the disease was more of the heart and mind 
than of the flesh, the union of the faithful pair 
was consented to. 

The event was duly notified in the " Grand 
Magazine of Universal Intelligence" thus : 
"February 22nd, 1758, Robert Adair, Esq., to 
the Right Honourable the Lady Caroline Kep- 
pel." This was the culminating point in the 
pretty love story. A short time after his mar 
riage Adair was appointed Inspector-General 
of Military Hospitals through the influence of 
his wife's relations ; nor did his good luck end 
here, for the King, being taken with Adair's 
agreeable manner and undoubted skill made 
him Surgeon-General, King's Sergeant-Surgeon, 
and Surgeon of Chelsea Hospital. Good for 
tune did not spoil him, and he continued to 
work hard at his profession, and the King was 
so greatly gratified at the successful way in 
which he treated the Duke of Gloucester, that 
he offered to make him a baronet ; Adair, how- 


ever, declined. Adored and admired by all who 
knew him, he lived to the ripe old age of eighty, 
and his death was deeply lamented. Lady 
Caroline, however, who did not enjoy good 
health, died after giving birth to their third 
child. Knowing how devotedly attached her 
husband was to her, she felt he would not 
marry again, and she was right. Except on 
State occasions, when he was obliged to don. 
Court costume, he wore mourning in remem 
brance of his love and his wife, until he died in 
1790, when he was buried with her in the family 
vault. Their only son, the Right Honourable 
Sir Robert Adair, died in 1855 at the advanced 
age of ninety-two, after a brilliant career, having 
proved himself a very capable diplomatist. The 
only part of this story which appears in any 
way doubtful, as far as reliable data go, con 
cerns the episode on the road to London. For 
the rest the writing of the song, and the mar 
riage with Lady Keppel are perfectly accurate, 
and Robin Adair was well known in London 
society as " the lucky Irishman" and was often 
so addressed by George III. 

This sketch would hardly be complete with 
out the words of the song, and I here append 
the lyric as originally written by Lady Caroline 
at Bath, and wrongfully attributed to Burns. 


" What's this dull town to me ? 

Robin's not near; 
He, whom I wish to see, 

Wish so to hear. 
Where's all the joy and miith, 
Made life a heaven on earth ? 
O ! they're all fled with thee, 

Robin Adair. 

"What made th' assembly shine? 

Robin Adair ! 
What made the ball so fine ? 

Robin was there ! 
What, when the play was o' er, 
What made my heart so sore ? 
O ! it was paiting with 

Robin Adair. 

" But now thou'rt far from me, 

Robin Adair ! 
And now I never see 

Robin Adair 1 
Yet he I love so well, 
Still in my heait shall dwell ; 
O ! I can ne'er foiget 

Robin Adair." 

There are other versions, notably one com 
mencing' " Welcome on Shore, again ;" and a 
ridiculous parody " Welcome to Punchestown, 
Johnny Adair," but the above is the true one. 
In the British Museum there are three copies 
of the music of "Eileen Aroon" (circa 1740). 


" Robin Adair" was published just about the 
time of Lady Caroline's marriage. In later 
years Braham adapted and sang it. The air of 
" Eileen Aroon" has been claimed by the Welsh 
as well as the Scottish, John Parry pretending 
that it dates from 1755 or 1760. In 1770 was 
issued a work called " A Collection of Favour 
ite Scots tunes, by the late Mr. Chas. McLean," 
in which "Eileen a Roon" appeared according to 
Mr. Alfred Moffat and in other collections of 
earlier date, but as already stated Hempson in 
troduced it into Scotland when a youth, about 
1710. It was popular with the people every 
where in England and Scotland, as well as in 
its native country Ireland, towards the close of 
the seventeenth century. Though Burns failed 
to fit words to the beautiful melody of " Robin 
Adair," others succeeded, notably Gerald Grif 
fin, who called his lines after the original Irish 
Ebhhn a Ruin. In Walker's "Irish Bards" 
(1786), the tune will be found in all its primi 
tive purity. As far as I have been able to dis 
cover, the incidents related have not been 
turned to account on the stage as a play, though 
" Eileen Aroon" has formed the basis of many 
a story. 





" AULD LANG SYNE," though it owes its birth 
to Scotchmen and to Scotland, has been so pop 
ular for quite a hundred years with English- 
speaking people all the world over, that it may 
fairly rank as a lyric of universal sentiment and 
universal nationality. But contrary to the 
general belief, which, it must be acknowledged, 
editors of Burns's works have done their best to 
foster, " Auld Lang Syne" was not written by 
the author of " Tarn O'Shanter." And, as a 
matter of history, Burns never once claimed 
the song as his, only his misguided and over 
anxious friends and worshippers have done this, 
and consequently much confusion has arisen 
over the subject. It so happens that, like many 
another ballad that lives in the hearts of the 
people, this essentially human song was written 
by a writer unknown, who may perhaps have 
never written anything else worth remembering. 
In Scotland, as in Ireland, and to a lesser extent 
in England and Wales, many of the humbler 


folk possess the gift of making homely verses, 
and many a piece has found its way into the 
world anonymously, to find a reciprocating wel 
come in many a heart and home. But, though 
Burns did not write this song, which is included 
in nearly every collection of his poems pub 
lished, he was the first to give it to the world in 
the form which we now know and sing it. In 
deed, many pieces have been attributed to Burns 
which he never wrote ; the text of Burns has 
been as much tampered with, perhaps, as that 
of any ancient or classic author, and requires to 
be as carefully revised. This, unfortunately, is 
true not only with respect to words and phrases, 
but with respect to whole stanzas and poems 
erroneously ascribed to him and regularly in 
cluded in the posthumous editions of his works. 
It would not be difficult to enumerate at least 
a dozen pieces in some of the best editions 
which are certainly not by him Many injudi 
cious Burnsites have been too anxious to over- 
exalt a reputation that already stood and stands 
as high almost as any poet could wish. It was 
Carlyle's fancy to represent Burns as an illiterate 
prodigy who, without models, or with models 
only of the meanest sort, attained by sheer force 
of native talent to a foremost place in contem 
porary literature ; but this is all wrong ; Burns 


studied the best models, and particularly did he 
follow in the footsteps of Goldsmith. Burns 
drew his inspiration from both English and 
Scottish literary sources, and he had a singular 
aptitude for seeing possibilities in bald and 
badly expressed conceptions. Burns was de 
cidedly inventive in a large degree, but his gift 
of expression was far greater than his power of 
original thought. However, it is not of Burns's 
genius that I wish to write that has long been 
acknowledged but of " Auld Lang Syne" and 
his connection therewith. Naturally the phrase 
is of the heather born, and even the quaint 
lexicographer, old Jamieson, could not help 
growing sentimental over the soothing words, 
in his " Scottish Dictionary" : " To a native of 
the country," he says, " it conveys a soothing 
idea to the mind, as recalling the memory of 
joys that are past." It " compresses into small 
and euphonious measure much of the tender 
recollection of one's youth which, even to mid 
dle-aged men, seems to be brought from a very 
distant but very dear past." " Auld Lang Syne," 
be it remembered, was a phrase in use in very 
early times, and it can be traced to the days of 
Elizabeth, in connection with the social feelings 
and the social gatherings of the Scot ; as a con 
vivial and friendly song it existed in broadsides 


prior to the close of the seventeenth centuiy. 
An early version of the song is to be found in 
James Watson's collection of Scottish Songs, 
published in 1711, and it will be seen from the 
verses quoted below, that Burns very spiritedly 
changed the weak periphrasis of the old poet 
into the tender and beautiful phrase so peculiarly 
pathetic and Scotch : 

" Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
And never thought upon, 
The flame of love extinguished 
And fairly past and gone ? 
Is thy land heart now grown so cold, 
In that loving breast of thine, 
That thou canst never once reflect 
On old long syne. ' ' 

Here we have a very fine idea badly expressed 
the touch of sincerity seems lacking, whilst 
the art is commonplace. This stanza is from a 
poem written by Sir Robert Ayton (1570-1638) 
of Kincaldie. He was the friend of Ben Jonson 
and other Elizabethan writers, very likely 
Shakespeare himself. Sir Robert undoubtedly 
obtained the phrase from current idiomatic ex 
pressions. He wrote several pieces of minor 
power. Allan Ramsay, who, before the advent 
of Burns, was making an encouraging reputation 
as a writer of verses and a compiler of old songs 

4 49 


and ballads, soon seized upon the rough lyric 
believed to have been " polished" by Francis 
Sempill, of Beltrees and destroyed the in 
tention of the original, as may be observed from 
this verse, in which Ramsay casts good-fellow 
ship overboard, and makes love the keynote : 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

Tho' they leturn with scars, 
These are the noble hero's lot, 

Obtained in glorious wars ; 
"Welcome my Vara, to my breast, 

Thy arms about me twine, 
And make me once again as blest 

As I was lang syne." 

This song of honest Allan's was first printed 
in his "Tea-Table Miscellany" in 1724, from 
which it was transferred to Johnson's " Musical 
Museum," published during Burns's sojourn in 
the Scottish capital. Allan Ramsay's lyric is 
not so bad as many have tried to make out, and 
as a love-song was very popular for a long time. 
Burns, who was partly responsible for the edit 
ing of the " Musical Museum" for Johnson, in 
which so many ancient pieces first saw the light 
as printed matter, made many annotations and 
alterations, and of "Auld Lang Syne" he 
wrote : " Ramsay here, as usual with him, has 
taken the idea of the song and the first line 


from the old fragment which will appear in the 
' Museum/ vol. v." Of this " old fragment" I 
shall have something to say later. But it may 
be as well to state that it is very evident that 
there were several verbal versions of this song 
long known to the peasantry and others of 
Caledonia stern and wild. It was decidedly a 
folk-song, and though it is not easy to conjec 
ture when, or how " Auld Lang Syne" arose as 
a form of speech or song, its introduction into 
literature is not so problematical. Somewhat 
more than a century ago on the i/th Decem 
ber, 1788 Mrs.DunlopjOf Dunlop,the daughter 
of Sir Thomas Wallace of Craigie, and a de 
scendant of the heroic race of Elderslie, received 
from Burns a letter, in which the following 
passages occurred : " Your meeting, which you 
so well describe, with your old schoolfellow and 
friend, was truly interesting. Out upon the 
ways of the world ! they spoil these social off 
springs of the heart. Two veterans of the 
world would have met with little more heart- 
workings than two old hacks worn out on the 
road. Apropos, is not the Scot's phrase, 
'Auld Lang Syne' exceedingly expressive? 
There is an old song and tune which has often 
thrilled through my soul. You know I am an 
enthusiast on old Scot songs. I shall give you 


the verses." And he enclosed the words of 
" Auld Lang Syne" as we know them, and un 
less Burns was wilfully concealing fact, he only 
trimmed the lines and did not originate or 
write the lyric. He continues somewhat ex 
travagantly : " Light lie the turf on the breast 
of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this 
glorious fragment ! There is more of the fire 
of native genius in it than half-a-dozen modern 
English bacchanalians." Burns would hardly 
write like this about himself and his work, so 
we may take it that he only preserved it from 

Three years afterwards, when sending the 
song to George Thomson, his publisher, and 
the editor of another collection of miscellaneous 
songs, he writes, " One song more, and I am 
done 'Auld Lang Syne.' The air is but 
mediocre, but the following song, the old song 
of the olden times, and which has never been 
in print, nor even in manuscript, until I took it 
down from an old man's singing, is enough to 
recommend any air." 

On the face of it, though many writers have 
denied that Burns was telling the truth in 
writing the above, the poet gives us the real 
origin and rescue of the song from oblivion. 
There is not the slightest doubt that Burns 
, 52 


polished and improved the words and made the 
song more singable and consistent, and there 
is not the slightest doubt that he did take it 
down, in a rough state, perhaps, from the lips 
of some old minstrel they were just dying out 
then or wandering bag piper, as he avowedly 
took down so many other songs. Now Burns 
has had many pieces credited to him which he 
never acknowledged himself, and Burns was 
not the writer to deny himself the least claim 
to fame or celebrity. The fact is that Burns 
communicated in words and music more than 
sixty songs, "begged, borrowed or stolen," as 
he jocularly declares, to make up the " Mu 
seum." Besides which, a great number of his 
own finest songs carried no signature, and it is 
therefore not wonderful that some confusion 
should have occasionally occurred in allocating 
a few of the borrowed ones. For instance, 
" Comin thro' the Rye" (" Gin a body meet a 
body") is attributed by Joseph Skipsey to the 
poet, while another editor says he wrote " Could 
aught of So'rig" pieces that were anonymous 
long before Burns's time ! It seems to me that 
we have no right whatever to assume that 
Burns was deliberately deceiving both Mrs. 
Dunlop and Mr. Thomson as to the authorship 
of the song. Anyhow, the words of the 


music I shall speak presently duly made their 
appearance in their final form in 1794, and are 
as follows : 

" Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

And never brought to mm' ? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And days o' lang syne ? 

" For auld lang syne, my dear, 

For auld lang syne ; 
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne* 

" We t-wa hae run about the braes, 

And pu'd the gowans fine ; 
But we've wander' d mony a weary foot 
Sin' auld lang syne. 

" We twa hae paidl't i' the burn 
Frae morning sun till dine ; 
But seas between us braid hae roar' d 
Sin' auld lang syne. 

" And here's a hand my trusty fere, 

And gie's a hand o' thine, 
And we' 11 tak' a right guid-willie waught, 
For auld lang syne. 

" And surely ye' 11 be your pint-stoup, 

And surely I'll be mine ; 
And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne." 


It may be noted that between the version 
given to Mrs. Dunlop and Johnson and that 
issued by Thomson there is one important dif 
ference in the sequence of the stanzas. In 
Johnson's publication the last verse is placed as 
the second, and this arrangement was used for 
some years, but the order of the stanzas, as 
given above, is obviously correct, though we 
fear that there are not many people who could 
repeat the song right off, much as they rave 
about it. Generally speaking, after the first and 
second verses, the singing of the song is aban 
doned, as so few know it. 

As to the meaning of " willie-waught," 
several opinions have been offered. However, 
in a collection of Scotch songs, published by 
Blackie and Son in 1843, the words " guid" or 
"gude" and "willie" are joined together by a 
hyphen, which means, will take a right good- will 
ing (God-be-with-you) draught the draught of 
good-will and friendship. The grasping of 
hands in the same verse seems pretty strong 
proof that that is its meaning. By the way, in 
the " Museum" the words are signed with a 
" Z" signifying that it is an old song with addi 
tions and alterations. The first, fourth and 
fifth verses are undeniably fragments of an old 
ditty ; the second and third verses betray the 


tenderness and sentiment of the poet himself, 
and these we are inclined to accept as being by 

And now as to the music of this fine old song. 
The original air, which Burns pronounced to be 
mediocre, was soon abandoned, and one said to 
be from " I fee'd a lad at Michaelmas," which, 
in its turn, was taken from a Strathspey dance 
tune called " The Miller's Wedding," was used 
in its stead, and is given in Bremner's " Collec 
tion of Scots Reels," 1759. The tune bears a 
strong resemblance to " Comin' thro' the Rye," 
" Oh hey, Johnnie lad," and " For the sake of 
Somebody." To come to the point at once, the 
melody to which the lyric is now sung was be 
yond dispute composed by William Shield, who 
was born at Durham, 1748, and buried in West 
minster Abbey in 1829. He wrote the music 
of thirty-five operas, operettas, dramas and pan 
tomimes, and to such favourite old songs as 
"Old Towler," "The Thorn," "The Wolf," 
" The Heaving of the Lead," " Arethusa," " The 
Post Captain" and "Auld Lang Syne." A 
writer in the "Newcastle Weekly Chronicle," 
early in December 1891, said: "I have been 
privileged to read the correspondence between 
Dr. Bruce and Mr. Chappell, the learned author 
of 'Popular Music in the Olden Times,' on 


this subject, and I am firmly convinced that the 
opinion of both Dr. Bruce and Mr. Chappell 
is fully borne out by historical facts, that the 
air of ' Auld Lang Syne' was first published 
in the opera composed by Shield. The opera 
(in question) of 'Rosina' was first brought 
out on December 3ist, 1782. It met with 
great success ; the overture in which occurs 
the melody of 'Auld Lang Syne' was pub 
lished separately in 1783, and the air became 
popular as a pianoforte piece, and, being thor 
oughly vocal, afforded others the opportunity 
of setting words to it, which Shield did not do 
himself." This is the first date of the air, and 
this, there is every reason to believe, was the 
air which Thomson used in his collection. No 
doubt other words, as indicated above, had 
already been adapted to the melody, but this 
would not deter Thomson the publisher from 
using it, for he was not above annexing any 
lyric or melody that suited his purpose. The 
" mediocre" air referred to by Burns would be 
the one the old man sang to Allan Ramsay. 
But Burns's version of " Auld Lang Syne" first 
appeared in 1793 ; it was set to a different air 
from the one we know it by, and different also 
from Allan Ramsay's song of 1740. The pre 
sent air and Burns's words first made their 


appearance wedded together twelve years after 
Shield's " Rosina" was given to the world. And 
then, as I have said, Thomson issued the song 
in his collection (1799). Apart from the fact 
that the dates are all in favour of Shield, there 
is another point. When Shield had occasion in 
his operas to introduce the melodies of other 
writers, he was careful in every case to studi 
ously acknowledge his obligations. The air 
known as "Auld Lang Syne" he distinctly 
claimed as his own composition ; therefore, as 
no one has ever been able to disprove Shield's 
claim, there is every evidence that his statement 
must be accepted and he is proclaimed com 
poser of this immortal song. In the " Popular 
Songs and Melodies of Scotland," however, 
there is a quotation note, without the authority 
being named, which runs : " Shield introduced 
it into his overture to the opera of ' Rosina' 
written by Mr. Brooks (query Miss Brooke?) 
and acted at Covent Garden in 1783. It is the 
last movement of that overture, and in imita 
tion of a Scottish bagpipe tune, in which the 
oboe is substituted for the channter and the bas 
soon for the drone" 

In the "Musical Times" for January 1896, 
Mr. W. H. Cummings gives the air from 
" Rosina," and says " My edition of Shield's 


'Rosina' is an oblong folio, published in 1783 ; 
the tune I take to be the original of ' Auld Lang 
Syne' is given to the oboe, the bassoons playing 
a pedal bass with the words, inserted by the 
composer to ' imitate the bag-pipes.' " " Auld 
Lang Syne," continues Mr. Cummings, " was 
published with two airs, one in 1740, the other 
in 1793, and it was not till twenty years after 
the production of ' Rosina' that it appeared with 
the tune now always associated with the words, 
the earlier tunes having been abandoned." I 
would like to point to a suspicious similarity 
between portions of the melody of " The Thorn" 
by Shield, and " Auld Lang Syne" which has 
not been referred to by any other writer as 
being strong proof of the two being composed 
by the same man. At the same time I think it 
only fair to say that Mr. Alfred Moffat (the 
editor of" The Minstrelsy of Scotland") disputes 
Shield's claims, and some of the above state 
ments, which, however, I see no sufficient rea 
son to abate or alter. George Thomson has a 
note to " Auld Lang Syne" in his " Collection 
of original Scottish Airs" (1799) to this effect: 
" From an old MS. in the Editor's possession" 
but Thomson was too many days after the 
fair. The melody was already a favourite 
owing to the circumstances of its birth in 1783, 


as already recorded. Thomson could easily 
have taken it from Johnson's " Scots Museum," 
wherein was published a version of the air in 

The libretto of W. M. Shield's two act comic 
opera " Rosina," by the way, was written by 
Mrs. Francis Brooke, the authoress of several 
plays and novels. It was first produced at 
Covent Garden Theatre, December 3ist, 1782. 

I may add that the song was introduced into 
an adaptation of Scott's " Rob Roy" and sung 
on the stage at Edinburgh in 1819, and also 
before George IV. in 1822, by the actor playing 
the part of Francis Osbaldistone. A drama 
called " Auld Lang Syne" in three acts, written 
by G. Lash Gordon, was produced at the Opera 
Comique Theatre, London, August 3rd, 1878. 




THE wild, pulse-stirring, revolutionary song 
" Le Chant des Marseillaise" it was called 
"patriotic" in the last decade of the last 
century which has had so much effect on 
political and social life in more countries than 
France, was originally written by Claude Joseph 
Rouget de Lisle in the winter of 1792. I say 
" originally," because many versions appeared 
almost immediately after its production, so popu 
lar did it become with the soldiers and peasants 
alike, when several hundred sturdy revolution 
ists from Marseilles marched into Paris to its 
strains. The Parisians took it up immediately, 
and the Austrian and Prussian regulars were 
beaten again and again by the ragged sans 
culottes to this tune, as every reader of Carlyle's 
"History of the French Revolution" knows. 
Curiously enough, the "Marseillaise" is still 
the official patriotic hymn in France under the 
present most Philistine of Republics ! And we, 
on this side of the Channel, duly recognized 


the fact of its being the National melody by 
playing it at the Mansion House during a ban 
quet to a French minister in the year of grace 
and loyalty, 1893 ! But what a wonderful his 
tory has this truly marvellous song ! And how 
often has it been erroneously related ! 

There are several variants as to the circum 
stances under which it was composed and 
written, for Rouget de Lisle wrote both words 
and music. Our author, says one version, was 
a young artillery officer at Strasburg, who was 
imbued with considerable poetic and musical 
talent, and under the combined influence of love 
and patriotism he wrote the hymn one night in 
the house of his sweetheart's father during the 
severe winter of 1792. The young maiden 
who had inspired him with the idea shed tears 
upon hearing the stirring strains. At once 
conveying the exact prevailing spirit of the 
whole of France, the song quickly spread from 
Strasburg to Alsace, where the melody was 
learnt by the Marseilles troops then on their 
way to Paris. The piece created a tremendous 
furore in the French capital, and soon the re 
frain was being sung and played all over the 
country. This is only partly true, because there 
is some doubt about the sweetheart incident. 
The real facts are as follows, though his claims 


to both words and music have often been dis 
puted. Of the many claimants to the honour I 
shall have a word to say later. Rouget de Lisle 
was greatly esteemed among his friends for his 
poetical and musical gifts, and was a particular 
friend of the family of the Baron de Dietrich, a 
noble Alsatian then Mayor of Strasburg. 
" One night during the winter of 1792 the young 
officer was seated at the table of this family. 
The hospitable fare of the baron had been so 
reduced by the calamities and necessities of war 
that nothing," says Mdme. Fanny Raymond 
Ritter, " could be provided for dinner that day 
except garrison bread and a few slices of ham. 
Dietrich smiled sadly at his friend, and lament 
ing the poverty of the fare he had to offer, de 
clared he would sacrifice the last remaining 
bottle of Rhine wine in his cellar, if he thought 
it would aid de Lisle's poetic invention, and in 
spire him to compose a patriotic song for the 
public ceremonies shortly to take place in 
Strasburg. The ladies approved, and sent for 
the last bottle of wine of which the house could 
boast." After dinner de Lisle sought his room, 
and though it was bitterly cold he at once sat 
down at the piano, and between reciting and 
playing and singing eventually composed " La 
Marseillaise," and, thoroughly exhausted, fell 


asleep with his head on his desk. In the morn 
ing he was able to recall every note of the 
song, immediately wrote it down and carried it to 
his friend Baron Dietrich. Everyone was en 
chanted with the song, which aroused the 
greatest enthusiasm. A few days later it was 
publicly given in Strasburg, and thence it 
was conveyed by the multitude to the insurg 
ents of Marseilles, and, of its after popularity we 
know. De Lisle's mother was a most devoted 
Royalist, and asked, " What do people mean by 
associating our name with the revolutionary 
hymn which those brigands sing?" De Lisle 
himself, proscribed as a Royalist, when flying 
for his life in the Jura mountains, heard it as a 
menace of death, and recognizing the well- 
known air, asked his guide what it was called. 
It had then been christened the " Marseillaise 
Hymn," and was so called until hymns went 
out of fashion, when it was known by the one 
word. In his late years de Lisle is said to have 
been twice in prison, and to have been reduced 
to the utmost poverty. A short time before his 
death, when all hopes and ambitions had been 
extinguished in him by age, he was decorated 
with the ribbon of the Legion of Honour. 
Soon after this tardy recognition several pen 
sions were conferred upon him which he did 


not live long to enjoy. He was the author of 
many essays, songs, dramas, and musical com 
positions, his sole means of support during a 
large part of his life being his literary labours. 
I believe that several of de Lisle's plays were 
translated and played in England. He died in 

Of the words only six stanzas were originally 
written, but at least a dozen more were added 
by other hands about the same time. I append 
the first verse of de Lisle's version. 

" Aliens, enfants de la Patrie ! 
Le jour de gloire est arrive ; 
Centre nous de la tyrannic, 
L' etendard sanglant est Iev6 
Entendez-vous, dans les campagnes, 
Mugir ces f6roces soldats ? 
Us viennent jusque dans nos bras, 
Egorger nos fils : nos compagnes 1 

"Aux armes, mes citoyens ! 
Formez vos battaillons : 
Marchons, maichons, Qu'tux sang impur : 
Abreuve nos sillons." 

The Republican version of the lyric differs 
somewhat from the original. 

One of the first and best English versions 
was published so soon as 1795, only three years 
5 65 


after it was written, and is as follows. Unfor 
tunately the translator's name is not given : 


' ( Ye sons of France, awake to glory, 
Hark, hark what myriads bid you rise, 
Your children, wives, and grandsires hoary, 
Behold their tears and hear their cries ! 
Shall hateful tyrants, mischief breeding, 
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band, 
Affright and desolate the land, 
While peace and liberty lie bleeding ? 


" To arms ! to arms, ye brave ' 
Th' avenging sword unsheath ! 
March on, march on, all hearts resolved 
To victory or death. 


"Now, now the dangerous storm is scowling 
Which treacherous Kings, confederate, raise ; 
The dogs of war, let loose, are howling, 
And lo ! our fields and cities blaze, 
And shall we basely view the ruin, 
While lawless force, with guilty stride, 
Spreads desolation far and wide, 
With crimes and blood his hands embruing ? 


" With luxury and pride surrounded, 
The vile, insatiate despots dare, 
Their thirst of power and gold unbounded, 
To mete and vend the light and air ; 


Like beasts of burden would they load us, 
Like gods would bid their slaves adore : 
But man is man, and who is more ? 
Then, shall they longer lash and goad us ? 


" O, Liberty ! can man resign thee 1 
Once having felt thy gen'rous flame? 
Can dungeon, bolts, and bars confine thee, 
Or whips thy noble spirit tame ? 
Too long the world has wept, bewailing 
That falsehood' s dagger tyrants wield : 
But fieedom is our sword and shield, 
And all theii arts are unavailing." 

No wonder such a lyric as this, with the oft- 
repeated chorus, should have stirred the people 
to action ! Lamartine exclaimed of " La Mar 
seillaise :" " It received, from the circumstances 
amid which it arose, an especial character, that 
renders it at once solemn and sinister; glory 
and crime, victory and death, are mingled in 
its strains." And Heine wrote of it in 1830: 
"A strong joy seizes me, as I sit writing! 
music resounds under my window, and in the 
elegiac rage of its large melody I recognize 
that hymn with which the handsome Barba- 
roux and his companions once greeted the city 
of Paris. What a song! It thrills me with 
fiery delight, it kindles within me the glowing 
star of enthusiasm and the swift rocket of 


desire. Swelling, burning torrents of song rush 
from the heights of freedom, in streams as bold 
as those with which the Ganges leaps from the 
heights of the Himalaya ! I can write no more, 
this song intoxicates my brain; louder and 
nearer advances the powerful chorus : 

" ' Aux Annes, citoyens !'" 

To hear a large concourse of enthusiastic 
Frenchmen sing this song is an experience of 
the most thrilling description. Rachel chanted 
the song with such fire and passion that the 
audience grew crazy with excitement, and, as it 
were, reached for their swords. The music of 
" La Marseillaise" is at once striking and en 
thralling; the theme forcible, and the refrain 
" Aux armes, citoyens !" so pathetic and ex 
pressive that few can hear it without being 
affected to tears. 

As I have already stated, there are several 
other translations; two in 1800, and one which 
was published about 1857 and sung by Mrs. 
Howard Paul in the " Mimic and Musical En 
tertainment Patchwork." John Oxenford wrote 
this version, and just listen to it, as a specimen 
of what the mild and genial dramatic critic 
of the " Times" could turn out : 


" Come children of your country, come, 
New glory dawns upon the world, 
Our tyrants, rushing to their doom, 
Their crimson standard have unfurled. 
Already on our plains we hear 
The murmurs of a savage horde, 
They threaten with the murd'rous sword 
Your comrades and your children dear 
Then up, and from your ranks the hireling foe withstand, 
March on, march on, his craven blood must fertilize the land." 

So popular had the song become that every 
body seemed imbued with the idea that they 
had had a hand in its composition. According 
to that curious work " An Englishman in Paris," 
not only did de Lisle not write the whole of his 
song the Abbe Pessoneaux during the Reign 
of Terror declared he wrote the last strophe of 
the lyric but, it is said, he had stolen the music, 
note for note, during the period he was writing 
the song when a prisoner in the fortress of St. 
Jean, at least three years after de Lisle really had 
been inspired with the whole composition ! It 
is Boucher Alexandre Boucher, a well-known 
eccentric violinist, who vowed, says the author 
of " An Englishman in Paris," that he, Boucher, 
had written it for the colonel of a regiment who 
was about to leave Marseilles the next day. 
I give it, says the writer of the work I have just 
referred to: "In the very words of Boucher 


himself as he told it to a Paris journalist whom 
I knew well : ' A good many years afterwards 
I (meaning Boucher) was seated next to Rouget 
de Lisle at a dinner-party in Paris. We had 
never met before, and, as you may easily 
imagine, I was rather interested in the gentle 
man, whom, with many others at the same 
board, I complimented on his production ; only 
I confined myself to complimenting him on his 
poem. " You don't say a word about the music," 
he replied; "and yet, being a celebrated musician, 
that ought to interest you. Do you not like 
it?" "Very much indeed," I said, in a some 
what significant tone. " Well, let me be frank 
with you. The music is not mine. It was that 
of a march which came, heaven knows whence, 
and which they kept on playing at Marseilles 
during the Terror, when I was a prisoner at the 
fortress of St. Jean. I made a few alterations 
necessitated by the words, and there it is." 
Thereupon, to his great surprise, I hummed the 
march as I had originally written it. " Wonder 
ful !" he exclaimed; "how did you come by 
it?" he asked. When I told him he threw 
himself round my neck. But the next moment 
he said: "I am very sorry, my dear Boucher, 
but I am afraid that you will be despoiled for 
ever, do what you will ; for your music and my 


words go so well together that they seem to 
have sprung simultaneously from the same 
brain, and the world, even if I proclaimed my 
indebtedness to you, would never believe it." 
" Keep the loan," I said, moved in spite of my 
self, by his candour. " Without your genius, 
my march would be forgotten by now. You 
have given it a patent of nobility. It is yours 
for ever." ' " 

This is quite touching, but unfortunately the 
dates don't fit in; the Reign of Terror was 
scarcely consummated until 1793, when Robes 
pierre for a time was triumphant, de Lisle was 
undoubtedly at Strasbourg in 1792, and was not 
taken captive till more than a twelvemonth after 
the song was turning all France into demons, 
and, as I have said, the song was already pub- 
hshed'm England by J. Bland, Holborn, London. 
But I am enabled to demolish this fable of 
Boucher by advancing the countless fictitious 
claims of other impostors. Amongst the many 
appears to have been a certain Holtzmann who 
was discovered by a Monsieur Tappert. Only 
quite recently (1892) the origin of "La Mar 
seillaise" was greatly exercising the minds of the 
good people of Cahors. It seems, according 
to the correspondent of a London news 
paper, that the bishop of that place happened to 


find himself in the course of a public ceremony, 
forced to listen to the famous Republican hymn 
and apparently was not at all shocked, conse 
quently some officious nobody wrote to the 
local papers about him. One of these, the 
" Semaine Religieuse," took the matter up in a 
manner least expected, and said " How is it 
possible that anybody should be astonished that 
a bishop should listen with complaisance to an 
air which in reality has a religious origin?" 
The idea, promulgated not for the first time, 
was that the author plagiarized it from a piece 
of sacred music. Then was revived the story 
not of Simon Tappertit, but M. Tappert. He 
affirmed that the theme of the " Marseillaise" 
was to be found m a credo of a mass composed 
in 1776 by Holtzmann, chapel master of the 
parish church at Meersbourg. Naturally this 
announcement caused an immense sensation 
among the musical savants , and more particular 
ly among those who worshipped the piece as a 
national and patriotic anthem. M. Tappert was 
immediadely called on to explain where this 
mass was to be found, but up to the last he 
failed to do so, and therefore we are at liberty 
to assume that he invented the story for some 
reason or other. In 1886 it was also stated 
that the air was taken from a religious source 


by M. Arthur Loth in the " Univers," who de 
clared that Grisons, although a clerical, had 
embraced the cause of the Revolution. But 
Grisons did not avow himself the composer 
until 1793 a year after it was really written 
when he actually did introduce it into a 
into a score which was executed by choristers 
from the church of St. Omer. Of course his 
claim was very soon put out of court when the 
matter was thoroughly investigated he had 
simply stolen a few bars from " La Marseillaise," 
and embodied them in his own work. It is odd 
that the piece should have been so often tem 
porarily appropriated by some charlatan anxious 
to secure a little cheap fame. The " Marseil 
laise" has been made use of by many well- 
known people, but invariably the indebtedness 
has been acknowledged by them : Salieri, for 
instance, in the opening chorus of his opera, 
"Palmira" (1795). It stands in Grisons' intro 
duction to his oratorio, " Esther," which is still 
in MS., and which excited so much speculation 
as to whether he invented the melody or de 
Lisle. Schumann uses it in his song of the 
" Two Grenadiers" with excellent effect, also in 
his overture to " Hermann and Dorothea." 

Louis Philippe conferred a pension on de 
Lisle for his patriotism and poetry. There is a 


picture by Pils, representing de Lisle singing the 
" Marseillaise," well known from the engraving. 
Finally, there is no simpler method of settling 
this vexed question than by referring to " La 
Verite sur la Paternite de la Marseillaise : par 
A. Rouget de Lisle," published in 1865. The 
writer was a nephew of the original Rouget, and, 
says W. F. Waller in "Notes and Queries," 
he showed, by precise documentary and other 
evidence, that Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle 
was a captain of engineers, quartered at Stras 
bourg in 1792; that when Dietrich, Mayor of 
Strasbourg, wanted a patriotic song for the 
Bas Rhin volunteers then under orders to join 
Luckner's corps to sing, the engineer cap 
tain went home to his lodgings, and on the 
night of April 24th composed the words and 
music of a song which he called " Chant de 
Guerre pour TArmee du Rhin," the title which 
appears on the first edition of the song, pub 
lished by Dannbach of Strasbourg, and dedi 
cated to Marechal Liickner. This " Chant de 
Guerre" was sung at Dietrich's house on April 
25th. The scene is familiar enough, as shown 
in the engraving from Isidore Pils's picture. 
Band parts were ready next day, and the band 
of the Garde Rationale played the " Chant" on 
Sunday, April gpth. It was a matter of two 


months before it got to Marseilles. On June 
25th Mireur sang it at a banquet there, and 
with so much effect that it was printed and dis 
tributed amongst Barbaroux's " Six Hundred" 
who were about to march to Paris. They sang 
it when they entered Paris on July 30th, and at 
the attack on the Tuileries on August loth. 

Jean Alexandre Boucher, who claimed to have 
written the song, as previously stated, was an 
extraordinary individual, born the same year his 
homonym, the Painter of Dubarrydom, died. 
He was a Court fiddler at the early age of six. 
He was of the " Concert Spirituel" at seven ; 
and solo-violinist to the King of Spain whom 
Napoleon Empereur vanquished. After the 
peace he toured through Europe, and made a 
great sensation wherever he went. He called 
himself "Alexandre des Violons," and won a 
reputation second only to that of the great 
Paganini. His chief hobby seemed to be in 
imitating Napoleon, whom he closely resembled. 
He made a considerable fortune, and died in 

I have purposely given all the versions and 
particulars respecting the " Marseillaise" that I 
have come across from time to time, and I trust 
that such facts as I have been at some pains to 
unearth and verify, will remove all doubt on the 


subject of the authorship of this composition 
for the future. A full account of the song may 
also be found in " Les Melodies Populaires de la 
France," by Loquin, published in Paris, 1879. 
In conclusion, it is pleasant to be able to add 
that Frenchmen have acknowledged the genius 
of Rouget de Lisle at last by erecting a statue 
to him in their beloved city of Paris, 1892. 

Amongst de Lisle's best works may be men 
tioned " Hymne dithyrambique sur la conjura 
tion de Robespierre et la revolution du 9 ther- 
midor" (1794), " Chant des Vengeances" (1798), 
"Chant du Combat" (1800, for the Egyptian 
Army). He also wrote the libretto of the 
comic opera "Jacquot, ou 1'ecole des meres" 
(music by Delia Maria, 1795), and of the grand 
opera " Macbeth," to the music of Chelard, 1827. 

I can trace only two plays in which the story 
of the writing of the " Marseillaise" has been 
utilized, the best, called " An Old Song," by the 
Rev. Freeman Wills and A. Fitz-Maurice King, 
was produced at the Great Hall, Tunbridge 
Wells, August 2nd, 1894, and reproduced with 
out much success at the Criterion Theatre in 
the fall of 1896. 




THE sale of a chest in February, 1893, alleged 
to be associated with the stoiy of the " Mistletoe 
Bough" at Basketts-Fletchwood, naturally re 
vived interest in the tragedy (or tragedies) upon 
which the song is founded, and which is said to 
have happened in so many families during the 
last century, and much speculation was rife. 
Some years ago several correspondents tried to 
thresh the subject out in the pages of " Notes 
and Queries," but only with partial success. 
Lieutenant- Colonel H. F. Greatwood, who has 
been kind enough to let me see a booklet on 
the subject, claims to have the identical chest at 
The Castle, Tiverton, North Devon, but I fear 
that such is not the case. This chest was for a 
number of years in the possession of the Cope 
family, of Bramshill, Hertford Bridge, Hamp 
shire, and the late Sir William Cope wrote the 
booklet mentioned, giving many interesting par- 


ticulars respecting the same. The story as told 
in verse both by Samuel Rogers and Thomas 
Haynes Bayly, is as follows : A youthful and 
playful bride on her wedding day hid herself, 
while playing hide and seek, in an oak chest ; she 
let down the lid, the spring caught, and she was 
buried alive. She was sought for high and low, 
but it was not until some considerable time had 
elapsed that the old chest was broken open, and 
her skeleton discovered. But though this story 
is stated as having occurred at Bramshill, no 
reliable data have ever been discovered to make 
the belief any more than a tradition. It is 
denied that any Miss Cope ever met with such 
a fate, though the incidents have been circum 
stantially set forth. A lady wrote to the late 
Sir William Cope, that there could be no doubt 
of Bramshill being the seat of the tragedy ; that 
Miss Cope was extremely young, and just home 
from school at the time she was married. She 
proposed a game of hide and seek, which was 
pooh-poohed for a long time. At last she said, 
"Well, then, I shall go and hide myself/' and 
she was never found again. The family left 
the place dreadfully unhappy. About two years 
after Lady Cope wrote to the housekeeper to 
say they were coming down ; and in going about 
the rooms with the housemaids to prepare for 


them, she (the housekeeper) missed some 
counterpanes or something similar. In search 
ing for the missing articles she went into some 
rooms that had not been occupied for many 

" Oh, they may be in the chest, and yet I do 
not think it likely," said the housekeeper. 

However, she opened the chest and to her 
horror beheld the wedding garments of the lost 
girl. Upon the family being made acquainted 
with the discovery they had forty rooms pulled 
down, as the mansion was excessively large, and 
they could not bear to go into that part of the 
house again. It is true that, at the beginning 
of the last century, a projecting wing containing 
thirty-three rooms was pulled down. But no 
faith is placed in the story of the lost bride. 
However, there was a daughter, Elizabeth, of 
Sir John Cope, the sixth baronet, who met her 
death in this way. She died, aged 13, in 1730. 
But of her being the lady of the chest there 
is no tradition, for if there had been any truth 
in this version, Sir Richard, the ninth baronet, 
who was her cousin and nine or ten years old 
at the time of her death, would surely have 
known. He died in 1836. It is stated, how 
ever, that he was a man of peculiar disposition 
and did not like being questioned about the 


chest or the accident, whatever it was, that 
caused his cousin Elizabeth's death. 

The oak chest now at the Castle, Tiverton, 
was described by the late Sir William Cope as 
follows : "The chest is one of those called in 
Italian ' Cassone/in which the bride's trousseau 
was enclosed and conveyed to her future home. 
It is about seven or eight feet long ; about three 
feet high and the same in breadth. The ex 
terior and the interior of the lid are inlaid with 
ornamental designs. The front is divided into 
three panels. The subjects of these panels are 
landscapes, in one of which is a man cutting 
down a tree ; the stiles dividing and enclosing 
the panels are each ornamented with the figure 
of a man with the legs of an animal (a satyr). 
The two on the exterior stiles are carrying goats, 
the other two on the dividing stiles are blowing 
horns ; one carrying a trident, the other a club. 
At the foot of one of the satyrs is a tortoise ; of 
another, a serpent ; and of the other two, dogs 
or some similar quadrupeds. The frame is de 
corated with arabesques. The inside of the lid, 
which has three hinges the long straps of which 
end in fleur-de-lys, is decorated. In the upper 
centre is the globe, supported by two ' amoretti' 
and below these are arabesques. On one side 
in a landscape are two unarmed figures kneeling 


in homage to a crowned figure, holding a sceptre, 
and seated on a throne ; and behind the kneel 
ing figures is a man in full armour. On the 
opposite side are two men fully armed, and with 
shields, meeting a third. At each extremity is 
a man in armour standing on a tesselated pave 
ment. The whole of this ornamentation is 
bordered by arabesques." Assuming this orna 
mentation to be of Italian workmanship, Sir 
William Cope was willing to give credence to 
the story told by a lady of a distinguished 
Italian house to the effect that the incident 
happened in her own family, and was a well- 
known record. The chest was said to have 
been sold to an Englishman, whom Sir William 
believed to have been the fifth baronet, who 
resided in Italy for many years, and who con 
veyed it to Bramshill about the beginning of 
last century. He cites Rogers's " Ginevra" in 
support of his contention, but unfortunately the 
poet in a footnote to his poem said : " This 
story is, I believe, founded on fact, though 
the time and place are uncertain. Many old 
houses in England lay claim to it." Rogers 
laid the scene in Modena. At Florence, how 
ever, is an old Castello, opposite to the church 
of St. Florence, where the " identical chest" is 
still shown to visitors. 
S 81 


Miss Mitford, in 1829 (" Life," vol. ii., 281), 
says the story belongs to Bramshill, Sir John 
Cope's house in Hampshire. But she adds: 
" This story is common to old houses ; it was 
told me of the great house at Malsanger." 
This last house is near Basingstoke and at 
nearly the same date is said to have been un 
occupied. There seems to be no doubt that the 
old oak chest of Bramshill was connected with 
some tragical event, but whether it took place 
in Italy or England it is hard to say, though I 
incline to the belief that it was in England, as 
the oak chest was at one time one of the prin 
cipal articles of furniture in most family man 
sions. The oak, too, is a special product of 
England, but not of Italy. Moreover, the same 
sad circumstance has been associated with at 
least four other houses. First at a Leicester 
shire house, the house of the Hartopps ; sec 
ondly at Marwell Old Hall near Winchester, 
where the coffer sold at Basketts-Fletchwood 
was, previously to its passing into the possession 
of the late Rev. J. Haygarth, at Upham, 
Hants, at whose death it went to Mr. Lawson 
Tait's house in the New Forest ; thirdly, at a 
house not far from Bridg water. In the parish 
church of Bawdrip, about three miles from 
Bridgwater there is a monument to Edward 


Lovell, his wife Eleanor (nee Bradford) and their 
two daughters, Maria and Eleanor. The in 
scription touching the latter is : " Eleanor . . . 
obiit Jun 14 1681. Hanc, subito et immaturo 
(ipsos pene inter hymenaeos) fato correptam 
mcestissimus 1-uxit maritus, et in gratam piamq, 
parentum sororis et dilectissimae conjugis mem- 
oriam, monumentum hoc erigi voluit." The 
month Jun. might easily be a mistake for Jan. 
Roughly translated, the above may be rendered 
as, " Her afflicted husband mourned her snatched 
away well nigh on her wedding day by a sud 
den and untimely fate ; and he resolved to have 
this monument erected to the pleasant (agree 
able) and pious memory of parents, sister, and 
most-beloved spouse." Tradition connects this 
sudden death with the story of the bride play 
ing at hide and seek. It is curious that in 
Haynes Bayly's song the bridegroom's name 
should be Lovell. There is no mention in the 
monument of the name of the bereaved hus 
band. The father, Edward Lovell was fourteen 
years rector of Bawdrip, and fellow of Jesus 
College, Cambridge, and died in 1675, so he 
could not have been present at the wedding as 
represented in the song. He came from Bat- 
combe, near Castle Gary, at which latter place 
the Lovells were seated in very early days. It 


is quite conceivable that the bride and bride 
groom were cousins, both Lovells, and it would 
be interesting to know upon which legend 
Bayly based his lyric. 

The third house that is held to be the scene 
of the tragic mishap is Exton Hall, the seat of 
the Noels. The incident is related by an an 
cestor of the family, it having been handed 
down from Dorothy Noel, bom in 1693, who 
was present as a child at the time of the occur 
rencesay about 1700-1705. Her version of 
the story is as follows : There was merry-making 
at Christmas in the old family hall, and amateur 
theatricals were performed. In one of the 
scenes it was necessary to represent a funeral. 
Accordingly one of the young ladies present 
personated the dead girl of the piece, and was 
lowered into an old oak chest, and the lid closed 
over her. When the scene was finished the lid 
was raised, when to the dismay of the party she 
was discovered to be dead. Never again were 
private theatricals enacted in that house, for the 
judgment of God was supposed to have been 
manifested in the event, and the family (said to 
have been previously given to gaiety and disre 
gard of serious subjects) thereafter became noted 
for its strict performance of religious duties. 

This variant does not fit in with Haynes 


Bayly's once popular song, wherein he indi 
cates that the game of hide and seek was 
played. It may be here stated that Collet tells 
a similar story to Bayly's in his " Relics of 
Literature ;" it also finds a place in the " Causes 
Celebres." The words of the song at once dis 
pose of the claims of Italy as being the scene 
of the catastrophe, though by some eccentric 
freak of fancy, when it appeared in a collection 
called " Songs of the Season," set to music by 
Sir H. R. Bishop about 1830, these lines from 
Rogers's " Italy" were used as a motto : 

" The happiest of the happy, 
When a spring-lock that lay in ambush there, 
Fastened her down for ever. ' ' 

But there is no evidence that Bayly was in 
fluenced by the " Ginevra" of Rogers. Rogers 
was the popular poet of the period, and every 
body quoted from him. 

"The mistletoe hung in the Castle Hall, 
The holly branch shone on the old oak wall ; 
And the baron' s retainers blithe and gay 
Were keeping their Christmas holiday. 
The baron beheld, with a father's pride, 
His beautiful child, young Lovell' s bride ; 
While she with her bright eyes seemed to be 
The star of the goodly company. 

Oh, the mistletoe bough 1 the mistletoe bough ! 


" ' I'm weary of dancing now,' she cried ; 
' Here tarry a moment, I'll hide, I'll hide I 
And, Lovell, be sure thou' rt first to trace 
The clue to my secret lurking place ' 
Away she ran, and her friends began 
Each tower to seaich, and each nook to scan ; 
And young Lovell cried, ' Oh ' where dost thou hide ? 
I'm lonesome without thee, my own dear bride !' 

" They sought her that night, they sought her next day ! 
And they sought her in vain, when a week passed away ! 
In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot, 
Young Lovell sought wildly, but found her not. 
And yeais flew by, and their grief at last 
Was told as a sorrowful tale long past ; 
And when Lovell appeared,the children cried, 
' See, the old man weeps for his fairy bride 1' 

" At length an old chest that had long lain hid 
Was found in the Castle they raised the lid 
And a skeleton form lay mouldering there, 
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair. 
Oh ' sad was her fate in sportive jest, 
She hid from her lord in the old oak chest ; 
It closed with a spring, and, dreadful doom ! 
The bride lay clasped in her living tomb !" 

This is all essentially English, particularly the 
Christmas festivities, when the baron's retainers 
were wont to keep their Christmas holidays the 
same as the barons themselves. Mrs. Bayly in 
the "Life" of her husband, published in 1844, 
throws no light on the subject, but it seems 
tolerably evident that the ballad was founded 


by Bayly (who was born at Bath in 1797, and 
died 1839, after having written hundreds of 
songs and some thirty-six dramatic pieces) on 
some well-known family tradition, and in all 
probability he at some time or other visited 
Bawdrip and read the inscription in the church 
yard, which I have transcribed above. Indeed, 
Bayly might have heard the tale of the Lovell 
family from his father, who was a solicitor at 
Bath, or he may even have met a descendant 
of the Lovells is it not probable that the elder 
Bayly was the Lovell family solicitor, and con- 
'sequently in full possession of their history? 
But what has become of this particular old oak 
chest? The one sold on the loth of February, 
1893, belonging to Mr. Lawson Tait, of Bas- 
ketts-Fletchwood, was said by a gentleman who 
saw it to be of Spanish mahogany, and not of 
oak. Will the story ever be traced to its original 
source ? Bayly was the author of, amongst 
other songs, " I'd be a Butterfly," " She Wore 
a Wreath of Roses," and many poems of a 
homely nature. Joseph Philip Knight wrote 
the music of " She Wore a Wreath of Roses," 
and to most of Bayly's lyrics. He was born in 
1812 and died 1886. 

Although Haynes Bayly was a dramatic 
author, he does not appear to have seen the 
' 87 


possibilities of a drama in the story of the song ; 
but during his lifetime a fellow-dramatist, 
Charles Somerset, turned it to account, and 
produced at the Garrick Theatre, Whitechapel, 
in 1834, a melodrama in two acts, entitled, " The 
Mistletoe Bough ; or, the Fatal Chest." Mr. 
Somerset's editor says that " a story in Rogers's 
'Italy' produced the ballad upon which this 
drama is founded," and gives an extract from the 
poem. He continues : " Mr. Somerset, seeing the 
dramatic impossibility of confining himself to this 
single incident, has amplified the story by intro 
ducing a variety of characters, the most promi 
nent of which is a Goblin Page, a dwarfish, 
deformed, malignant imp of mischief. The lady 
dies, not by her own youthful frolic, but the 
vengeance of a rejected lover, who, after she 
has got into the chest, stabs her and closes the 
lid. His treachery meets with retribution. The 
spirit of his victim stands forth as his accuser ; 
and, in a paroxysm of shame, remorse, and 
despair, he plants a dagger in his heart !" The 
transpontine and cispontine dramas were nearly 
all built that way sixty years ago the avenging 
spirit was always on top, so to speak. It is a 
most wonderful and weird concoction of tragedy 
and farce playing at hide and seek to the end. 
The song is introduced and sung as a " Romance 


and Chorus/' and many liberties are taken with 
Bayly's words. The Spirit also glides on to 
wards the end, and sings a new version of the 
lyric, suitable to the occasion, to her sleeping 
lover, Lovell. At one time " The Mistletoe 
Bough" was a great favourite at the pantomime 
theatres, and it was frequently introduced into 
the orchestral selections. 

Amongst the many novelists who have used 
this title may be mentioned Anthony Trollope, 
who contributed a story called the " Mistletoe 
Bough" to the Christmas number of the " Illus 
trated London News," December 2 1st, 1861. 




THE story of this at one period extraordinarily 
popular song, has been told many times in 
various ways. The simplicity of the words 
and homely characteristics of the melody natu 
rally appealed to the public some few decades 
ago, and occasionally one comes across it as a 
favourite side by side with " Little Nell," " What 
are the Wild Waves Saying?" and similar pieces, 
especially in country houses. Its sale for many 
years was something abnormal, and even now 
there is a more or less steady demand for it. 
The publisher, Mr. Turner, is said to have 
reaped a fortune by it its author, oblivion. 
But let me relate the romance concerning the 
origin of the song which was said to have been 
written and composed by James Lawson, whose 
name will be looked for in vain on this or any 
other publication. 

Here is the story. On a certain cold day in 
the month of January, 1850, the door of Mr. 
Turner's music shop in the Poultry, Cheapside, 


London, was nervously opened, and a most un 
lovely, unclean specimen of ragged humanity 
dragged himself in. He looked as though he 
had not had a bath for months. His beard was 
unkempt, dirty, and matted. In the place of 
boots he wore some filthy rags, and altogether 
he was a most pitiable and degraded-looking 

One of the clerks eyed him cautiously, and 
told him to clear out as speedily as possible. 

Two ladies who were in the shop noticed his 
woe-begone appearance, and were about to 
give him some money, when the kind-hearted 
manager stepped forward, and seeing the poor 
fellow shivering with cold and, apparently, 
hunger, took him into the workshop so that he 
might have a " warm up" by the fire. A few 
minutes later Mr. Turner, the proprietor, came 
in, and seeing the ragged individual, asked what 
he wanted, and " who allowed you in ?" 

" I did," said the manager; "the poor fellow 
looked so cold and miserable, that I could not 
send him into the piercing wind again without 
giving him a warm ; and besides, he says he 
has some business with you." 

" Business with me ?" 

" Yes, sir ; I have a song I should like you to 
listen to," answered the tramp. 


Mr. Turner eyed him from head to foot, and 
then laughed incredulously. 

The miserable-looking object at the stove 
began to grow uneasy, and begged to be per 
mitted to play the melody of his song, which 
he then unearthed from his pocket, and handed 
to the music publisher. Mr. Turner looked at 
it, and said, " Who wrote this ?" 

" I did, sir," was the reply. 

" You ! Well, I'll have it played over, and 
if it's any good I'll give you something for it." 

" I beg your pardon, sir, I should prefer to 
play it myself." 

" What ? You play ? Well, bring him up to 
the piano-room when he gets warm, and we'll 
humour him," said Mr. Turner to his manager. 

Veiy shortly the bundle of rags was seated 
at a concert grand piano, and " Ever of Thee" 
was played for the first time by its composer, 
James Lawson. 

His listeners were electrified when they heard 
this dilapidated tramp make the piano almost 
speak. His touch is said to have been simply 
marvellous, and his very soul seemed to sob at 
his finger-tips. When he had finished, he turned 
to his small audience, and said, apologetically, 

" I'd like to sing it for you, but I have a ter 
rible cold. I have not been in bed for five nights. 


I am hungry and ill, and I feel I could not do 
it justice." 

The publisher was almost dumb with amaze 
ment. The air was so catching and plaintive, 
that he felt sure it would take and be a success ; 
and he was convinced in his mind that this was 
no ordinary man, but one with a history that 
was worth investigating. So he determined to 
cultivate him, and pressed him to sing at least 
one verse of the song. Lawson protested, but 
finally agreed, and if Turner was amazed when 
he heard him play, he was positively enraptured 
when that hungry voice, hungry with love, 
hungry physically, poured out, in the sweetest 
of tenors, the first stanza of the song in which 
his soul lived. It was the story of a lost love, 
but he cherished it, and, as he sang, it was easy 
to see that he lived and breathed only for that 
love. " Ever of Thee" has never been so sung 
since. That trial verse made its success, and 
to the experienced publisher, Mr. Turner, it 
was decidedly evident that he had secured a 
great song. 

Addressing his manager, he said, " Take this 
man along ; get him a bath, a shave, and some 
decent clothes, in fact, have him properly at 
tended to, and then bring him back, and we 
will see about this song." 


Accordingly this was done, and a wonderful 
transformation took place when "rigged out" 
from top to toe in clean wholesome clothing, 
James Lawson felt himself a new man; and 
indeed, he looked what in reality he was, or had 
been, a gentleman. One of the causes of his down 
fall was not long in manifesting itself, when he 
expressed a desire several times to have a drink. 

" But won't you let me have a drink ?" he 
said to his companion. "I want it please let 
me have a drink." 

The manager, however, discreetly refused to 
grant this almost feverish request ; he told Mr. 
Lawson that if he wanted a dinner it should be 
provided, but drink he could not have. Finally 
the two went into the " Ship and Turtle" dining- 
rooms, and over a good meal, the author and 
composer of " Ever of Thee" told the following 
story : 

" I was once rich you know what I am now. 
You were astonished to hear me play the piano 
so well. That little song has been the only 
companion from which I have gained any com 
fort during the last twelve months. It brought 
back to me the days when I was rich, loved, 
respected and happy ; of course it has its sad 
side for me. But the memory of what it recalls 
is the dearest thing in my existence." 


The manager interrupted him at this point 
and indicated that it was getting late. 

" Please bear with me," rejoined Lawson. 
" I will not detain you long. Let me tell you 
how and why I composed ' Ever of Thee/ 
Two years ago I met a girl at Brighton. If 
God ever allowed one of his angels to come 
to earth, she was that one. I adored her. She 
seemed to return my affection. I escorted her 
everywhere, and was at her beck and call, morn, 
noon, and night, and it was currently believed 
that Miss Blank and I were engaged. I had to 
return to London on business and when I went 
back to Brighton she was gone. 

" Three months after I met her at a ball. 
She had just finished a waltz with a tall, good- 
looking man, and was promenading the hall on 
his arm. She recognized me. But when I 
said, ' How do you do, Miss Blank/ she quickly 

"'I'm well, thank you, Mr. Lawson; but I 
am surprised to hear you call me Miss Blank. 
When you left Brighton so suddenly, I thought 
I should never see you again. You left no 
address, never called again, and well, I am 
married !' 

" ' Married ! To whom ?' I gasped. 

" ' To Mr. Prize,' she replied, pointing at the 


same time to the gentleman with, whom she 
had been dancing. 

" That ended my life. My Marie, my dream, 
was gone. I left the hall, went to a gambling 
place I knew, and in drink and gambling endea 
voured to kill my grief. It lasted but a little 
while, this fearful dissipation, and in four months 
I was ruined. 

" Then came my trial. The men who had 
played with me and won my money shunned 
me. My friends shut their doors against me, 
and my last sovereign was gone. I was utterly 
stranded, homeless and wretched. I had no 
desire to live, no energy to do anything. For 
nights I slept in the cabmen's coffee-houses; 
there I was considered a nuisance, for I still 
drank heavily, spending all I could get in drink, 
and some friendly doorstep was my only bed, 
I pawned everything I possessed, and finally 
I spent three months in a workhouse under an 
assumed name. 

" It was there the presence of Marie haunted 
me again. One day Christmas Day we 
were at dinner. Several rich people came to 
distribute among us gifts, such as tobacco, warm 
clothing, tea, and so on. I was weary and did 
not look at the visitors ; suddenly a voice I knew 
too well said to me, 'My good man, which 


would you prefer, some warm clothing, or some 
pipes and tobacco ?' I looked up. It was 
Marie. I rushed from the table out into the 
garden at the back, and there I was found, 

O 7 ' 

hours after, insensible. 

" In my bed there in the workhouse-hospital, 
I wrote the words of the song you heard me 
sing to-day. Then I got well, and, sick of the 
life, I left the place and became night-watch 
man at some new buildings they were putting 
up in Aldersgate Street. While there the 
melody of my song came to me. I got a scrap 
of music-paper and jotted it down, and for a 
time was happy. My old friends often passed 
me at night, jolly and careless, little dreaming 
that James Lawson was the poor night-watch 
man who answered their indolent questions. 

" Often, when all was still, I poured out my 
soul in this tender song, and after a while the 
homeless gamins used to come and listen to me. 
It pleased them, and perhaps made them for 
get their misery. To me it brought back the 
memory of a dead love and ruined life. But 
you are tiring of my story there is little more 
to tell. I could not endure the solitary medita 
tion of my past I again began to drink it 
became a disease with me. I lost my situation, 
and as a last resource I thought that perhaps 
7 97 


my song might be worth a few pounds, and so 
took it to Mr. Turner." 

At this point the poor fellow burst into tears. 
When he was himself again, they left the dining- 
rooms and repaired to Mr. Turner, who, ad 
dressing Lawson, after having spoken with his 
manager aside, said : 

"Mr. Lawson, here are ten shillings. It 
will be enough to get your supper and a decent 
room to-night. To-morrow morning I want 
you to call here, and I shall give you a good 
position in my warehouse. As for your song, 
I want you to remember this : if you will keep 
sober I will pay you a fair royalty ; but if you 
spend this ten shillings in drink, not another 
penny will you get." 

This seems rather a high hand for the pub 
lisher to have taken, considering that .he had 
only that day seen Lawson, and he seems to 
have shown a great lack of tact and discretion. 
Anyhow, he had no right to dictate such terms 
to one who had suffered so much. Lawson 
certainly did not know the value of his song, 
while the publisher, who eventually made a 
fortune by it, did. As it is stated that he did 
not pay Lawson any royalty for the song, one 
would like to know how he salved his con 
science while he was robbing this weak mortal 


of his rights. If he had acted humanely at once, 
he might have rescued the outcast and restored 
him to society. 

But to continue this distressing history. Law- 
son left the shop and did not make his appear 
ance again for five days. Then he was in a 
condition almost as bad as when he first entered 
it. His vest was gone; his boots were ex 
changed for old ones ; his hat was shabby in 
the extreme. His coat (an old one) was buttoned 
tightly round his collarless neck, and his face 
was dirty and his chin unshaven. Mr. Turner 
looked at him. He did not even speak to him. 
The smell of stale alcohol sufficiently told its 
own tale. He took half-a-crown from his 
pocket, handed it to Lawson, and turned on his 
heel, saying to his manager, " If this man comes 
here again put him out." 

The composer of " Ever of Thee" left the 
shop and never entered Turner's place again. 
What became of him none can say, for he was 
never seen more. 

Now this story, which was first printed (as 
far as I can ascertain) in the " Albany (New 
York) Journal/' in the winter of 1888, and was 
afterwards rather extensively copied into the 
English papers in London and the provinces 
under various titles this story, I am informed 


by the publishers, " is merely and absolutely the 
creation of some inventive writer." Yet there 
are some circumstances connected with the 
issue of the song which I am not able to fathom, 
and which create a sort of mystery regarding 
it The person who wrote the history seemed 
to indicate that he was in the employ of the 
publishers when the song was purchased. 

"Ever of Thee" was published in 1859, if 
one may judge from the copy in the British 
Museum, which bears the date stamp of re 
ceipt 1 8th October of that year. The words 
were by George Linley, and the music by Foley 
Hall. So, naturally, the question arises, who 
was James Lawson, who claims to have written 
and composed the song? He certainly was 
not George Linley, who was a prolific writer 
who wrote ballads, songs, and operettas for the 
theatres, and was well known. He wrote both 
words and music of " The Toymaker," a suc 
cessful operetta produced at Covent Garden, 
November 2Oth, 1861. Linley was born in 
1798, and died September loth, 1865. H. Foley 
Hall, besides composing " Ever of Thee," wrote 
the music of many other songs including " Thy 
Smile turns all to Light" (words by G. Linley) ;. 
"Blame not the Heart" (words by E. N. 
Browne) 1860; "Far from those I love," 1859; 



"O yes thou'lt Remember," 1854; "Stars 
Shining Above," 1860; "Still in my Dreams" 
(words by G. Linley), 1857; "Thou art my 
Guiding Star" (Linley), 1858; and "When I 
am far away" (words by Miss G. B. Burton), 
1848. George Linley and H. Foley Hall were 
two distinct persons I am assured by one who 
knew both, but I am unable to find any par 
ticulars of Hall's life or what sort of a man he 
was, except that he was somewhat erratic. All 
the lyrics that he set were of an extremely 
sentimental nature, and not of a very high 
poetic standard. How the circumstantial story 
of " Ever of Thee" came to be written I cannot 
say ; but I am now in a position to prove that 
James Lawson and H. Foley Hall were not one 
and the same person, for there was such a per 
son as Lawson, though the publisher refuses to 
throw any light on the subject. 

Since writing the foregoing, I have met two 
gentlemen who were acquainted with Foley 
Hall, and I have heard from others who knew 
both Hall and Lawson. The fact is, that though 
this singularly circumstantial story may be quite 
true as far as the reporter is concerned to whom 
some one, Lawson presumably, stated the mat 
ter, it is otherwise false from beginning to end. 
A magnificent effort of some one's James Law- 


son's, possibly imagination. Mr. Turner did 
purchase the song, but it was from George 
Linley, who wrote the words, and Foley Hall, 
who composed the music. The song, it is true, 
was sung by James Lawson, a tenor, during the 
years 1856 and later, and it was published in 
October, 1859. Curiously enough, both Foley 
Hall and James Lawson were very erratic and 
extraordinary men, and very likely, after the 
death of Foley Hall, Lawson, broken down and 
ruined through too great a fondness for the 
bottle, thinking to raise some money when 
stranded in New York, invented and related 
the above fiction. Though the publishers de 
clare the story to be without foundation, I am 
inclined to the belief, supported by certain 
facts communicated to me by those who were 
acquainted with both Foley Hall and James 
Lawson, that the latter, or some other hard up 
singer, did tell the above fable to the unsus 
pecting New York scribe, especially as Foley 
Hall gave MS. copies of the song to several 
singers of the day, in order to get it known to 
the public. And it was sung at several music 
halls, including the Trevor, Knightsbridge, 
during 1856 and onwards. Mr. Beaumont 
Read, then singing as " Master Beaumont," was 
presented with a manuscript copy of the song 



by Foley Hall, and he sang it in 1857. Of the 
ultimate fate of James Lawson I am unable to 
give any reliable particulars, but Foley Hall, 
who looked more like a well-to-do farmer than 
a musician, died in Chelmsford Gaol, possibly 
before the publication of the song, as one who 
was present at his deathbed, and who is still 
alive, is strongly of opinion that he expired in 
1859, attended by his beautiful and heartbroken 
wife Foley Hall, like most composers and 
wanderers in Bohemia, was always hard up, 
and the cause of his incarceration was through 
some irregularity in the passing of cheques but 
over that matter let us draw a veil. Whether 
Foley Hall or his next-of-kin ever received any 
royalty for the song I cannot say. Possibly he 
sold his interests right out. The royalty system 
of payment was not practised very much thirty- 
five years ago. 

" Ever of Thee" is forgotten now, perhaps, 
though in the country theatre it used to be 
almost invariably played in the orchestra when 
" East Lynne" was put up as an attraction. 
From a musical point of view the song is 
beneath serious criticism, though the air is 
" catchy," and, as for the words, I give them 
for your verdict : 



" Ever of thee I'm fondly dreaming, 

Thy gentle voice my spirit can cheer ; 
Thou wert the star, that mildly beaming, 

Shone o' er my path when all was dark and drear. 
Still in my breast thy form I cherish, 

Ev'ry land thought like a bird flies to thee ; 
Ah ! never till life and mem' ry perish, 

Can I forget how dear thou art to me 
Morn, noon, and night, where' er I may be, 
Fondly I'm dreaming, ever of thee. 

" Ever of thee, when sad and lonely, 

Wand' nng afar my soul joy' d to dwell ; 
Ah, then I felt I lov'd thee only, 

All seem' d to fade before affection' s spell. 
Years have not chill' d the love I chensh, 

True as the stars hath my heart been to thee ; 
Ah, never till life and mem'ry perish, 

Can I forget how dear thou art to me." 

It is almost equal, perhaps, to some of the 
drawing-room songs of the present day. 





MOST of the National (historical) German songs 
date from the time during which the German 
States were under the heel of the great Napo 
leon, or had just emancipated themselves that 
is, from 1805 to 1814. As is well known, from 
the earliest ages Germany was cut up into 
many provinces ruled by different princes and 
barons, and subject to varying and far from 
satisfactory laws. These separate states were 
constantly at war with each other, and con 
sequently dissensions were ever rife. There 
were to be considered the conflicting and 
mighty powers of Austria and Prussia, and 
the lesser ones of Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and 
Saxony. Then followed Westphalia, Hesse- 
Darmstadt, Mecklenburg, and a vast number 
of other principalities more or less turbulent, 
and dissatisfied with the ruling of the petty 
princes and the controlling of the Great Powers. 
And it was not until the repulse of Napoleon 


in Russia, and the thrashing his armies received 
in Spain from the Duke of Wellington, that any 
hope of deliverance appeared on the horizon. 
In 1813 Frederick William III. of Prussia struck 
the keynote of freedom when he called upon all 
the states to fight together for the " Fatherland." 
The French were routed, and the Battle of 
Waterloo ended the murderous career of Napo 
leon, and set Germany on the high road to 
prosperity, though still not an undivided coun 
try. It is to this epoch-making time that Ger 
many owes the birth of such songs as " Was^ 
ist des Deutschen Vaterland," "*-Bie Schwert- 
lied," and other national songs. Indeed, all the 
songs of this period are really war hymns, and 
encourage armed rebellion against the French 
Power. But they were not exclusively directed 
to the driving out of the French forces. The 
French Revolution had sounded the knell of 
despotism, not only in France, but in Germany 
also. The principle underrunning all these 
battle-chants was : First drive out the French, 
and then restore the native powers that be, but 
with essential modifications. The princely pre 
rogatives were to be curtailed, and more consti 
tutional modes of government introduced. This 
explains to a certain extent the extraordinary 
patience with which the German princes bore 


the French yoke : they feared the new aspira 
tions of their subjects, who, if victorious, would 
dimmish their influence and strength personally 
quite as much as Napoleon I. It was out of 
these sentiments of fearsomeness and distrust 
that the notorious " Holy Alliance" grew. 

Chief among the new politicians was the 
educated youth of the country, notably the 
students' associations (Burschenschaften). In 
those days it was treason, punishable by im 
prisonment, to talk of reconstituting the Ger 
man Empire, and consequently up rose the 
Secret Societies intent upon internal reforma 
tion. The Bztrschenschaften, by the way, con 
tributed enormously to the popular song-lore. 

One of the most powerful war-hymns was 
that of Arndt, the first verse of which runs : 

" Der Gott, der Eisen wacnsen Hess, 

Der wollte keine Knechte ; 
Drum gab er Lanze, Schwert und Spiess ; 

Dem Mann in seine Rechte. 
Dram gab er mm dem kiihnen Muth 

Den Zom der freien Rede ; 
Dass er bestunde bis auf ' s Blut 

Bis m dem Tod dJFehde." 

Ernst Moritz Arndt was also the author of 
"What is the German Fatherland?" ("Was ist 
des Deutschen Vaterland"). He was a culti 
vated writer and a professor at the universities. 


He was born in 1769, in the Isle of Riigen, and 
died in 1860. But it was not till ten years later 
that the prophesy of his song was fulfilled : 

"Where'er men speak in German tongue, 
Where German songs to God are sung, 
That only be thy boundary line 
That, valiant German, call it thine. 
The whole of Germany shall it be ! 
0, God of Heav'n, look down and see, 
And German courage to us send, 
To love and guard it to the end ' ' 

The unfortunate Korner, author of the 
" Schwertlied," who wrote several plays of con 
siderable merit, also published a great many 
songs under the title, " Leyer und Schwert" 
("Lyre and Sword"). Karl Theodor Korner 
was the son of veiy respectable parents, of 
Saxony. He was born in 1791, and had as a 
lad the happiness to be acquainted with the 
great Schiller. Although somewhat delicate, 
he was a handsome and accomplished youth, 
and gave promise of immense intellectual 
strength. He studied with success at the 
universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Vienna, and 
at the age of twenty appeared as poet with a 
tragedy that had a large measure of popularity. 
He had known Schiller and Goethe, and now 
became intimate with Humboldt and Schegel. 


Just at the time that Prussia's call to arms 
resounded through the length and breadth of 
the land, he fell in love with a beautiful maiden, 
and they were duly betrothed. But his country- 
called upon him to fight, and so he joined the 
corps of volunteers known as " The Black 
Huntsmen." The following is extracted from 
a letter to his father : " Now that I know what 
happiness may be realized in this life, and when 
all the stars of my destiny look down on me 
with such genial rays, now does a righteous 
inspiration tell me that no sacrifice can be too 
great for that highest of all human blessings, 
the vindication of a nation's freedom." 

His prowess and daring soon caused him to 
be made a lieutenant, and during the intervals 
of rest he wrote many a lyric round the bivouac 
fires, and in particular the fine " War Song," 
" The Summons to Arms," and the magnificent 
" Prayer before Battle." 

He composed his famous "Sword Song," 
" Du Schwert an meiner Linken," when lying 
in ambush waiting for the foe during the month 
of August, 1813. Two hours later he was shot 
dead, some authorities say, by a renegade coun 
tryman in a skirmish near Wobbelin, in Meck 
lenburg, while others say by the French sol 
diery, who surprised and surrounded them. 


The lyric was found in his pocket-book. He 
was buried by the roadside near an oak tree, 
and a monument marks the resting-place of 
this brave patriot, who was only twenty-two 
when he was killed. I give the first verse of 
the " Sword Song" in the original, and some 
extracts from a most spirited translation by 
Miss Elizabeth Craigmyle the very best that 
has ever been done, though there are numbers 
extant : 

" Du Schwert an memer Linken, 
Was soil dem heitres Blinken? 
Bin freien Mannes Wehr, 
Das freut dem Schwerte sehr." 

" Sword at my left side gleaming, 
Why are thy glances beaming 
Upon me, shyly-sweet, 
With joy thine eyes I greet ! 

" My heart for joy is leaping, 
Within a brave knight' s keeping ; 
How should my glance be staid ? 
I am a free man's blade ! 
* * * * * 

" Now leave that sheath, unsightly, 
Thou joy to all the knightly , 
Flash out, my sword, flash free ' 
I lead thee forth with me " 

There are sixteen verses, all of surprising power 

and stirring rhythm. The music, which was 



composed by Weber, has added greatly to the 
celebrity of the passionate stanzas. 

Many other national songs were written later, 
such as " Deutschland iiber Alles," by Hoffmann 
von Fallersleben. The chief modern patriotic 
song is, of course, " Die Wacht am Rhein ;" 
the hymn " Heil Dir im Siegeskranz," by the 
way, is sung to the same tune as " God Save 
the Queen." (The histories of both of these 
songs will be found in later chapters of this 
work.) The Rhine comes in for a good share 
of notice in patriotic poems. The well-known 
song of Nicolaus Becker, written about the 
year 1840, and entitled "Sie sollen ihn nicht 
haben, den freien Deutschen Rhein" (" They 
the French shall not have it, the free German 
Rhine"), was answered by the satirical poem of 
Alfred de Musset, " Nous 1'avons eu, votre Rhin 
allemand" (" We have had it already, your Ger 
man Rhine!"). 

In Prussia the favourite patriotic song in the 
fifties and sixties was " Ich bin em Preusse, 
Kennt ihr meine Farben?" (" I am a Prussian, 
do you know my colours?"). It is now some 
what out of date, but the melody, by A. Neit- 
hardt, which is stirring, is frequently adapted to 
other songs. The patriotic songs of the present 
day are mostly tame and commonplace ; there 


is a sameness about the expressions that make 
them exceedingly feeble and unexciting. In 
Germany, as in all countries, stirring songs 
are only written at stirring times. The song 
"Schleswig-Holstein, Meerumschlungen" is still 
remembered in North Germany ; it dates from 
the period when the provinces Schleswig and 
Holstein were struggling with Denmark for 
their independence. This capital piece was 
written in 1844 by Chemnitz. " Patriotic" 
songs were common under Frederick the Great, 
but they were mainly mere glorifications of the 
famous commander, and with the exception per 
haps of " Fredericus Rex/' I have not come 
across any of particular merit. 

National ideas were chiefly carried on after 
the fall of the French First Empire by the 
gymnastic associations (Turnvereine?), which 
were very numerous just after 1816. In Ger 
many, it is we.ll to bear in mind, gymnastics 
have always been, more or less, mixed up with 
politics a questionable blend which, happily, 
is now going out, and only lingers from force 
of tradition. 

In the turbulent times of 1848 and 1849 " Die 
Fahne Schwarz-roth-gold" was very much the 
vogue. The principal popular song writers of 
this century (they are all dead) are Schenken- 



dorf, Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Riickert (read 
his " How Christ came to a Lonely Child"), 
Heine, Geibel, Scheffel, and Freiligrath ("Hurra, 
Germania" and " Were I before the Gates of 
Mecca"), besides of course the great masters, 
known to all the world. 

It is not my intention to treat of the songs 
founded on the Rhine legends they are too 
many, and many of these beautiful pieces are 
familiar, as, for instance, Heine's lovely lyric, 
" Die Loreley." Freiligrath and Scheffel are 
favourites with all English lovers of the ballad ; 
the latter and Chamisso have produced some 
exquisite humorous and pathetic poems. " The 
Widow's Son" and "The Toy of the Giant's 
Child" are splendid specimens of Chamisso's 
talent. Ruckerf's " Barbarossa" (the old legand 
of the Emperor Frederick Red Beard, whom 
the popular imagination of the Middle Ages 
pictured as confined underground with his beard 
growing through the stone table at which he 
was sitting !) is still a leading favourite in student 
circles. The touching ballad, " Andreas Hofer," 
is much sung in South Germany and the Tyrol. 
Andreas Hofer is the name of the heroic inn 
keeper who was shot as a rebel in 1810. 

Humorous, agreeable songs mostly of a bac 
chanalian character are as plentiful as black- 
8 113 


berries in September, and need no further men 
tion. And of course Germany at the present 
time is very rich in. lyric writers of varying 
ability. They do not make song-writing a mere 
trade as is the habit with so many of our own 
drawing-room bards. 

And now let us inquire into the story of the 
" Watch on the Rhine." This was written by 
Max Schneckenburger in 1840, and, as is not 
uncommon in the history of literature, it has 
superseded much better poems on the subject. 
It was selected from a great number to be the 
war song of 1870, when it immediately " caught 
on" and took the place of Korner's " Schwert- 
lied." Schneckenburger was a quiet and per 
fectly obscure Swabian merchant who, as far as 
I have been able to discover, was never moved 
to write, or at any rate publish, any more than 
this one song, and did not live to enjoy the 
fame that was thrust upon it during the Franco- 
Prussian war of 1870. "The Watch on the 
Rhine" had a rival in a piece that commenced : 

" It never shall be France's, 

The free, the German Rhine, 
Until its broad expanse is 
Its last defender's shrine." 

But the martial " Watch" became the universal 

favourite when the aged King of Prussia rode 



forth to meet and vanquish the foe, and with 
the defeat of France the dream of Bismarck's 
life was realized, for, having quarrelled with 
and conquered and annexed Schleswig-Holstein, 
Prussia assumed the head of a United Germany 
the best thing, as events have proved, that 
could have happened to the Fatherland. 

" Es braust em Ruf wie Donnerhall, 
Wie SchwertgeHirr und Wogenprall : 
Zum Rhein, zum Rhein, zum Deutschen Rhein, 
Wer will des Stromes Huter sein ? 
Lieb Vaterland, magst ruing sein, 
Fest steht und treu die Wacht am Rhein." 

The music was composed first as a chorus for 
male voices by Carl Wilhelm, music teacher 
and conductor, who was born at Schmalkalden 
and died some eight or nine years ago, says 
Fanny Raymond Ritter. But there is another 
account given of the composition of this great 
national song by Carl Hauser, which is very 
curious. The song, says this writer, composed 
by Carl Wilhelm, was not originally intended 
for a national hymn. Carl Wilhelm was a 
thorough Bohemian, and wrote some of his best 
compositions on lager beer tables amid fumes 
of tobacco smoke. He had a great difficulty in 
selling his compositions, even cheap, and when 


he struck a bargain it was generally employed 
in settling his beer score. On one occasion a 
friend of Wilhelm, a schoolmaster, asked him 
as a favour to compose a chorus for his pupils, 
which they would sing on prize-distribution day. 
Wilhelm acceded. The promise was kept, and 
the school teacher wrote words appropriate for 
the event. Later he unscrupulously sold the 
manuscript so generously composed for a special 
object, and thus the " Wacht am Rhein" was 
brought to light with what success everybody 
knows. Thousands of copies were sold all over 
the world, but poor Wilhelm derived no benefit 
therefrom. Neither of these stories is quite 
correct ; the music was composed by Carl Wil 
helm in 1854. It was first sung with united 
choruses at Crefeld, June nth, 1854. Wilhelm 
was born at Schmalkalden, September 5th, 1815. 
He was appointed director of the Liedertafel at 
Crefeld in 1840, and held the post until 1865. 
In 1871 he was granted an annual pension of 
one hundred and fifty pounds, and died at his 
native place in 1873. 

There are numberless English versions of 
the " Watch on the Rhine," for it was excep 
tionally popular in England during the seven 
ties. One by C. H. P. (published by Cramer 
and Co.) is worthy of mention, as also is another 


by Herbert Fry, but I am inclined to consider 
the translation by Lady Natalie MacFarren as 
being superior to any that has appeared, though 
not faultless, and consequently I give it m 
extenso from Chappell's edition : 

" Like gathering thunder spreads a cry, 
Like clash of arms when battle's nigh, 
The Rhine ' there's danger to the Rhine ! 
Who'll shield it from the foe's design? 
Dear Fatherland, no fear be thine, 
Steadfast and true, we guaid our German Rhine. 

" The tidings flash through million hearts, 
From million flaming eyes it darts ; 
Our valiant sons, in danger strong, 
Will guard our hallow' d stream from wrong ! 

"What though the foe my life should quench, 
I know thy wave will ne' er be French ; 
And ample as thy tide of blue, 
The living stream of heroes true. 

" The shades of heroes past and gone. 
Upon our deeds are looking down ; 
By home and Fatherland we swear 
The foeman from thy banks to scare. 

" While through my veins the life is poured, 
As long as I can hold a sword, 
No stranger shall our land despoil, 
No foeman desecrate our soil. 


" Proclaim tie vow from shore to shore, 
Let banners wave and cannons roar, 
The Rhine ! the lovely German Rhine, 
To keep it Germans all combine. 

Dear Fatherland, all fear resign, 

Stout hearts and true will keep watch on the Rhine." 

Max Schneckenburger, the author, died in 
Berne in 1849. His remains were piously 
brought back to his native place, Thalheim in 
Wurtemberg, where a handsome monument has 
been raised to honour the name and fame of the 

The most popular song of the German sol 
diers during the war of 1870-71 was the so- 
called " Kutschke Lied." In the " Neue Preus- 
sische Zeitung" of August I4th, 1870, there 
was a paragraph, probably by Hesekiel, stating : 
" Among the many songs of this war, decidedly 
the best of the hero songs is that composed by 
Fusilier Kutschke of the Fortieth Regiment at 
the advanced posts at Saarbriick. As he saw 
the French running away at the edge of the 
wood he sang : 

*' ' Was Kraucht da in dem Busch heruin ? 
Ich glaube es ist Napohum. ' 

"Both text and words are simple and 
thoroughly soldierly. ' Hurrah for Kutschke ! ' " 


Chariot's " Chanson des Allemands centre la 
France pendant la guerre d'invasion 1870-1871" 
attributes the composition to a Prussian general, 
probably the Crown Prince. It was evident, 
indeed, that the song was the work of a man 
of education, who was attempting- to write in a 
popular style. The real author was one of the 
most unpopular men of his day, a declared 
Lichtfeind, afterward a Lutheran minister at 
Basedow, in Mecklenburg, who had been a 
soldier in his youth. The song is a develop 
ment of some verses written about the first 
Napoleon : 

' ' Was hat der nun za Kraachen dort ? 
Drauf, Kameraden, jagt ihn fort," 

and originally consisted of four stanzas that 
were printed in the " Mecklenburgische An- 
zeiger" for the first time. At once various 
guesses as to the author were made, while 
presents of all kinds, from all parts, were sent 
to the army in the field " For the brave fusilier 
Kutschke." But Pistorius had a rival claimant. 
A Rhineland poet arose and said that he had 
written a song exactly the same in a Rhenish 
railroad car, where he had left it lying, and that 
in all probability Pistorius had picked it up. 
Pistorius was most likely never on a Rhenish 


railroad in his life, and the Rhenish poet finally 
abandoned his claim. The only present ac 
cepted by Pistorius was one sent from Chicago 
" Fiir Kutschke." 

The other Kutschke Lieder, eight in number, 
such as " Ne ganze Erbswursch wett' ich drauf," 
were written by Gustav Schenk, editor of the 
" Berliner Fremdenblatt." Pistorius died in 

The whole song, however, is inspired by the 
old song of the War of the Liberation that 
begins : 

" Immer langsam voran, immer langsam voran, 
Dass die ostreich'sche Landwehr nachkommen kann ! 

" WIT Oestreicher sein goar prave Leit', 
Wir marschiren des Tags m holbe Meile weit. 

" Das Marschiren nimmt halt goar kan End'. 
Weil l^ener ^ler Uffziere die Landkoarten kennt ;' ' 

in which occur the lines : 

" Bie Leipzig woar anne grusze Schlacht, 
Do hoan barr zahn Tute zu Gesangenen gemacht 

"Woas schleicht ock durt im Puscherum? 
Doas is gewiets Napolium. 

" Reiszt aus, reiszt aus, reiszt olle, olle aus ! 
Durt stht a feindliches Schilderhaus !" 

Whereupon let us ask, "Is there anything 
new in the world ?" 





UP to the present America, apart from the fact 
that she has not produced any great composer 
or even song writer of note, has not succeeded 
in inventing any national anthem worthy of her 
eminence and power. Minor songs of a more 
or less negro blend have been turned out in 
thousands, and have grown into favour with the 
general public of most nations. But as yet 
only the " Star-Spangled Banner," " Columbia, 
the Gem of the Ocean," " Hail, Columbia," and 
" America" have appeared as national produc 
tions, neither of which is in any way admirable. 
The eccentric "Yankee Doodle," of which I 
shall speak in detail later, seems to be more 
universal than any of the purely American 
pieces, and that is not American at all. In a 
national air worthy of the grandeur of a great 
nation, simplicity and strength should be domi 
nant features, but neither of the pieces I have 
mentioned exhibits these qualities, in fact they 


are wofully commonplace ; the grand American 
hymn has yet to be written, and fame and for 
tune await poet and musician alike who shall 
step into the breach to sing their country's 
glories. Up to the year 1 8 1 2, " Yankee Doodle," 
with its ridiculous refrain : 

" Yankee doodle, keep it up, 

Yankee doodle dandy ; 
Mind the music and the step, 
And with the girls be handy." 

was the only national song our cousins had. 

The " Star-Spangled Banner" would appear to 
have been more or less of an inspiration. One 
account says that in the war of 1812 Francis 
Key was taken prisoner by the British, and that 
during the attack on Fort McHenry, which he 
was compelled to witness, he composed the now 
famous verses. But it is also said that at the 
time they were written, Key was not held as a 
prisoner on board the British Fleet under 
Admiral Cockburn, as has been generally sup 
posed ; but that he had visited it under a flag 
of truce to obtain the release of a friend cap 
tured by the enemy, and was unable to return 
to Baltimore until the day following the attack 
upon Fort McHenry. He thus became a spec 
tator of the midnight siege, and in the morn- 



ing, seeing the flag still floating from the ram 
parts, the words of the " Star-Spangled Banner" 
took form almost involuntarily in his mind. He 
speedily committed the lines to paper, and read 
them on his return to a party of his comrades 
who received them with unbounded enthusiasm. 
The circumstances, says Mr. Charles F. Adams, 
attending their first reading and of their being 
set to music, are narrated by Mr. Hendon, who 
was one of the party, as follows : 

" It was a rude copy and written in a scrawl 
that Horace Greeley might have mistaken for 
his own. He (Francis Key) read it aloud once, 
twice, three times, until the entire division 
seemed electrified by its pathetic eloquence. 
An idea seized Ferdinand Durang. Hunting 
up a volume of old flute music, which was in 
my tent, impatiently whistled snatches of tune 
after tune as they caught his eye. One, called 
'Anacreon in Heaven' struck his fancy and 
riveted his attention. Note after note fell from 
his puckered lips, until with a leap and a shout 
he exclaimed, ' Boys, I've hit it !' and fitting the 
tune to the words, there rang out for the first 
time the song of the ' Star-Spangled Banner/ 
How the men shouted and clapped ! for never 
was there poetry set to music made under such 
inspiring influences ? It was caught up in the 


camps, sung around our bivouac fires, and 
whistled in the streets, and when peace was 
declared and we scattered to our houses, it was 
carried to thousands of firesides as the most 
precious relic of the war of 1812." 

Here are the verses of the "Star-spangled 
Banner" as written by Francis Scott Key, who 
was born in 1780 and died 1843. 

" Oh ' say, can you see by the dawn's early light, 

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous 


0' er the ramparts we watch' d, were so gallantly streaming ? 
And the rocket' s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, 
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. 
Oh ! say, does the Star-spangled Banner yet wave, 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

" On the shoie, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, 
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, 
What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep, 

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses ? 
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, 
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream, 
'Tis the Star-spangled Banner 1 Oh ! long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave 1 

' ' Oh ! thus be it ever, when foemen shall stand 

Between their loved home and foul war 3 s desolation ; 
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the Heav'n-rescued land 
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation ! 


Then conquer we must, when our cause is so just, 
And this be our motto ' In God is our trust !' 
And the Star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave 
O' er the land of the free and the home of the brave !' ' 

The song was first sung in a tavern near 
the Holiday Street Theatre, Baltimore, by Fer 
dinand Durang. The tune, "Anacreon in 
Heaven," was composed by John Stafford Smith 
betweeen 1770 and 1775 to words by Ralph 
Tomlinson president of the Anacreontic So 
ciety, which held its meetings at the Crown and 
Anchor Tavern, Strand, London. 

There is no romance whatever attached to 
the origin of " Hail, Columbia," the words of 
which are very tame and little better than 
doggerel. We know of no other lyric by 
Francis Key than the one quoted above, and we 
know of no other than the " Hail, Columbia" 
of Judge Joseph Hopkinson. The judge wrote 
this song in 1798 to oblige an actor named Fox, 
who sang it with great success at one of the 
theatres in Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania. The 
music was taken from a piece called "The 
President's March," which had seen the light 
ten years previously. It was composed by a 
German named Fyles on some special visit of 
Washington's to the John Street Theatre, New 


York. I present the first verse and chords 15 
specimens of the whole. 

" Hail, Columbia, happy land ! 
Hail ye heroes ! heavea-born band, 
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause 
Who fought and bled in freedom's cause ! 
And when the storm of war had gone, 
Enjoy 3 d the peace your valour won ; 
Let independence be your boast, 
Ever mindful what it cost ! 
Ever grateful for the pnze, 
Let its altar reach the skies. 

"Firm, united, let us be, 
Rallying round our liberty ; 
As a band of brothers joined, 
Peace and safety we shall find." 

It would be interesting to know how a man 
could "rally" round his liberty. The author 
died in 1842. - 

"Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" was 
written by Timothy Dwight, ancestor of the 
famous president of Yale College. Dwight was 
a law student, but as there was a dearth of 
chaplains in the revolutionary army he joined 
Parson's Brigade of the Connecticut Line as a 
chaplain, and it was during the time that he 
held office that he wrote this lyric, the only one 
of his many poems and songs that has endured 
to the present day. It was very popular at one 


period. After leaving the army, Dwight be 
came president of the Yale College, a position 
he held till his death, which occurred in 

A very hastily composed song was " America," 
written by the Rev. Samuel Francis Smith (born 
1808) in 1832 at Andover Seminary, Mass. 
Though very unpretentious, it has secured a 
permanent place in the hearts of the people. 
The words were written to " God Save the 
Queen," the tune to which the lyric is still sung. 

During the great Civil War many stirring lays 
issued forth, though the majority are quite 
forgotten now. An exception is "Marching 
through Georgia," with its almost irresistible 
melody. It was written by Henry C. Work, 
who wrote quite a number of patriotic and 
homely songs that were at one time exceed 
ingly popular. Dr. George F. Root also was 
responsible for a vast quantity of military songs, 
his " Battle Cry of Freedom" was not the least 
striking of the northern melodies. " From the 
year 1861 till the close of the war, it was heard 
everywhere ; and it is a matter of history that 
the Union cause was aided in many a critical 
juncture by its stirring strains. Dr. Root is 
doubtless entitled to the position of America's 
foremost writer of war songs. His composi- 


tions in all number nearly sixty, among them 
being 'Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are 
Marching/ 'Just before the Battle, Mother/ 
' The Vacant Chair/ and many others that will 
be recalled by all veteran soldiers." Dr. Root 
was born in 1820 and died in 1896. 

In the course of a sympathetic article in the 
"Chicago Tribune" at the end of 1887 the 
writer speaks feelingly of the songs of two and 
three decades ago. How many of the popular 
songs, he inquires, can the old folk of the day 
recall ? How many of the melodies that thrilled 
them in the days of their hot youth have found 
an abiding place in their memory ? The evolu 
tion of the popular song presents a striking 
illustration of the survival of the unfittest. The 
great sentimental ditty of the ante-war period 
was undoubtedly "Ben Bolt." The untimely 
death of something lovable and beautiful was 
the usual theme of the song of sentiment in 
those days, though it varied occasionally in 
order to picture the heart havoc caused by the 
separation of slave lovers. "Ben Bolt," written 
by Dr. Thomas Dunn English, was an enormous 
success all over the country, and was as well 
known in England as America. It received a 
new lease through Du Maurier's " Trilby" in 
1895. The music was adapted to the poem by 

a tenor named Nelson Kneas from a German 

melody fifty years ago. 

" Don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt, 

Sweet Alice, whose hair was so brown ; 
Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile, 
And trembled with fear at your frown ?' ' 

Other songs, sung by minstrel and other 
troupes, that swept through the country like 
a cyclone, were " Darling Nelly Gray" and " O 
Susanna," both depicting the suffering of slave 

" Oh ! my poor Nellie Gray, 

They have taken you away, 
And I'll never see my darling any more," 

was heard on every side and voiced by all sorts 
of singers. " O Susanna" was more in the 
comic vein, and the request, " Don't you cry 
for me" was based on the consoling fact that 
"I've come from Alabama with my banjo on 
my knee." " Uncle Ned," that curious - old 
nigger we all knew in our youth, was of earlier 
growth, and may still be met with in old- 
fashioned places occasionally. Dan Emmett's 
" Dixie" and Harrington's " Swanee River" 
(which has been revived again quite recently in 
London) have proved the most prominent and 
9 129 


lasting of the ante-war melodies. Stephen Colin 
Foster, who so happily caught the negro musical 
methods and eccentricities., was one of the most 
popular song writers that America has ever had. 
He was born of Irish parents near Pittsburg } 
Pennsylvania, on July 4th, 1826, and died in 
New York, January i^th, 1864. Rewrote the 
words and music of such old-time favourites as 
" The old Folks at Home," " Willie, we have 
missed you," which resembles " Jock o' Hazle- 
dean," " O Susanna,"' " Come where my love 
lies dreaming," "My old Kentucky Home," 
" Massa's in the cold, cold Ground," " Uncle 
Ned," " Old Dog Tray," " Poor old Joe," and 
many more. 

As regards the composition of the favourite 
Confederate air, " Dixie," many conflicting ac 
counts have been given, but it seems quite 
certain that it was not as has been supposed I 
am quoting from Mr. Adams again of southern 
origin. The song was written and composed 
in New York in 1859 by Daniel Ernmet, at that 
time a principal member of Bryant's Minstrels, 
as a " grand walk round" for their entertain 
ment. The familiar expression upon which the 
song was founded was not a southern phrase, 
but first appeared among the circus people of 
the North. Emmet travelled with many of 


these companies, when "the South" was con 
sidered by showmen to be all routes below 
Mason and Dixon's line. As the cold weather 
approached, the performers would think of the 
genial warmth of the section they were headed 
for, and the exclamation would be, " Well, I 
wish I was in Dixie!" The remembrance of 
this gave Emmet the catch line, and the re 
mainder of the song is claimed to be original. 
It was continually used during the struggle be 
tween North and South, and the rest of the 
world wondered as half a great nation took 
up arms to the sound of "John Brown's soul 
is marching on," while the other half an 
swered by defiantly playing the comic " Dixie's 

A sentimental ballad, says the " Tribune," 
called " Lorena," was an immense favourite in 
the sixties, and for thirty years previous to the 
appearance and philosophy of " Old Rosin the 
Bow" became known to every one. A state of 
warfare has always proved conducive to song. 
The flourishing condition of minstrelsy m ages 
past was due largely to the warlike and adven 
turous spirit of the times. During the civil war 
both sides were prolific in song-making. The 
South made the first striking hit with Randall's 
" Maryland, my Maryland." The " Bonnie 


Blue Flag" was the Southern national air, and 
was to the boys in gray what "Yankee Doodle" 
was to the boys in blue. The Southern women 
took it up with marvellous enthusiasm, and 
the chorus rang wildly through every city and 

"The Bonnie Blue Flag" was written in 
1862 by Mrs. Annie Chambers-Ketchum to an 
Irish melody adapted or composed by Henry 
McCarthy. The authoress of the words is still 

Among the other living lyrics of the war, 
sentimental and otherwise, were Charles Carroll 
Sawyer's "Who will care for Mother now?" 
and "When this cruel War is over." Then 
came "Fairy Bell," "Annie of the Dell," "Toll 
the Bell for lovely Nell," "Wait for the 
Waggon," "Lily Dale," "Old Cabin Home," 
"Fair, fair, with golden Hair," and "Daisy 
Dean," by various writers. To these may be 
added F. H. Smith's " Tenting to-night on the 
old Camp Ground," S. J. Adams's "We are 
coming, Father Abraham, Three Hundred 
Thousand More," and the rollicking " When 
Johnny comes marching home again," said to 
have been composed by the 'celebrated Patrick 
S. Gilmore. Does anybody remember this 
curious production ? 



" When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah ! hurrah ! 
We'll give him a hearty welcome then, hurrah ! hurrah 1 
The girls will sing, the boys will shout, 
The ladies they will all turn out, 
And we' 11 all feel quite gay, 
When Johnny comes marching home !" 

The military and volunteer bands used to play 
it, but we have not heard the old air for years 
now. One of the great war songs of the North 
was " John Brown's soul is marching on," and 
not the " Star-Spangled Banner." A truly beau 
tiful song, popular with North and South during 
the war, was " Rock me to Sleep, Mother," 
written by an Irish-American, D. K. O'Donnel, 
and composed by Florence Percy. This, of 
course, is well-known in England also. The 
South produced two war-songs that evince gen 
uine poetic feeling, and have been accorded un 
stinted praise by the critics. They are " The 
Conquered Banner," by Father Ryan, and " All 
quiet along Potomac to-night," by Lamar Foun- 
taine. That most pathetic poem, was it not 
written by a Miss (or Mrs.) Rose Carey? 
" Somebody's Darling," was produced about 
this period, and touched many a parent's 

It is not always easy to fathom the reason 
of the popularity of any particular song. 


Often the most absurd mixture of bathos 
and sense will fascinate the public, while 
a really genuine effusion falls flat. It is cer 
tain that after the internecine war the quality 
of the songs fell off considerably, though the 
quantity increased, and we must confess that 
some of the very worst specimens of English 
music-hall songs, introduced by various bur 
lesque and variety troupes, assisted in the 
downfall of taste and sentiment. However, 
the Americans are too independent not to be 
able to retrieve their lost position in the song 
world, and many clever poets and composers 
are working to-day towards that devoutly to be 
wished consummation. 

And now let us turn our attention to that 
peculiar production, " Yankee Doodle." With 
all due reservation I first give what is sup 
posed to be the origin of the word " Yankee." 
" Yankee" is stated to be an Indian corruption 
of the word English, Yenglees, Yangles, Yan- 
klees, and finally Yankee. It grew into general 
use as a term of reproach thus : About the 
year 1713 one Jonathan Hastings, a farmer at 
Cambridge, in New England, used the word 
Yankee as a cant word to express excellence, as 
a Yankee (good) horse, Yankee cider, and so on. 
The students at the college having frequent 


intercourse with Jonathan, and hearing him 
employ the word on all occasions when he 
desired to express his approbation, applied it 
sarcastically, and called him Yankee Jonathan. 
It soon became a slang phrase among the col 
legians to designate a simple, awkward person ; 
thence it spread over the country till from its 
currency in New England it was at length 
taken up and applied to the New Englanders 
indiscriminately. It was in consequence of 
this, says a recent writer, that the song called 
" Yankee Doodle" was composed. As this last 
statement is erroneous, it will be just as well to 
take the rest of the story with a pinch of 

From Sir George Grove's " Dictionary of 
Music and Musicians" I extract the following : 
"The origin of the American national air is 
enveloped in almost as great obscurity as that 
which surmounts the authorship of ' God Save 
the King.' Though the song is but little more 
than a century old, the number of different ac 
counts of its origin which are given in American 
works is extremely bewildering." Precisely, 
each " authority" seems to have lighted upon a 
first legend concerning it. One writer says, 
" The time-honoured tune of ' Yankee Doodle/ 
which was our only national anthem in con- 


tinental days, has been traced as far back as 
Oliver Cromwell's time, when, in words similar 
to our own it was sung in derision of the Great 
Protector (or Usurper, whichever you like). 
The air was handed down to the Puritans, and 
finally became a New England jig. In the 
natural order of things, it was fitted with appro 
priate words by some revolutionary rhymester, 
and served such an excellent purpose in satir 
izing the British troops, that it was adopted 
throughout the colonies as the patriotic song 
of the Sons of Liberty. At the present day, 
no American Fourth of July, or other festive 
occasion, is considered complete without its 
rendition, and its perennial music bids fair to 
last as long as the Republic itself." 

I refrain from enlarging upon the irony of 
Paul's stealing the thunder to play upon Peter. 
There is much that seems probable in the above 
account, and it has received the support of most 
American papers during the last fifty years. 
There was an ancient rhyme that ran, 

" Yankee Doodle came to town, 

On a little pony, 
He stuck a feather in his cap, 
And called it Macaroni. ' r 

"Yankee Doodle" is said to have been a 


nickname for Cromwell, who was also called 
Macaroni ; it is also said that another ballad, 
" Roundheads and Cavaliers," was sung to the 
same melody. 

" This story" (about the royal party calling 
Cromwell Macaroni), says the " Dictionary 
of Music and Musicians," " is said to occur in 
the ' Musical Reporter' of May, 1841, but who 
ever invented it showed lack of antiquarian 
knowledge in fixing upon the period of the 
Civil Wars as the date of the song." The 
Macaroni Club, by the way, was in existence 
from 1750 to 1770, and this is believed to have 
been the first introduction of the word Macaroni 
into the common language. The Rev. T. 
Woodfal Ebsworth, " undoubtedly the greatest 
living authority on English ballads," conclu 
sively disproves the Cromwellian origin. Sev 
eral nursery rhymes are even now sung by 
children to the tune of Yankee Doodle, in 
cluding " Lucy Locket," and " Rosy's in the 
Garden." Various well-meaning folk have as 
serted its connection with certain pieces, and 
have gone so far as to attempt to trace it to 
such differing sources as Dutch, Spanish, and 
Hungarian music. But whoever invented the 
melody, whether it was carried to America, say 
by the Pilgrim Fathers, if antiquity is desired, 


or not, it is very evident that it was very popular 
so far back as 1730. Dr. Shuckburgh, it is true, 
has been credited with originating the air, but 
in all probability he only wrote the words, and 
as he was a surgeon in the army (1737) he no 
doubt suggested its adoption by the troops. 
There are so many versions of the "lyric" 
extant that it is almost impossible to fix the 
date of the birth of the first. But no matter 
what may be said for or against the song, 
beyond all question it belongs to America and 
the Americans by long possession. And as the 
Hon. Stephen Salisbury said, in an address 
delivered before the American Antiquarian 
Society, October 2 1st, 1872: /Yankee Doodle 
is national property, but it is not a treasure of 
the highest value. It has some antiquarian 
claims for which its friends do not care. It 
cannot be disowned, and it will not be disused. 
In its own words, 

" ' It suits for feasts, it suits for fun, 
And just as well for fighting.' 

It exists now as an instrumental and not as a 
vocal performance. Its words are never heard, 
and, I think, would not be acceptable in America 
for public or private entertainments. And its 
music must be silent when serious purposes are 


entertained and men's hearts are moved to high 
efforts and great sacrifices)' 

According to the " Cyclopedia of Music and 
Musicians" published by Messrs. Scribner in 
New York, the piece is "a national air of 
American origin unknown. The trivial words 
of the original song, in derision of the ill-assorted 
provincial troops, are said to have been written by 
Dr. Shuckburgh, who served as surgeon under 
General Amherst during the French and Indian 
war. Several versions of the song, the original 
of which was 'The Yankee's Return from 
Camp,' are extant. The tune, always called 
'Yankee Doodle/ from the chorus or refrain, 
has passed through various changes. The his 
torical associations connecting the air with the 
American Revolution, when it was universally 
played, have prevented criticism of the melody, 
which is simple and incisive, but shrill and 
shallow. It is almost certainly of English origin, 
though it has been ascribed to various countries 
and probably dates from the eighteenth cen 
tury." I can supplement this by adding that 
the tune of " Yankee Doodle" appears in Dr. 
Samuel Arnold's comic opera, " Two to One," 
written by George Colman the elder, which 
was produced " with universal applause" (as the 
title page tells) at the Theatre Royal in the 


Haymarket. The score of this opera was pub 
lished by Hamilton and Co., Paternoster Row, 
July 5th, 1784. The tune " Yankee Doodle" is 
so called in the score of the opera, showing 
that it was well known by that name before 
that time. In the opera it is sung by a char 
acter called Dicky Ditto, impersonated by Mr. 
John Edwin, a celebrated burletta actor and 
singer in his too brief day. The words of the 
song are the veriest trash imaginable, and tg& 
vulgar to be quoted and this was the work of 
the great George Colman, who, when he was 
appointed examiner of plays, expunged the 
mildest of oaths and expletives. 

Of the original words of " Yankee Doodle, or 
the Yankee's Return from Camp," it is impos 
sible to say one good thing. They are to be 
seen in the British Museum on a single sheet, 
quarto, printed about 1825 (?), and sold at the 
time by L. Denning, Hanover Street, Boston. 
The chorus I have previously given ; there are 
fifteen stanzas, and each succeeding one from 
the beginning grows more idiotic. The first 
verse is : 

" Father and I went down to Camp, 

Along with Captain Goodmg ; 
There we see the men and boys, 
As thick as hasty pudding." 

The second verse : 

" And there we see a thousand men, 

As rich as Squire David ; 
And what they wasted every day, 
I wish it could be saved !" 

Here is the eleventh verse : 

" And there was Captain Washington, 

And gentlefolks about him ; 
They say he' s grown so ' tarnal proud, 
He will not ride without 'em." 

But I think I have quoted sufficient to show 
the kind of senseless stuff it is and yet what 
a sensation the melody has made in the world ! 
Before taking leave of this eccentric composi 
tion I may add that, in the " Illustrated London 
News" for February i6th and March ist, 1856, it 
is authoritatively stated that "Yankee Doodle" 
was based upon " Kitty Fisher's Jig." This 
"Jig" is to be found in Walsh's collection of 
dances published in 1745, and is there asso 
ciated with the well-known nursery rhyme : 

" Lucky Locket lost her pocket, 

Kitty Fisher found it ; 
Not a penny was there in 't, 
Only binding round it." 

These two ladies flourished in the reign of 
the second George, and were well-known 


characters rival dancers, in all probability, 
says Mr. F. Rimbault. Another correspondent 
in the "News" says, "In my youth I was 
accustomed to hear a song of which Kitty 
Fisher and the famous Countess of Coventry, 
who were rival beauties in their respective lines, 
were the heroines." He proceeds to give ex 
tracts from the not very elegant song he refers 
to. Many particulars about these curious ladies 
and the manners and customs of the age in 
which they lived are to be found in " Mr. Gren- 
ville's Correspondence," edited by the Duke of 
Buckingham, published in 1855. 

Kitty Fisher's portrait was painted by Sir 
Joshua Reynolds in the suggestive character of 
" Cleopatra dissolving the Pearl" for the Lord 
Bovingdon of that day. " Kitty Fisher's Jig" 
is in all probability a misprint for "Fisher's 
Jig/' this last bearing a strong resemblance to 
the tune while the first does not. A " Yanky 
Doodle" was certainly published in Aird's 
"Selection of Scotch, English, and Irish Aiis," 
vol. i, 1782. "Fisher's Jig," besides being in 
Walsh's dances, reappears in Thomson and 
Sons' "Twenty-four Country Dances," 1760, 
and again in 1773. 

A meritorious version of the song was written 
by one, J. S. Fessenden, "Original Poems," 


1804 but there are forty-eight stanzas, so I 
refrain from quoting. Indeed, to go into the 
subject fully a volume would be required to be 

Though, as I have already stated, America 
has not sent any musical genius into the world 
yet, she has at least given birth to one composer 
and pianist of considerable merit. I refer to 
Louis Moreau Gottschalk, born at New Orleans, 
May 8th, 1829. His melodies were frequently 
brilliant, though inclined to sentimentalism and 
were almost invariably Spanish in tone and 
expression. He died at Rio de Janeiro, 
December i8th, 1869. 





UP to the present no one has ever questioned 
Lady Anne Barnard's claim to the authorship 
of the words of "Auld Robin Gray," and, 
though I am not going to cast doubt upon the 
fame of the writer at this late day, I shall shortly 
show that prior, not only to the appearance but 
to the writing of the world-famous song, there 
was a French ballad extant containing the gist 
of the story and the plot, by Paradis de Moncrif, 
entitled " Les Constantes Amours d'Alix et 
d' Alexis." But there is one very curious thing 
about Lady Anne Barnard, and that is that we 
have no record whatever of her ever having 
written any other song or composed anything 
else of literary merit whatever, with one slight 
exception, and yet she is said to have been in 
spired with the idea of " Auld Robin Gray" 
when " she was quite a girl," as a matter of 
fact, when she was twenty-one in the year 
1771. It seems to have been almost a preco- 


cious inspiration that surprised itself into silence. 
Before giving the history of Lady Anne's song 
I may mention that the author of the French 
romance mentioned above, and to which I shall 
refer fully later, died in 1770 at the age of 

From an article contributed by the Reverend 
A. B. Grosart, LL.D., to the " Dictionary of 
National Biography," I extract the following 
information: "Lady Anne Barnard, was the 
eldest daughter of James Lindsay, fifth Earl of 
Balcarres, by his wife Anne, daughter of Sir 
Robert Dalrymple, of Castleton. She was born 
December 8th, 1750, and married, in 1793, 
Andrew Barnard, son of Thomas, Bishop of 
Limerick. They went to the Cape (she and 
her husband) where her husband died in 1807, 
without issue. Lady Anne returned to London 
and lived with her sister in Berkeley Square 
until 1812. The sister's house was a literary 
centre, and was frequented by Burke, Sheridan, 
Windham, Douglas, and the Prince of Wales, 
who were all habitual visitors. Lady Anne won 
the life-long attachment of the Prince Regent. 
' Auld Robin Gray' was written by Lady Anne 
when she was twenty-one years old. It was 
published anonymously, and various persons 
claimed the authorship. Lady Anne did not 

10 145 


acknowledge it as her own until two years 
before her death when she wrote to Sir Walter 
Scott and confided the histoiy of the ballad to 
him. Lady Anne Barnard died May 6th, 1825, 
in her seventy-fourth year." 

Mr. JEneas Mackay, in a paper entitled " The 
Songs and Ballads of Fife" which appeared in 
" Blackwood" for September, 1891, says: "A 
song altogether of Fife origin and authorship 
marks the commencement of the period of 
modern ballads. It will be acknowledged that 
'Auld Robin Gray' has few superiors, either 
amongst its predecessors or successors, though 
to call it the ' King of Scottish Ballads,' as 
Chambers does, is to raise it to a dangerous 
eminence which it would not be prudent even 
for the most patriotic native of the ' Kingdom' 
to claim for it." And he then gives an extract 
from the letter Lady Anne Barnard wrote in 
1823 to Sir Walter Scott, who had referred in 
the "Pirate" to " Jeannie Gray," the village 
heroine in Lady Anne Lindsay's beautiful ballad. 
From Dr. Charles Mackay's "Thousand and 
One Gems of Songs" (1889) I quote as below: 

" This beautiful ballad, of which the author 
ship was long a mystery, was written by Lady 
Anne Lindsay. ... It appears to have been 
composed at the commencement of 1772, when 


the author was yet a young girl. It was pub 
lished anonymously and acquired great popu 
larity. No one, however, came forward to lay 
claim to the laurels lavished upon it; and a 
literary controversy sprang up to decide the 
authorship. Many conjectured that it was as 
old as the days of David Rizzio, if not composed 
by that unfortunate minstrel himself, while 
others considered it of a much later date. The 
real author was, however, suspected ; and, ulti 
mately, when her ladyship was an old woman, Sir 
Walter Scott received a letter from Lady Anne 
herself openly avowing that she had written it." 
Before giving Lady Anne's version, it would 
be interesting to know why she was suspected 
of being the author. The song was published 
in 1776 and also in 1790. Was she suspected 
of being the author before she went to the Cape 
after her marriage with Andrew Barnard in 
1793, or after her return to England in 1808? 
She died in 1825; the Rev. William Leeves, 
who composed the second and now familiar air 
(it is said in 1770, in " Grove's Dictionary of 
Music and Musicians") did not die until 1828. 
As he must have known who was the real 
author, it is a pity that we do not possess his 
corroboration as an historical fact. However, 
revenons a nos romance: Lady Anne stated 


that she had been long suspected by her more 
intimate friends, and often questioned with re 
spect to the mysterious ballad, but that she had 
always managed to keep her secret to her 
self without a direct and absolute denial. She 
was induced to write the song by a desire to see 
an old plaintive Scottish air ("The bridegroom 
grat when the sun gaed down"), which was a 
favourite with her sister, fitted with words more 
suitable to its character than the ribaldry which 
had hitherto, for want of better, been sung to 
it. She had previously been endeavouring to 
while the tedium occasioned by her sister's 
marriage and departure for London by the com 
position of verses ; but of all she had written, 
either before or since, none have reached the 
merit of this admirable little poem. It struck 
her that some tale of virtuous distress in humble 
life would be most suitable to the plaintive 
melody of her favourite air ; and she accordingly 
set about such an attempt, taking the name of 
" Auld Robin Gray" from an ancient herd of 
Balcarres. When she had written two or three 
of the verses, she called to her junior sister 
(afterwards Lady Hardwicke) who was the only 
person near her, and thus addressed her : " I 
have been writing a ballad, my dear; I have 
been oppressing my heroine with many mis- 


fortunes ; I have already sent her Jamie to sea 
and broken her father's arm, and made her 
mother fall sick, and given her Auld Robin 
Gray for her lover ; but I wish to load her with 
a fifth sorrow within the four lines poor thing ! 
Help me to one." " Steal the cow, sister Anne," 
said the little Elizabeth. " The cow," adds Lady 
Anne, " was immediately lifted by me, and the 
song completed. At our fireside among our 
neighbours, 'Auld Robin Gray' was always 
called for. I was pleased with the approbation 
it met with." 

This is so circumstantially related that there 
seems no doubt whatever about the origin of 
the lyric. 

The famous Miss Stephens, afterwards Count 
ess of Essex, is believed to have made the song 
popular to English ears. It may be noted that 
the melody of the first four lines differs from the 
rest, and it is strongly believed that the first part 
was borrowed from some old Scottish air and 
the rest set by the Rev. William Leeves. This, 
indeed, appears certain, and some authorities 
declared Leeves's music not to be Scottish at 
all. In any case it was severely criticised by 
John Hullah. In 1880 the song was published 
by Messrs. Novello and Co. as " words by Lady 
Anne Lindsay, set to music by Rev. William 


Leeves." The song was first printed anony 
mously in " Hood's Ancient and Modern Songs," 
second edition, 1776; also in "Johnson's 
Museum," 1790, both set to the old air only. 
A correspondent to " Notes and Queries" (6th 
Series, vol. v.) says that the words were very 
popular set to the old air before Miss Stephens 
sang it. According to Grove's " Dictionary of 
Music and Musicians," the Rev. William Leeves 
was born in 1748, and became in 1779 rector 
of Wrington, Somerset, the birthplace of John 
Locke, the philosopher. He composed some 
good sacred music, but will be chiefly remem 
bered as the composer of the music of " Auld 
Robin Gray," which he wrote in 1770, though 
it was not known as his till 1812. He died 
May 25th, 1828, at the age of eighty. There is 
a mistake here. He could not have written the 
music in 1770, as the words were not written till 
a year later. Since first writing the history of 
this song I was favoured, quite by chance, with 
the hereunder particulars relative to the Rev. 
William Leeves through a descendant of that 
composer. The Rev. William Leeves was at 
one time a lieutenant in the first Foot Guards. 
He entered His Majesty's service as ensign, 
June 2Oth, 1769, and received a lieutenant's 
commission February 3rd, 1772. He took 


orders in 1/79, and was appointed to the living 
of Wrington, in Somersetshire, where he resided 
as Rector for fifty years. The words of the 
song were sent him by Lady Anne through the 
Honourable Mrs. Byron when he was living 
at Richmond, and presumably whilst he was yet 
in the army. He was an excellent musician 
and a skilful player on the violin. When at 
Wrington, Hannah More, who lived in the 
village, was on the closest terms of intimacy 
with the Leeves. It was not until the year 
1812 that he made known to the public the fact 
that he was the composer of the popular air. 
He communicated the information in a letter to 
his very dear friend Thomas Hammersley, 
which is now in the possession of one of his 
granddaughters. I append a copy. 

" My dear Sir, Anxious as you have ever 
been for the rule of right, as well as for the fair 
fame of your friends, you have more than once 
solicited that I would publicly claim an offspring 
which for more than forty years has been of 
uncertain origin. Nothing could have induced 
me to undertake this at my period of life, but 
the offer of your kind testimony to the genuine 
ness of this, my early production, which an 
acquaintance with it in manuscript, long before 
it surreptitiously found its way to the public eye, 


enables you so convincingly to bear. As to the 
story, you may remember that I received it 
from the Honourable Mrs. Byron, and under 
stood it to have been written by Lady Anne 
Lindsay," etc. 

Mr. Leeves received no remuneration what 
ever for his music, and had to rest content with 
the approbation of his private friends ! 

It is recorded that when Mr. Leeves first 
heard Miss Stephens (afterwards Countess of 
Essex) sing "Auld Robin Gray," he was so 
much delighted with her expression and her 
melting tones that he shed tears. The song 
stress was most gratified on hearing of the effect 
of her singing, and wished to be introduced to 
the venerable author, which desire was readily 

. And now let us examine the old French 
romance by Paradis de Moncnf. Let me at 
once acknowledge that my first acquaintance 
with this poem dates from the early part of 
1889, when I came across some correspondence 
on the subject in the "St. James's Gazette." 
One gentlemen wrote to the effect that " one of 
the happiest instances of the kind of plagiarism 
which, like charity, blesses both giver and re 
ceiver, is to be found in the famous ballad of 
'Auld Robin Gray/ which, as some of your 


readers may be aware, is taken from the French. 
The poem of Paradis de Moncrif, which served 
as a model to Lady Anne Barnard, is entitled, 
'Les Constantes Amours d'Alix et d Alexis/ 
and though more than a century old, is still 
considered to be the finest example of what the 
French call a romance." I beg to disclaim here 
any extraordinary faith in the certainty with 
which this writer makes his interesting dis 
covery of similarity between the two pieces ; the 
fact is, I hardly know what to think. He pro 
ceeds : " It has the naivete and the prolixity so 
charming in its apparent triviality proper to that 
kind of composition ; and in comparing it with 
Lady Anne's poem, it is interesting to observe 
how in the passage of the tale northwards the 
romantic beauty of the original gives place to a 
tragic intensity in harmony with the severer- 
genius of the Scottish Muse." The author of 
this truly beautiful poem was born in 1687, was 
made a member of the French Academy in 
1733, and died in 1770 at the age of eighty- 
three, just a year before "Auld Robin Gray" 
was composed. In the French poem there are 
thirty-seven stanzas, which are too many to 
quote. In the first verse, by the way, the poem 
begins by asking the parents why they should 
have broken off the engagement between the 


young people, as they were so suited to each 
other. I give verses as under, commencing with 
the second : 

" A sa mere, <tant deja grande, 

La pauvre Alix, 
A deux genoux, un jour demande 

Son Alexis : 
Ma mere, il faut par complaisance 

Nous marier, 
Ma fille, je veux 1' alliance 

D'un conseiller. 

" Un jour . . . quelle malice d'ame 

La mere a dit : 
Alexis a pris une femme 

Sans contredit. 
Et puis, lui montrant une lettre, 

Ltd dit ; Voyez, 

II vous ecrit ; c' est pour permettre 
Qua 1'oubliez." 

In the second verse it will be seen that poor 
Alix falls on her knees and cries to her mother 
to let her have Alexis. But the mother repulses 
her, and says she intends that she shall be 
married to the councillor or judge. In the third 
verse the mother invents a story to the effect 
that Alexis has taken a wife and has written to 
tell her to foiget him. In the fourth verse the 
judge arrived with the notary, and against her 


will Alix is married, and all the time the others 
are making merry her thoughts are far away 
with her lost lover. In the fifth verse, Alix is 
made to appear very faithful to her husband and 
his household, and because of his great love for 
her tries to love him in return. But in the next 
verse Alix, grown sad, her husband tries to 
please her with rich jewels and love-knots. In 
verse seven : 

" Baise-moi, montonne chdrie, 

Je vais au plaid ; 
Tiens, prende de cette orferverie 

Ce qui te plait. 
L' argent n'est que pour qu'on se donne 

Quelque bon temps ; 
N' epargne rien ; voila, mignonne, 

Vingt dcus blancs." 

The husband takes an affectionate leave of her, 
as he has to go to the " plea" (the law court, he 
being a judge,) and gives her more jewellery and 
money that she may want for nothing. The 
twelve stanzas that follow describe the return of 
Alexis, who had been faithful to her, their inter 
view and recognition. Then follow these two 
verses : 

" Alix, mon Alix, mon tant aime, 

Helas ! c' est moi ! 
Alix, Alix tant regrette 
Ramme-toi ! 



Ton Alexis vient de Turquie 

Tout a 1' instant, 
Pour te voir et quitter la vie, 

En sanglotant. 

" Par ces tristes mots ramme'e 

Alix parla : 
Alexis, j'ai ma foi donnee ; 

Un autre 1' a. 
Ne dois vous ouir de ma vie 

Un seul instant : 
Mais ne mouiez pas, je vous prie ; 


In which, as the reader will see, Alexis tells 
Alix not to give way to despair, and that he 
has come in great haste from Turkey to see her 
(having heard of her marriage), and to die with 
a broken heart. Then Alix revives, but though 
she has given her faith (or troth) to another, 
begs him not to die, but to depart. Alexis in the 
next stanza promises this, but before going away 
from her for ever, he takes her hand. The hus 
band returns, and seeing them thus together, 
stabs them both to the heart. Alexis is dead, 
and Alix, dying, kisses his eyes, and says she 
dies innocent. Her husband in his jealousy has 
taken her life, but she dies without regret. And 
then the husband is seized with remorse, and at 
night-time the spirit of his wife visits him, and 
pointing to the wound in her breast " sobs to 


him in a long murmur" that he is her assassin. 
And so the end, except for a rather weak anti 
climax in the way of a moral. 

I have tried to give a general idea of the 
story in rough English, though there are some 
idiomatic phrases in the piece that are not 
quite clear. It is altogether an elegant and 
gracefully written poem, full of tender touches. 
As to its obvious resemblance to "Auld 
Robin Gray" I make no suggestion, but leave 
everyone to judge of the remarkable coinci 

" Auld Robin Gray" was a favourite song 
with the great Miss Anna Maria Tree, who 
sang it constantly, as did other less known 

Augustus J. C. Hare, in " The Story of Two 
Noble Lives," suggests that Lady Margaret 
Lindsay was the real victim in " Auld Robin 
Gray," as written by her sister. It is said, 
though, that she married "Jamie" after " Rob 
in's" Mr. Fordyce's death. I merely repeat 
this story. 

" Auld Robin Gray/' which Dr. Cobham 
Brewer says was written by the authoress to 
raise some money for the benefit of her nurse 
upon what authority I know not has been 
adapted to the stage by several writers, both 


French and English. There is M. Andre 
Theuriet's " Jean Marie," avowedly taken from 
the story of " Auld Robin Gray," which has 
been translated again into English by three or 
four different writers. One version, by George 
Roy, was given at the Imperial Theatre, Sep 
tember 22nd, 1883. And an operetta bearing 
the same title was produced at the Surrey 
Theatre in April, 1858, with music by the " late 
Alexander Lee" who died in 1851. Lee com 
posed the music as far back as 1838. The 
libretto was written by Edward Fitz-Ball, and 
the piece was intended for the English Opera at 
Drury Lane, but the continued illness of Mrs. 
Waylett, who was to have played Jenny, caused 
the operetta to be shelved for twenty years. 
Lee, by the way, married Mrs. Waylett, the 
celebrated actress. She died of a broken heart, 
it is said, soon after his death. There was a 
previous opera of the same name, written by 
S. J. Arnold, and composed by his father, Dr. 
Arnold, produced July' 26th, 1794, at the 
Theatre Royal, Haymarket. The report of the 
play in the " Thespian Magazine" for September, 
1794, says, " The piece is ascribed to the son of 
Dr. Arnold, and bids fair to become a favourite ; 
the music is selected with great judgment by 
the father of the author from the most approved 


Scotch tunes, and justice was done to it by the 
performers." The latest stage version of " Auld 
Robin Gray," entitled " The Wanderers," was 
successfully performed at Dundee, on Christmas 
Day, 1893. 





IT has been said, with more regard for epigram 
than fact, that this queen amongst Irish songs 
was born out of its own country, of English 
parents. But the truth is that though the com 
poser, F. N. Crouch, was an Englishman he 
might have been Irish if he had chosen, for 
there are many of that name in the Green Isle 
the writer of the words, Mrs. Julia Crawford, 
was a true daughter of Erin, having been born 
in County Cavan towards the close of the last 
century. By taking up her abode at a small 
town in Wiltshire when quite young, and where 
she resided for many years, her few biographers 
have been led into the error of supposing her to 
be English. Besides " Kathleen Mavourneen," 
she wrote over a hundred lyrics, mostly Irish in 
sentiment, and published, with F. N. Crouch as 
the composer of the music, a volume of " Irish 
Songs" in 1840. She wrote, says David J. 
O'Donoghue in his " Dictionary of the Poets of 


Ireland," a great deal of verse for the " Metro 
politan Magazine," edited by Captain Manyat 
(London, 1830-40) and also autobiographical 
sketches for the same publication. " Her " Kath 
leen Mavourneen" appeared therein. Unfortu 
nately no one thought it necessary to preserve 
any particulars of the life and works of this 
charming writer. She may possibly have been 
the Mrs. Crawford who published " Stanzas" 
about 1830, and the following novels between 
1830 and 1857: "Lismore," "The Story of a 
Nun," "Early Struggles," "The Double Mar 
riage," and " The Lady of the Bedchamber." 

Frederick Nicholls Crouch led a singularly 
hard life one full of vicissitudes and bad luck. 
When Crouch wrote his greatest song he was 
travelling for a firm of metal brokers in Cornhill. 
Afterwards he was appointed musical director 
at Drury Lane Theatre and brought out many 
a singer who has long since achieved name and 
fame. The words, as already stated, were 
written by Mrs. Crawford, a contemporary of 
Mrs. Hemans and Sheridan Knowles the Irish 
dramatist, whose verses were occasionally set by 
this once eminently fertile composer; among 
them the "Swiss Song of Meeting" and 
" Zephyrs of Love" which achieved immediate 
success through the inimitable singing of Marie 
ii 161 


Malibran and Anna Tree, to whom they were 
respectively dedicated. The melody of " Kath 
leen Mavourneen," according to Crouch, came 
as an inspiration one day when he was riding 
along the banks of the Tamar. Soon after 
wards he sang it at Plymouth for he was a 
capital ballad singer and for more than half a 
century it has continued to find a place in con 
cert programmes. The Queen of Song, Adelina 
Patti, often gives it to this day. But although 
the song is said to have brought in profits to the 
extent of fifteen thousand pounds it did not 
enrich the composer who only received a small 
sum down for it originally. So hard were the 
times with Crouch, and so unwind his country 
to him, that he who was a friend of the great 
Rossini when George the Fourth was king, had 
to emigrate to America in 1849 to earn a living. 
But matters did not seem to mend, and he was 
reported to be starving at Baltimore some few 
years ago when subscriptions were raised for his 
relief. Apparently the tide turned at last, for in 
the early autumn of 1892 a grand banquet, was 
given in honour of the anniversary of the 
veteran's birthday at Portland, in the State of 
Maine, when the grand old composer sang his 
own glorious song, he being then eighty-four 
years of age. 



Here again is the story of this famous song 
told in Crouch's own words : " The words in 
stantly attracted my attention by their purity of 
style and diction. I sought the authoress, and 
obtained her permission to set them to music. 
Leaving London as traveller to Chapman and 
Co , Cornhill, while prosecuting my journey to 
wards Saltash I jotted down the melody on the 
historic banks of the Tamar. On arriving at 
Plymouth, I wrote out a fair copy of the song, 
and sang it to Mrs. Rowe, the wife of a music 
publisher of that town. The melody so capti 
vated her and others who heard it that I was 
earnestly solicited that it should be given the 
first time in public at her husband's opening 
concert of the season. But certain reasons 
obliged me to decline the honour. I retired to 
rest at my hotel, and rising early next morning, 
and opening my window, what was my surprise 
to see on a hoarding right opposite a large 
placard on which was printed in the largest and 
boldest type : ' F. Nicholls Crouch, from Lon 
don, will sing at P. E. Rowe's concert, " Kath 
leen Mavourneen," for one night only !' Amazed 
and confused at such an unwarrantable and 
unauthorized announcement, I hurriedly com 
pleted my toilet, took my breakfast, and rushed 
off to Mr, Rowe's warehouse. But, despite my 


reluctance, and overcome by the entreaties of 
the fascinating Mrs. Rowe, I appeared and sang 
the song to a crowded audience, with the most 
enthusiastic applause. On returning to London 
I entered the establishment of Messrs. 'D'Al- 
maine, music publishers, as precentor, and 
'Kathleen Mavourneen' and other songs 
' Dermot Astore,' ' Their Marriage,' * Death of 
Dermot' were published by that firm. These 
songs have been sung and appropriated by all 
the leading cantatrices, from Caradori, Hobbs, 
Hawes, Hayes, Stephens (the Countess of Es 
sex), Malibran, Titiens, and Adelina Patti. The 
series of songs has been published by thirty 
different music stores in America, each one 
making heaps of money. But not one of these 
brain-stealers has had sufficient principle to 
bestow a single dime on the composer !" It is 
fitting that the words of " Kathleen Mavour 
neen" should appear here : 

" Kathleen Mavourneen ! the gray dawn is breaking, 

The horn of the hunter is heaid on the hill, 
The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking 

Kathleen Mavourneen ! -what, slumbering still ? 
Oh I hast thou forgotten how soon we must sever ? 

Oh ! hast thou forgotten how soon we must part ? 
It may be for years and it may be for ever, 
Oh ! why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart ? 


" Kathleen Mavourneen ! awake from thy slumbers, 

The blue mountains glow in the sun's golden light ; 
Ah 1 where is the spell that once hung on thy numbers ? 

Arise in thy beauty, thou star of the night ' 
Mavourneen ! Mavoumeen 1 my sad tears are falling, 

To think that from Enn and thee I must part : 
It may be for years, and it may be for ever, 

Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart ?' ' 

A very graceful imitation, or rather tribute, 
to the excellence of the song has appeared from 
the pen of J. Whitcomb Riley, an American 
poet of much delicacy of feeling and expression 
and is well worth preserving- : 

" Kathleen Mavoumeen ! thy song is still ringing, 

As fresh and as clear as the trill of the birds ; 
In world-weary hearts it is sobbing and singing, 

In pathos too sweet for tenderest words. 
Oh ' have we forgotten the one who first breathed it ? 

Oh ! have we forgotten his rapturous art ? 
Our meed to the Master whose genius bequeathed it ? 

Oh ! why art thou silent, thou voice of the heart? 

" Kathleen Mavoumeen 1 thy lover still lingers, 

The long night is waning, the stars pale and few ; 
Thy sad serenader, with tremulous fingers, 

Is bowed with his tears as the lily with dew. 
The old harp-strings quaver, the old voice is shaking, 

In sighs and in sobs moans the yearning refrain : 
The old vision duns, and the old heart is breaking 
Kathleen Mavoumeen, inspire us again 1" 


A domestic drama entitled "Kathleen Ma- 
vourneen, or St. Patrick's Eve" was produced in 
New York in 1865, and seems to have been 
very successful, and has been played in London 
and through the provinces. "Kathleen Ma- 
vourneen" is introduced into the piece, also "Wilt 
thou be my bride, Kathleen ?' 1 and " Kathleen, 
are you goin' to lave me ?" 

Professor Frederick Nicholls Crouch, F R.S., 
died at Portland, U. S., on August i8th, 1896, 
aged eighty-nine, having been born in 1808. 
He married four times, and though partially 
blind, he worked till the last moment almost of 
his life. A sympathetic account of his career 
appeared in "The Era" newspaper, which is 
worth quoting. 

Although he was not without honour in the 
land of his adoption, which has conferred upon 
him the distinctions of Doctor of Music, Master 
of Arts, and Bardic President for the State of 
Maryland, the old composer occasionally re 
gretted the " false step" he made in leaving his 
motherland in 1849, and in one of his last let 
ters to his nephew wrote : " When I made the 
false step of leaving England for America I 
literally buried myself, and have been lost to 
the world ever since. England gave me a 
reputation and a name ; America cremated me." 


Later he wrote more cheerfully : " The old Bard 
is prepared for his final journey. At peace with 
himself, his God, and the world. My last Christ 
mas was the fulfilment of rejoicing. Although 
a failing man I had plenty of respect and abund 
ance of cheer. Three of my children were ab 
sent professionally engaged in other States. 
My two eldest girls are on the stage. My wife 
has wholly recovered. I have no debts, and not 
a single obligation to meet In honour of the 
Irish nation I have composed an anthem. The 
weather here is clear and bracing, but 20 degrees 
below zero, nipping cold for a patriarch verging 
ninety. God bless you and yours. May we 
meet in the unknown sphere." The anthem 
mentioned in this letter, the words of which 
are by Mrs. M. A. Ford, known in the Amer 
ican literary world as " Una/' is entitled " Green 
and Gold." 

In another letter Crouch said: "I went to 
hear my ' Green and Gold' played by a military 
orchestra yesterday. I am to conduct it on 
Monday night, and also to sing, at eighty-nine, 
* Kathleen Mavourneen' in public. Proof posi 
tive this that your uncle lives. How I shall 
acquit myself the result will show. In mental 
spirits I am as bright as ever, but physically I 
am worn out. My two daughters appear in the 


same performance for the whole week." After 
alluding to his restoration to health from a 
recent illness, he added: "It has left me a 
wreck, but not a dead man. Pugnaciously would 
I contest that statement with the newspaper 
reporters. [A reference to many premature 
obituary notices.] I have been writing day 
and night for a Miss Harper, who is preparing 
a book on the ' Song- writers of the Century,' 
in which I appear conspicuously. When pub 
lished will remit a copy endorsed with our 
autographs. Through all my sickness I have 
always adhered to my practice of daily writing 
or perfecting a specific article : music, prose, or 
poetry. The amount of my accumulated MSS. 
is enormous. When the Old Bard really dies 
he will write his own obituary. So rest con 
tent. I am alive and kicking. Life exists in 
the old dog yet." The Old Bard's last poetic 
contribution to the poets' corner of the " Mary 
land Journal" was called " Lament of the Last 
Bard," and was in the nature of a valedictory 
address. A specimen of his muse in his eighty- 
ninth year is the following the last verse of 
this poem : 

" His harp, silent hanging, shrined by the willows, 

His lyrical strains in affection addressed, 
By night winds are wafted over the billows, 
As sorrowing tears bedew the moon's crest, 


On his laurels he'll sleep, where Carolan slumbers, 
His melodies ringing through ages unborn ; 

Out the soul of a bard are measured his numbers, 
And sung they will be when his spirit has gone." 

The eldest son of Frederick William Crouch, 
violoncello player, composer and music tutor 
to William IV., the composer of "Kathleen 
Mavourneen" was born at Devizes, Wiltshire. 
On the paternal side he inherited his musical 
talent. As in acting, so in music heredity plays 
an important part. When nine years old he 
played bass at the Royal Coburg Theatre, 
erected in honour of the marriage of Princess 
Charlotte, daughter of George IV. He grad 
ually won his way to His Majesty's Theatre, 
and once played a violoncello solo before 
Rossini. Bochsi, then at the height of his 
fame, and conductor of the opera, made Crouch 
his pupil. When the latter reached the age of 
twenty his tutor, impressed with his unusual 
vocal ability, transferred him to William Hawes, 
master of Westminster Abbey, of St. Paul's 
Cathedral, and of the Chapel Royal boys. 
When in 1822 the Royal Academy of Music, 
Hanover Square, was established, young Crouch 
became a student there, together with Sterndale 
Bennett and George Macfarren. At the death 


of George IV. he and the other senior students 
were commanded to attend the coronation of 
William IV. and Adelaide, and after this event 
Crouch was appointed gentleman of her Maj 
esty Queen Adelaide's band. He now became 
principal violoncellist at Drury Lane Theatre, 
under the management of Stephen Price, of 
American fame, and here he wrote his first 
ballad, " Zephyrs of Love," for Miss Anna Tree, 
and " The Swiss Song of Meeting" for Madame 
Malibran. At this time he met John Howard 
Payne, the American actor and dramatist, whose 
memory is cherished for his authorship of 
" Home, Sweet Home." It was while visiting 
fair Devonshire that he received from Mrs. 
Crawford the poem of " Kathleen Mavourneen," 
which appeared anonymously in the " Metro 
politan Magazine," for which she wrote. He 
then composed his exquisite music, a worthy 
setting to pathetic and graceful verse, his 
melody at once raising him to fame. Alas ! 
" Kathleen Mavourneen," which should have 
brought its composer fortune as well as fame, 
was sold to a London music publisher for 10. 
Crouch's other work which still lives and is 
perennially popular, includes " O'Donnell's 
Farewell," " The Emigrant's Lament," " Sing 
to Me, Nora," " The Exile of Erin," " Sheila, 


My Darling Colleen," and " Dermot Astore." 
He also composed several operas. 

When William IV. died, Crouch was com 
manded to attend the coronation of Queen 
Victoria. Subsequently he became musical 
t editor for the firm of D'Almaine and Company, 
Soho Square, who contracted for all his songs 
for the ensuing seven years. Next he was 
offered and accepted the post of musical re 
viewer on the " Metropolitan Magazine," edited 
by Captain Marryat, R.N., the immortal teller 
of sea stories. In his new capacity Crouch 
came to know intimately most of the literary 
celebrities of the period, and in a letter to his 
nephew at Liverpool he said, regarding a copy 
of Dickens's " Chimes," which had not reached 
him, " The ' Chimes' not arrived, though much 
desired for old association's sake with my fellow 
scribe Charles Dickens. We wrote together 
with Mrs. Abdy, Mrs. Crawford, Countess 
Blessington, Douglas Jerrold, Thackeray, Mar 
ryat, Poole, and others in the pages of the 
' Metropolitan Magazine,' published by Chap 
man and Hall, who were publishing Dickens's 
' Sketches by Boz. 1 " 

In 1849 Crouch left England for America, 
and he never returned. He was first associated 
with Max Maretzek in New York. Afterwards 


he sang in church choirs, taught, and lectured, 
until the great rush for the gold of California 
bore him with the human tide westward. Re 
verses overtook him, however ; his wife fell ill, 
and he had to stop far short of California. His 
money dwindled away he had previously con 
verted his property into gold and sent his library 
and manuscripts to Baltimore. Through the 
influence of friends he was appointed choir 
master of a church at Washington, and became 
a teacher in the first circles in the city. He 
migrated to Richmond, Virginia, where he was 
doing well when the American Civil War broke 
out. Without hesitation Crouch joined the 
Confederate forces, sacrificing a salary of 4,000 
dollars per annum for the private soldier's 
twelve dollars per month, which twelve dollars, 
he drily says, " he never got." He enlisted in 
the first Regiment Richmond Greys, quartered 
at Norfolk. From the day on which he entered 
the army until the surrender of General Lee, at 
Appomattox Courthouse, Crouch was always 
at his post; never sick nor absent, and even 
unflinching in his refusal to accept the furlough 
that was offered him. From the last battlefield 
he made his way, with three broken ribs and 
his right hand badly smashed, to Buckingham 
Courthouse. Here he entered into service as a 


gardener and farm hand an occupation he fol 
lowed until the hostilities of the terrible civil 
struggle died down. Then he went to Rich 
mond, and ultimately to Baltimore, where, at 
the age of seventy-five, he found his home, 
books, and manuscripts, reduced to ashes. 
About fifteen years ago the people of Balti 
more interested themselves in the cause of their 
poet-citizen, and he was established once more 
as a teacher of music in that city, in which he 
resided until he died. 

In all the wide range of Crouch's varied 
career, perhaps the most remarkable certainly 
the most touching of his experiences was re 
served for his later years. It seems that a boy 
named James Marion Roche, born at New Ross, 
Kilkenny, grew up with the music of " Kathleen 
Mavourneen" ever on his lips. His love for 
the song was unspeakable, and, although of a 
roving disposition, he remained true to that of 
music. He went to America, joined the navy, 
and fought, all unconsciously, against the author 
of his favourite song. In 1883 he visited Balti 
more, and learned accidentally that Frederick 
Nicholls Crouch resided there, finding it a hard 
task to make both ends meet. Roche's love of 
" Kathleen Mavourneen" was as great as ever, 
and his one desire was to aid its composer, 


To attain this end he, with rare delicacy and 
tact, persuaded the old gentleman to adopt him 
as a son. As James Roche Crouch he lived in 
Florida, and nobly did what he could to make 
life a little easier for his " father." 

Another very favourite song 1 composed by 

Crouch, of a more frolicsome turn, was " Katty, 

Avourneen," written by the late Desmond Ryan: 

" 'Twas a cowld winter night, and the tempest was snarhn', 

The snow, like a sheet, cover' d cabin and stye, 
When Barney flew over the hills to his darlm', 

And tapp'd at the window where Katty did he. 
'Arrah, jewel,' says he, 'are you slaipin' or wakin' ? 

It's a bitther cowld night, and my coat it is thin ; 
The storm it is brewin', and the frost it is bakin', 

Oh, Katty, avourneen, you must let me in. ' 
" * Ah, then, Barney,' says Kate, and she spoke through the 


' How could you be takin' us out of our beds ? 
To come at this time, it's a shame and a sin, too, 
It's whiskey, not love, has got into your head. 
If your heart it was true, of my fame you' d be tender, 

Consider the tune, and there's nobody in. 
What has a poor girl but her name to defend her ? 

No, Barney, avourneen, I won' t let you in. ' 
" 'A cushla,' says he, 'it's my heart is a fountain, 

That weeps for the wrong I might lay at your door ; 
Your name is more white than the snow on the mountain, , 

And Barney would die to preserve it as pure. 
I'll go to my home, tho' the winter winds face me, 

I'll whistle them off, for I'm happy within ; 
And the words of my Katty will comfort and bless me : 
"No, Barney, avourneen, I won't let you in." ' " 




THAT curiously -compounded, old-fashioned 
opera, "Martha," owes its continuous popularity, 
as is tolerably well known, to the introduction 
therein of the ancient Irish melody known to 
the world generally as "The Last Rose of 
Summer." Now, at first sight it may appear 
rather incongruous to assign the song in the 
opera to a lady who is supposed to have lived 
in the reign of Queen Anne ; but, as a matter 
of history, this incident is not quite so out 
rageous as critics, with a scant knowledge of 
Irish music apparently, would have us believe. 
Count Frederick von Flotow's opera, " Martha/' 
founded on a ballet, was first performed at 
Vienna, in 1847. It was given at the Theatre 
Lyrique, Paris, later with Mme. Christine Nilsson 
as the heroine, with so much success, that it ran 
for three hundred nights a most unusual run 
for a piece of any kind half a century ago. It 
was brought to London in 1858, and achieved 


a phenomenal reception, though marry authori 
ties condemned it as mere tinsel. Berlioz, the 
French composer, who detested Flotow, said 
" the beauty of the Irish melody served to dis 
infect the rottenness of the 'Martha' music," 
which was spiteful, silly, and weak. But this 
brings us to the original of the introduced 
number. Thomas Moore, than whom there has 
never been a more un-Irish Irish writer, evi 
dently came upon the melody to which he wrote 
the words commencing, " Tis the last Rose of 
Summer," in a third-hand manner, for he in 
genuously calls it " The Groves of Blarney," 
which was quite a modern production, as far as 
title and words are concerned, written by Richard 
Alfred Milliken, who was born at Castle Martyr, 
Co. Cork, only twenty-three years before Thomas 
Moore saw the light in Dublin, which does not 
say much for that deep acquaintance with ancient 
music which Moore always professed. Now, 
the " Groves of Blarney" was avowedly a bur 
lesque on " Castle Hyde," the fulsome and 
trashy production of a " literary" weaver named 
Barrett, in 1790. Barrett, who was what we 
should term a crank in these days, filled up his 
spare time as an itinerant bard, and with the 
view of being paid for his trouble, composed a 
song in praise (as he doubtless intended it) of 


Castle Hyde, the beautiful seat of the Hyde 
family, on the river B lack water ; but, as the 
writer of the memoir of Milliken says, " instead 
of the expected remuneration, the poor poet 
was driven from the gate, by order of the then 
proprietor, who, from the absurdity of the thing, 
conceived that it could be only meant as a 
mockery ; and, in fact, a more nonsensical com 
position could scarcely escape the pen of a 
maniac. The author, however, well satisfied of 
its merits, and stung with indignation and dis 
appointment, vented his rage in an additional 
verse against the owner, and sung it wherever 
he had an opportunity of raising his angry voice. 
As satire, however gross, is but too generally 
well received, the song first became a favourite 
with the lower orders ; then found its way into 
ballads, and at length into the convivial meetings 
of gentlemen." It was through hearing " Castle 
Hyde" at one of these social gatherings that 
Milliken determined to make a genuine farcical 
song on the lines of the original, so choosing 
Blarney, a fine old castle within three miles of 
Cork, for his subject, and retaining the rhythm 
and adopting the tune of Barrett's effusion the 
tune which Barrett himself took possession of, 
it being a street melody and public property 
and turned out a ludicrous parody of the ridicu- 
12 177 


lous songs that were once so prevalent in every 
Irish village, when every stripling would be a 
bardeen, and sing his foolish rhymes to a foolish 
audience. Rhyme in Ireland has too often been 
more effective than reason, and this weakness 
of the peasantry, of composing verses of an 
extravagant and comically high faluting order, 
engaged the pens of the satirists for hundreds 
of years. Stanihurst, in 1583, published an 
imitation of the Anglo-Irish style attached to 
his translation of " The First Four Books of 
Virgil's ./^Eneis," which he called " An Epitaph, 
entitled Commune Defunctorum, such as our 
unlearned Rithmours accustomably make upon 
the death of every Tom Tyler, as if it were a 
last for eveiy one his foote, in which the quan 
tities of sillables are not to be heeded." The 
burlesque is full of points. Milliken never 
dreamed that his chaffing ballad would attain 
such distinction and celebrity, and though it 
went out anonymously to the rest of the world, 
in Co. Cork its origin and authorship were well 
known. It reached London in due course, and 
was called in one of the weekly prints, " The 
National Irish Poem." Lockhart, in his " Life 
of Sir Walter Scott," attributed it to "the 
poetical Dean of Cork." It was so famous in 
London that everybody was singing and quoting 


it, and Lord Brougham refers to it in one of his 
great Parliamentary speeches. Milliken, in all 
probability, wrote " The Groves of Blarney" in 
1796. Thomas Moore must have heard the 
melody when he was at Trinity College, Dublin, 
where he took his degree in 1798, and almost im 
mediately after left for England, where he event 
ually settled. He may never have known that 
Milliken was the author of the " Groves of Blar 
ney," though Richard Jones, an accomplished 
Metropolitan comedian, records that he obtained 
copies of the song in Cork, in the summer of 
1800, and that he and Mathews, the great actor 
and mimic, carried it back to London, where 
they sang it at concerts, and in their entertain 
ments. The first instalment of the " Irish Melo 
dies," with Moore's very un-Irish words, was 
issued in 1813, and the rest at varying inter 
vals. Milliken died, by the way, in 1815. 
It has been computed that Moore received 
for the " Melodies" remuneration averaging 
one hundred and twenty-one pounds per song, 
or six pounds per line. Very comforting re 
muneration, too ! 

But to return to "The Last Rose of Sum 
mer." Wherever Moore obtained the melody 
it is certain he could not have known it in its 
original form as played by the travelling bards 


and harpers of Jreland, for he has considerably 
altered the character of the music, and has not 
in any way improved upon even the " Groves 
of Blarney" version as a national melody. Al 
though the composer and author are unknown, 
the title of the tune may be ascribed to about 
1660, so that from a musical point of view 
Flotow was well within the calendar in using it 
for his " Martha," as the basis of the well-known 
air existed long prior to the reign of Queen 

Lovers of Ireland and its national songs and 
music have always regretted that Thomas 
Moore, in undertaking to rescue the Irish 
melodies, did not preserve the spirit and nature 
of the country whence they sprang in the lyrics 
that he fitted and dovetailed to them. For the 
chief characteristic of Moore's Irish melodies, 
that is to say the lyrics, is their lack of Irish 
characteristics. To be candid, though here and 
there an Irish town, or vale, or waterfall, or lake 
is mentioned, all the Irish songs are absolutely 
English in form, metre and sentiment. Erin 
comes in nowhere; and Hibernia is only 
scantily and half shamefully referred to as a 
sort of apology for the music which is so es 
sentially Irish. Again, the words are not always 
wedded to the music, they are only joined to it, 


fitted and fixed to it the music plays the 
second part and not the first. Though Thomas 
Moore, " who dearly loved a lord/'as his friend 
Lord Byron said, was a poet of Ireland, he was 
in nowise an Irish poet in sentiment, sympathy 
or sensibility. Still we are not ungrateful to 
him for his labour in saving to us these classic 
pieces. Moore's other " Melodies" are fully- 
dealt with in a later chapter. 

" Shandon Bells," once a great favourite, was 
written by Francis Mahoney, who chose as his 
nom de plume " Father Prout," by which name 
he is mostly known. The " Bells" in question 
refer to Shandon, where, 

*' The spreading Lee that, like an island fair, 
Encloseth Cork with his divided flood." 

The history of the Bells and the origin of the 
song are of more than passing interest. Crofton 
Croker, in his " Popular Songs of Ireland," tells 
us that the steeple of the church of St. Anne, or 
Upper Shandon, in which hung the bells cele 
brated in the song, is one hundred and twenty 
feet high, and being built upon a considerable 
eminence, appears a remarkable object in every 
point of view of the city ; but especially from 
what Moore has termed " its noble sea avenue," 


the river Lee. The building of the church 
commenced in 1722, and its steeple was con 
structed of the hewn stone from the Franciscan 
Abbey, where James II. heard mass, and from 
the ruins of Lord Barry's castle, which had been 
the official residence of the lords president of 
Munster and whence this quarter of the city 
takes its name Shandon signifying in Irish the 
old fort or castle. But as the demolished abbey 
had been built of limestone, and the castle of 
redstone, the taste of the architect of Shandon 
steeple led him to combine the discordant 
materials, which ecclesiastic and civic revolution 
had placed at his disposal, by constructing three 
sides of his work white, and the remaining side 
of red stone ; a circumstance which has occa 
sioned many local jokes and observations, the 
most memorable of which is embodied in some 
rhymes commencing : 

" Party-coloured, like the people, 
Red and white stands Shandon steeple," 

said to have been addressed to Dr. Wood 
ward, Bishop of Cloyne, by the famous Father 

Fitz-Gerald in his "Cork Remembrancer" 
says that Shandon bells were put up during the 
summer of 1752. 



The Reverend Francis Sylvester Mahoney, 
the author of " Shandon Bells," was born in 
Cork, 1805, and died in a monastery in Paris 
(to which he had retired two years previously) 
in May, 1866. He took Holy Orders after 
studying in a Jesuit College at Paris ; but eventu 
ally he became a litterateur and journalist. He 
was a constant contributor to " Eraser's Maga 
zine," " Bentley's Miscellany," the "Athenaeum" 
and other papers. He later became corre 
spondent at Rome for the " Daily News," and 
still later acted as Paris correspondent for the 
" Globe." Under his adopted name of Father 
Prout he achieved much celebrity by writing 
prose and Irish verse in " Fraser's Maga 
zine." These writings have been collected and 
republished and have become classics. He 
was not of a very clerical nature that is as 
far as his priestly calling goes but was greatly 
loved and respected by all who knew him. He 
was Bohemian to the backbone, and as full of 
fun as an Irish Leprachaun careless in his 
dress but careful of his witty company. He 
wrote his celebrated verses when he was a 
student at an Irish college in Rome. It is said 
that the opening lines are still to be seen in a 
room there, scratched on a wall just above 
where his bed used to be. He was doubtless a 


little homesick at the time, and listening maybe 
to the tolling of the many church bells in the 
Eternal City. I give two verses only as the 
poem is so well known : 

" With deep affection 
And recollection, 
I often think of 

Those Shandon Bells, 
Whose sounds so wild would, 
In the days of childhood, 
Fling round my cradle 

Their magic spells. 

" I've heard bells chiming, 
Full many a clime in, 
Tolling sublime in 

Cathedral shrine ; 
While at a glibe rate 
Brass tongues would vibrate, 
But all their music 

Spoke naught like thine." 

In after years, in discussing the subject of the 
melody of bells, he says : " But there is nothing, 
after all, like the associations which early in 
fancy attaches to the well-known and long 
remembered chimes of our own parish steeple : 
and no music can equal the effect upon our ear 
when returning after long absence in foreign 
and perhaps happier countries." There are no 


bells actually at Shandon now, though there 
were in Prout's time, of course. The song has 
been set several times, but the only two of value 
are, first, the setting by J. L. Hatton, and 
second, by Mrs. H. Morgan. John Liphot 
Hatton, whose setting is generally considered 
the best, was born in 1809 and died in 1877. 
He composed music for a vast quantity of 
pieces, songs, operettas, dramas, and so on, and 
was the musical director at the Princess's 
Theatre under Charles Kean, and composed 
the music for the Shakespearean productions. 
" Good-bye, Sweetheart, Good-bye" is his most 
enduring work. 

A very touching Irish song, " The Exile of 
Erin," was written by a Scotchman Thomas 
Campbell the poet, to wit although it has often 
been attributed to the Irish verse-writer, George 
Nugent Reynolds, though there is no evidence 
to show that Reynolds ever claimed it himself. 
Unfortunately after his death his friends caused 
a great bother about it, saying that it was 
written by him as a second part of his lyric 
commencing : 

" Green -were the fields where my forefathers dwelt O, 

Erin, ma voureen ! slan leat go bragh ! 
Though our farm was small yet comforts we felt 0, 
Erin, ma voureen ! slan leat go bragh 1 


At length came the day when our lease did expire, 
And fain would I live where before lived my sire ; 
But, ah ' well-a-day, I was forced to retire, 
Erin, ma voureen ! slan leat go bragh !" 

Compare this sorry stuff with Campbell's touch 
ing poem, addressed to Anthony McCann, 
exiled for being implicated in the Irish rebellion 
of 1/98. Campbell met him when staying in 
Hamburg : 

" There came to the beach a poor Exile of Erin, 

The dew on his thin robes was heavy and chill ; 
For his country he sighed, when at twilight repairing 

To wander alone by the wind-beaten hill. 
But the day-star ata acted his eyes' sad devotion, 
For it rose o' er his own native isle of the ocean, 
Where once, in the fire of his youthful emotion, 
He sang the bold anthem of Erin-go-bragh !" 

All the same, it would not be fair to say that 
Reynolds did not write the " Exile of Erin" 
because he could not, because as a matter of 
fact he wrote many very tolerable though not 
super-excellent lyrics. 

At one time, after the death of Reynolds, and 
while Campbell was still living, his friend Her 
cules Ellis took up the cudgels, and did his 
utmost to prove that the Scotch poet had 
plagiarized, or rather stolen, the Irishman's 
work. Ellis himself was a voluminous rhymer 


of very little pretension and of a very quarrel 
some nature. Letters were written to the 
"Times" from both sides, and in one of his 
articles he says : " Our friend desires us to say 
that, in the event of Mr. Campbell's contradict 
ing this statement, he will produce several living 
witnesses to prove that Mr. Reynolds had shown 
to and sung for them as his own composition the 
identical lines several years prior to his death, 
and prior to Mr. Campbell's publication of 
them." In answer to this Campbell stated in 
the "Times" of June l/th, 1830, that he com 
posed the song, "The Exile of Erin," at 
Altona, and sent it off immediately from that 
place to London, where it was published in the 
" Morning Chronicle," and so on. It is not my 
intention to open up this matter, as it has long 
since been known that Campbell was the author, 
and no one else. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy's 
words, however, prefixed to Reynolds's " Mary 
Le More," in the " Ballad Poetry of Ireland" 
(1845), are worth giving: "Mr. Reynolds was 
a Leitrim gentleman of moderate property, 
earnest patriotism, and respectable ability. Be 
tween the era of Independence and the Union 
he wrote several rough, strong, popular songs 
in the national interest, one or two of which 
still hold their ground in the collections. Lat- 


terly a claim has been made on his behalf 
to the 'Exile of Erin,' so strongly sustained 
by sworn evidence, that nothing but the char 
acter of Campbell could resist it. It is, how 
ever, weakened by the fact that none of his 
acknowledged writings are in the same style, or 
of the same ability." Which may end the mat 
ter once and for all. Campbell, by the way, 
wrote other Irish poems of considerable native 
feeling, "O'Connor's Child," and "The Irish 
Harper and his Dog Tray," for he always had 
a surprising affection for the Irish, and a sym 
pathy with the sentiment of her songs. It 
should not be forgotten, by the way, that 
Thomas Campbell was the author of what is 
perhaps the finest sea song ever written, to wit, 
" Ye Mariners of England." The " Exile of 
Erin" is frequently called in music and song- 
books " Erin-go-Bragh," which is quite a differ 
ent song. It was usually sung to " Savourneen 

George Nugent Reynolds, by the way, wrote 
a smart operetta called " Bantry Bay," which 
was performed at Covent Garden, with music 
by W. Reeve, in 1797. Reynolds died at 
Stowe, the seat of his relative, the Marquis of 
Buckingham, in 1802. 

There is an ancient Irish melody which is not 


often met with now, though Robert Burns wrote 
a stanza for the same in 1787, and two more 
stanzas in 1796, and called it, " O Whistle an* 
I'll come to you, my lad," which has not a very 
Scottish ring. The air is unmistakably Irish 
in method and construction, and Bunting gives 
it as an example of a very early style, with the 
defective fourth and seventh. A claim was put 
in for one Bruce, a performer on the violin, but 
John Maine, the author of " Logan Water" and 
the " Siller Gun," declared that although Bruce 
was a good performer, he had never been known 
to compose anything. It was made startlingly 
popular in London, and then throughout Eng 
land, by O'Keefe, who introduced it into his 
musical farce, "The Poor Soldier," at Covent 
Garden, in 1782, with other Irish melodies. 
The original Irish was a comic song, " Go de 
sin den te sin," "What is that to him?" In 
the opera the melody was sung by the character 
Kathlane, to words beginning, "Since love is 
the plan." Indeed O'Keefe, who wrote such 
standard lyrics as "I am a Friar of Orders 
Grey," "The Ploughboy," " The Wolf," "The 
Thorn," and others, was in the habit of con 
verting the songs of his own country to practical 
uses in his operas and plays, of which he is said 
to have written about two hundred. 




" GIVE," said Queen Elizabeth to Lord Bur 
leigh, while Spenser knelt, poems in hand, " Give 
the youth one hundred pounds." " What," ex 
claimed Burleigh, "all this for a song?" "Then 
give him what 's reason," said the queen, thus 
leaving him in the hands of Burleigh, who ended 
by making the bard indeed poet-laureate, but 
never bestowed the promised guerdon. Spen 
ser's patience wearing out, he wrote these lines 
to the queen, which had the desired effect : 

" I -was promised on a time, 
To have Reason for my Rhyme ; 
From that tame until this season 
I've got neither Rhyme nor Reason." 

But it has been the way of the world to keep 
the song and forget the singer, yet the greatest 


and wisest men of all ages have chosen song 
as the best means of reaching the heart of 
the people. For song was the earliest indication 
of the evolution of man from barbarism into 
civilization. Naturally, a large number of our 
popular songs have arisen from some personal 
experience or memory of the writer, and if so 
many bards have written in a melancholy key, it 
should be recollected that, as Goethe happily 
says, " The hope of bringing back old happy 
days burns up again in us as if it could never be 
extinguished." For most poets " learn in suffer 
ing what they teach in song." Remember what 
Heine said of himself: " Aus meinen grossen 
Schmezen, mach' ich die Klienen Lieder." If 
the worldly reward to our song w'riters is but 
small, they enjoy such compensations in their 
talents that none outside the charmed circle 
.could ever understand. Troubadour and min 
strel days are dead. 

One of the earliest songs with a history is the 
piece sung by Blondel to his master, King 
Richard I., when his majesty was in prison. In 
1190 Richard of the Lion Heart joined the 
Crusade with Philip Augustus of France, but, a 
division taking place between the two princes, 
the latter returned to Europe. Richard remained 
in the East, where he displayed uncommon 


vigour against Saladin, whom he defeated near 
Csesarea, and, having made a truce, he embarked 
in a vessel which was wrecked on the coast of 
Italy. He then travelled in disguise through 
part of Germany, but being discovered by 
Leopold, Duke of Austria, he was made pris 
oner and sent to the Emperor Henry II., who 
had him confined in a castle, until discovered 
by his favourite minstrel as related below. I 
give the original diction : 

" The Englishmen were more than a whole 
yeare without hearing any tydings of their king, 
or in what place he was kept prisoner. He had 
trained up in his service a Rimer or Minstrill 
called Blondel de Nesle, who (so saith the 
manuscript of Old Poesies, and one Auncient 
Manuscript French Chronicle), being so long 
without the sight of his lord, his life seemed 
wearisome to him, and he became confounded 
with melancholy. Knowne it was that he came 
backe from the Holy Land but none could tell 
in what country he arrived. Whereupon this 
Blondel resolving to make search for him in 
many countries but he would hear some newes 
of him. After experience of divers dayes in 
travaille, he came to a towne (by good hap) 
neere to the Castell where his maister King- 
Richard was kept. Of his host he demanded 


to whom the Castell appertained and the host 
told him it belonged to the Duke of Austria. 
Then he enquired whether there were any pris 
oners therein detained or no, for always he 
made such scant questionings wheresoever he 
came. And the hoste gave answer, there was 
only one prisoner, but he knew not what he 
was, and yet he had been detained there more 
than the space of a yeare. When Blondel 
heard this he wrought such meanes that he be 
came acquainted with them of the castell, as 
minstrills doe easily win acquaintance any 
where. But see the King he could not, neither 
understand that it was he. One day he sat 
directly before a window of the castell where 
King Richard was kept prisoner, and began to 
sing a song in French which King Richard and 
Blondel had some time composed together. 
When King Richard heard the song, he knew 
it was Blondel that sung it ; and when Bondel 
paused at halfe of the song, the King began the 
other halfe and completed it. Thus Blondel 
won knowledge of the king his maister and 
returning home into England made the barons 
of the countrie acquainted where the king 

This happened about the year 1193. I ap 
pend a translation of the old Provencal lines 
13 193 


sung by the Troubadour Blondel and Richard 

Cceur de Lion : 


" Your beauty, lady fair, 

None view without delight, 
But still so cold an air 

No passion can excite ; 
Yet this I patient see 
While all are shunned like me. 

" No nymph my heart can wound 

If favour she divide, 
And smiles on all around, 

Unwilling to decide ; 
I'd rather hatred bear 
Than love with others share." 

There are many memorable records of the 
bravery and gallantry of troubadours and min 
strels, especially the English and French, to be 
found in our histories. The story of " Richard 
Cceur de Lion" has been dramatized as a 
romance, with ballads and songs. The original 
was by M. Sedaine, and produced in operatic 
form at the Comedie Italienne in 1786. It was 
adapted to the English stage first by Leonard 
McNally (Covent Garden, October i6th, 1786), 
the second by General Burgoyne (Drury Lane, 
October 24th, 1786). 

Chronology and order can scarcely be fol 
lowed with any degree of success in a popular 


work of this kind, so I shall proceed with the 
different histories as they come convenient to 
hand. The supremely touching words of " An 
nabel Lee" were wrested from the torn heart of 
the melancholy, morbid Edgar Allan Poe, by 
the early death of the girl who so swiftly cap 
tured and tamed, for a time, the wild spirit of 
the misguided and misjudged poet " Annabel 
Lee" was the poetic name bestowed by Poe on 
his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who became his 
wife in 1836. She was a beautiful girl, for 
whom he possessed and always cherished the 
sweetest and tenderest feelings. He strained 
every nerve to provide a home for her and for her 
mother, who continued with him and Virginia, 
and to care for them and to assist them all 
through the few years of their married life, and 
who, even after the death of the idolized wife 
and daughter she died in 1847 acted the part 
of a mother in the noblest sense of the word to 
the bereaved poet. If Virginia had lived, there 
is no doubt that Poe would have been a far dif 
ferent man ; as it was, the greater portion of his 
life was a mistake, intensified by a highly ner 
vous temperament and weak impulses ; but his 
name will never die, for " Annabel Lee," one of 
the least of his poems, is alone sufficient to 
secure the applause of all posterity. The poem 


is too well-known to require quoting here ; one 
verse, however, will not be out of place : 

" But our love it was stronger by far than the love 
Of those who were older than we 
Of many far wiser than we 
And neither the Angels in Heaven above, 

Nor the demons down under the sea, 
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul 
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee." 

Many composers have set the words to music. 
I have seen the statement somewhere that 
" My Pretty Jane" has proved the most profit 
able song ever issued ; and yet it was almost by 
accident that it was given to the world at all. 
Edward Fitz-Ball, the author of the lyric, and 
of something like a hundred plays, when a 
youth, lived at Burwell, an old-fashioned village 
about three miles from Newmarket, on the road 
to Cambridge. It was his custom to pass along 
one of the numerous lanes round the village, in 
the early morning, for the purpose of looking 
after his father's property. In his route there 
happened to be in this particular lane the house 
of a farmer, who had a pretty daughter called 
Jane. And often, as young Fitz-Ball wended 
his merry way, this girl would peep round the 
corner of the blind of her window, showing 
only her eyes, forehead, nose, hair and ears, 


and with charming simplicity nod to him as he 
passed along. One day in the bright summer 
time, when " the bloom is on the rye," the future 
librettist sat down on a convenient stile, and 
wrote in less than ten minutes the words of the 
excellent song, " My Pretty Jane." When he 
left his native place for London, and obtained an 
engagement to write songs for the management 
of Vauxhall Gardens, he discovered " My Pretty 
Jane" amongst his other almost forgotten MSS., 
and gave it to Sir Henry Bishop to set. Sir 
Henry Bishop, however, was not always satis 
fied with his own compositions, and discarded 
the song after he had composed the music. 
When applied to for a new lyric, Fitz-Ball said, 
" If ' Pretty Jane' won't do, I shall write no 
other." So they proceeded to Sir Henry 
Bishop's house, but found that gentleman out. 
Poking about his room Fitz-Ball lighted upon 
the song, which had been thrown in the waste- 
paper basket. The manager accepted it on the 
author's responsibility, and that night it was 
sung by George Robinson, the great tenor of 
the day, and at once created an enormous 
success. Then it was sung by Alexander Lee, 
and now for over thirty years it has, of course, 
been associated with the name of Sims Reeves. 
The original " Pretty Jane" is believed to have 


died of consumption; her portrait, painted by 
Fitz-Ball, is now in the possession of the drama 
tist's daughter. 

In the original version of " My Pretty Jane," 
as printed in " Thirty-five Years of a Dramatic 
Author's Life/ 3 and as it is sung to this day, 
the second verse begins : 

" Oh, name the day, the wedding day, 

And I will buy the ring ; 
The Bridal Maids in garlands gay, 
And village bells shall ring." 

The false rhyme in the second and fourth 
lines being pointed out to him by George 
Linley, Fitz-Ball altered the same when he re- 
published the lyric in his work, " The House 
to Let: With other Poems," in 1857, as under: 

" But name the day, the wedding day, 

And I will buy the rag ; 
The bells shall peal love's roundelay, 
And village maids shall sing " 

Edward Fitz-Ball was a curious man, but a most 
indefatigable worker. He died October 2/th, 
1873, aged eighty years. 

Besides " My Pretty Jane," which was origin 
ally published as "When the Bloom is on 
the Rye," with a portrait of George Robinson 
on the cover, Fitz-Ball wrote at least three 

From the painting by \V. Magrath 



notable songs, "When I beheld the Anchor 
Weighed," " There is a Flower that Bloometh," 
and " Let me like a Soldier Fall." Generally 
speaking, Fitz-Ball's words were very mediocre, 
though in his day it was actually said of one of 
his efforts, " Bhanavar," that it was equal to, if 
it did " not surpass Tennyson's and Long 
fellow's best work, and was second only to 
' Childe Harold.' " 

Numberless tales have been recited respecting 
the origin of that delightful old song, " The Lass 
of Richmond Hill." One is to the effect that 
it was written by a young lady rejoicing in the 
name of Rosa Smith, who resided at Richmond, 
Surrey, and conceitedly termed herself the 
" Lass of Richmond Hill," but her claims are 
without grounds, notwithstanding that she wrote 
verses. Another story goes that it was written 
by Mr. Upton, who was the author of many 
Vauxhall pieces and many lyrics, amongst the 
latter being, " Remember, Love, Remember," 
and " The Garden Gate ;" but there is no evi 
dence in support of this statement whatever. 
The fact is, as stated by Sir Jonah Barrington, 
in his " Personal Sketches," that the song was 
written by Leonard McNally, a young Irish 
barrister. The Richmond referred to is un 
questionably the place of that name in York- 


shire, and the lass was Miss I'Anson or Janson 
(spelt both ways), and the " Hill" was the house 
her family occupied. McNally's grand-daughter 
and Janson's descendants all testify to his 
authorship. Miss I'Anson was the daughter 
of William I'Anson, of Hill House, Richmond, 
Yorks, and McNally wooed and married her on 
January i6th, 1787, at St. George's, Hanover 
Square. Mr. I'Anson was a solicitor, and there 
fore likely to meet with Leonard McNally, per 
haps through his son, who was a barrister. 
McNally's daughter afterwards married a gen 
tleman of the name of Simpson, at Richmond. 
Mr. I'Anson practised as a solicitor in Bedford 
Row, London. There can be no possible doubt 
about McNally's marriage with Miss I'Anson, 
nor of his being the author of the song, the 
music of which was written by James Hook, 
the father of Theodore Hook, though for a 
long time it was attributed to the Prince of 
Wales (afterwards George IV). It was also 
said to have been a great favourite with George 
III. The " Lass of Richmond Hill" was written 
and composed some time before it was publicly 
given, which occurred in 1789, when Incledon 
sang it at Vauxhall Gardens. The words ap 
pear to have been first printed in the " Morning 
Herald," of August ist, 1789, but it was circu- 


lated privately by McNally among his friends 
long prior to this. 

"A piece of negative evidence," says the 
editor of the " Poets of Ireland" " not hitherto 
mentioned in favour of McNally's authorship is, 
that in ' Myrtle and Vine/ a collection of songs 
edited by C. H. Wilson (where there are about 
a dozen songs by Upton, the reputed author of 
the ' Lass of Richmond Hill/ whom Wilson 
probably knew, for he seems to have got the 
songs from the author direct), the lyric about 
which there has been so much dispute is given 
anonymously. If Upton had written it his name 
would presumably have been put to it as to the 
others by him." It is a curious fact that the 
song does not appear inUpton's collected poems. 
It seems odd, truly, that I'Anson should have 
lived so far away as Richmond, in Yorkshire, 
but over and over again it has been proved that 
such was the case, as he had a town house as 
well. There is a public house called " The Lass 
of Richmond Hill," on Richmond Hill, in Sur 
rey, due to a natural misconception by the orig 
inal owner, and this has misled many people. 
McNally, who wrote a number of songs and 
operettas for Covent Garden and other theatres, 
was born in Dublin, in 1/52, and died in the 
same city, February I3th, 1820. 


That delightful old ballad, "Sally in our 
Alley," was written and composed, as every 
body knows, by that erratic genius Henry 
Carey, whose grand-daughter was the mother 
of the great Edmund Kean. Carey was a most 
prolific verse-maker and composer, and is said 
to have been a natural son of George Savile, 
Marquis of Halifax. He was very popular both 
as dramatist and musician. Indeed, he was a 
most extraordinary worker, and was constantly 
producing new operas and operettas from his 
fertile brain. Besides a number of plays, too 
numerous to be given, he wrote that never-to- 
be-forgotten burlesque, " Chrononhotontho- 
logos," which he happily described as "The 
most Tragical Tragedy that ever was Trage- 
dized by any Company of Tragedians." It was 
produced with enormous success at the Hay- 
market Theatre, February 22nd, 1734. In 
1713, Carey published a volume of his poems, 
and later his Songs, Cantatas, Catches, etc. 
But of all his compositions " Sally in our Alley," 
will be ever the most popular (many of his other 
pieces would well bear resuscitating), and will 
transmit his fame to all posterity. It is " one of 
the most striking and original melodies ever 
written." Carey's account of its origin is as 
follows : " A shoemaker's apprentice making a 


holiday with his sweetheart, treated her with a 
sight of Bedlam, the puppet shows, the flying 
chairs, and all the elegancies of Moorfields, 
whence, proceeding to the Farthing Pie House, 
he gave her a collation of buns, cheese cakes, 
gammon of bacon, stuffed beer and bottled ale, 
through all which scenes the author dodged 
them." Charmed with the simplicity of their 
courtship he drew from what he had witnessed 
this little sketch of nature. He adds, with 
pardonable pride, that Addison had more than 
once expressed his approbation of his produc 
tion. " Strange to say, he was much ridiculed 
by some of his acquaintance for the perform 
ance, which nevertheless made its way into the 
polite world." It was utilized in the " Beggar's 
Opera" by Gay in 1728, and sung by Macheath 
in the " Medley," in scene 2, act iii. It was also 
introduced into several other plays and parodied 
and imitated right and left. Carey's music was 
superseded in 1760 by an older tune (about 
1620) called, " What though I am a Country 
Lasse," which it curiously resembled, and to 
which it is now always given. 

Carey, who was created Mus. Doc., died 

October 4th, 1743, though how old he was it is 

not easy to say. Some say he was eighty, 

others that he was under fifty. His posthumous 



son, George Savile Carey, inherited much of his 
father's talents and also his characteristics. He 
was an actor and an entertainer, and appeared 
to succeed better in the latter line. He always 
claimed that his father wrote both words and 
music of " God Save the King." Chappell sup 
ports this, and says it was written for a birthday 
of George II. Dr. Finck is of the same opinion. 
It was G. S. Carey's daughter Anne who was 
the mother of Edmund Kean, the father was 
a Jew. 

It is a wonderful coincidence, that to the year 
1740 we are indebted for the first appearance 
in public of three of our most popular and most 
national songs, " God Save the King," " The 
Roast Beef of Old England," by Henry Fielding, 
and" Rule Britannia," by James Thomson ; while 
just nineteen years later appeared the magni 
ficent patriotic song, " Hearts of Oak," written 
by David Garrick, who had a pretty wit for 
turning a ballad, and composed by Dr. Boyce. 
" Hearts of Oak" was first sung by Mr. Champ- 
nes in public at Drury Lane Theatre, De 
cember, 1759, in a Christmas entertainment, 
entitled, " Harlequin's Invasion," prepared by 
Roscius himself. It was written under the in 
spiration of the year (1759) of Pitt's greatest 
triumphs, the year of Minden and Quiberon and 


Quebec, the " wonderful year" of the lyric, a 
year in which the British arms were covered 
with glory by the Marquis of Granby, Lord 
Hawke, and General Wolfe : 

" Come cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer, 
To add something more to this wonderful year ; 
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves, 
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?" 

It is a truly grand patriotic production. 

" Roast Beef" was adapted to a tune composed 
by Richard Leveridge, about 1/28, who also 
wrote part of the words at the time. The song, 
with Fielding's improved lyric, was published in 
Walsh's " British Miscellany," about 1 740. The 
authorship of " Rule Britannia" has been dis 
puted, some authorities at one time inclining to 
the belief that as David Mallet was concerned 
with Thomson in writing the masque "Alfred," 
in which the Ode was originally sung, he was the 
writer. I will first give a quotation from W. 
Chappell's "National English Airs:" "'Rule 
Britannia/ from the masque of ' Alfred/ com 
posed by Dr. Arne. This masque was written 
by James Thomson and David Mallet, and was 
performed in the gardens of Cliefden House in 
commemoration of the accession of George I., 
and in honour of the birthday of the Princess 


of Brunswick on August ist, 1740. It was after 
wards altered into an opera (by the same com 
poser) and performed at Covent Garden in 1745 ; 
and, after the death of Thomson, which occurred 
in 1748, it was again entirely remodelled by 
Mallet, scarcely any part of the first being re 
tained, and performed at Drury Lane, in 1751. 
The words of ' Rule Britannia' were, however, 
written by Thomson." It was already a cele 
brated song in 1745, for during the Jacobite 
Rebellion in the north, of that year, the Jacob 
ites, with consummate impudence, took the lay, 
and altered the words to suit their own cause, 
and termed it their " National Song !" Handel 
makes use of the air in his " Occasional Cra- 
torios," with slight variations, to words be 

"War shall cease, 
Welcome peace !" 

in 1746. 

When Mallet altered the opera, or masque of 
" Alfred," it proved a fearful fiasco, and it was not 
till Thomson was dead that he claimed the ode 
as his own composition a composition which 
Southey (including the music, of course,) said 
would be " the political hymn of this country as 
long as she maintains her political power." Yet 
the song was actually published in Edinburgh 


in the second edition of a well-known song 
book during Mallet's life-time with Thomson's 
initials, and apparently Mallet made no stir. 

David Mallet earned much notoriety as a 
purloiner of other people's wares, and his im 
posture with regard to " Margaret's Ghost" is 
-ancient history to students of old ballads and 
Percy's "Reliques." I will give an extract 
from a contribution by the talented author of 
" Popular Music of the Olden Time" to " Notes 
and Queries," November 2Oth, 1886. "I will 
now refer to 'Alfred.' It was performed a 
a second time at Cliefden House, with great 
success, and soon ' Rule Britannia' became a 
national song. In 1745 'Alfred' was altered 
into an opera by Dr. Arne, the principal vocal 
parts being taken by Mrs. Arne, Miss Young, 
Mrs. Sybilla, and Mr. Lowe, at Covent Garden 
(this was for the benefit of Mrs. Arne), and 
turned into a musical drama at Drury Lane, both 
in the same year. In 1748 James Thomson, 
the poet, died from fever, and that suggested to 
Mallet the idea of robbing his friend and fellow- 
countryman (they were both Scottish) of his 
share of the credit he had gained by the triple 
production of 'Alfred/ and especially by the 
ode ; but Dr. Arne, who outlived Thomson and 
Mallet till 1788, stood always in Mallet's way. 


It was his music to ' Rule Britannia' that had 
been one great cause of the success, and every 
body knew that the ode had been written by 
Thomson, who gave the words to Arne to set to 
music, and many thousands of copies had been 
printed within the ten or eleven years that had 
elapsed. In the meantime Mallet had received 
a commission to write the life of the great Duke 
of Marlborough, for which he had received 
;i,ooo from the Duchess, and an annuity from 
the Duke to expedite his labours. How he 
carried out his contract is thus told in the ' Bio- 
graphia Dramatica,' 1812, and elsewhere. 

"No. 143, 'Alfred,' a masque by David 
Mallet, acted at Drury Lane, 8vo, 1751. This 
is the play of Messrs. Thomson and Mallet, 
entirely new modelled by the latter ; no part of 
the first being retained except a few lines. 
Though excellently performed, it was not very 
successful. The prologue was written by the 
Earl of Cork. It has been said that Mallet 
procured 'Alfred' to be performed at Drury 
Lane by insinuating to Garrick that in his 
intended life of the Duke of Marlborough he 
should, by an ingenious device, find a niche for 
the Roscius of the age. ' My dear friend,' said 
Garrick, 'have you left off writing for the 
stage ?' The hint was taken, and ' Alfred' was 


produced. Garrick himself afterwards tried to 
turn Mallet's failure as a masque into a tragedy, 
in 17/3, to recover some of the money he had 
lost upon it, but he was not more successful 
than before. Mallet's ' Life of the Duke of 
Marlborough' was paid for but never written. 
Mallet employed Lord Bolingbroke to write 
three additional verses for ' Rule Britannia' to 
replace three of Thomson's (which he would 
never have done if they had been his own) but 
the public would not have the new verses, and 
insisted upon Thomson's which they knew." 
To add further proof to the fact that Thomson 
was the genuine author of " Rule Britannia," I 
may state that in all the public advertisements 
when Arne's opera was played, Thomson's name 
alone was announced as the author of the ode. 
The rest of David Mallet's shameful life will be 
found in any English biography. He enjoyed 
a considerable pension, which had been bestowed 
on him for his success in turning the public ven 
geance upon Admiral Byng by means of a letter 
of accusation under the character of " A Plain 
Man." That pension was Mallet's blood money. 
He had also a legacy of the copyright of Lord 
Bolingbroke's "Works," Bolingbroke having 
employed him to " blast the memory of Pope/' 
"an office which he executed with all the 
14 209 


malignity that his employer could wish." Mallet 
had been a thorough parasite to Pope before, 
and Bolingbroke was the wretched hypocrite 
whom Pope, by leaving all his MSS. to him, 
had made the guardian of his character. No 
Scotchman would attend Mallet's funeral ; but a 
monument was raised by public subscription to 
the memory of James Thomson in Westminster 
Abbey. Mallet's real name was Malloch, and 
he died in 1765, aged sixty. 






IN October, 1895, Henry Russell, who is eighty- 
six years old, published his memoirs under the 
taking title of "Cheer, Boys, Cheer," from 
which we gather the following particulars. 

Evincing early a taste for music, and reveal 
ing as a child the possession of an excellent 
voice, Mr. Russell was taken, when eight years 
old, to Elliston, who engaged him for the 
" children's operas" he was giving at the Surrey 
Theatre. From the elder Kean, who heard 
him sing at Richmond, he received the assur 
ance that " You will never become a great actor 
or a great singer unless you learn to speak 


every word you utter distinctly and clearly. 
Unintelligibility and slovenliness in speech are 
the curse of the profession." By-and-by Mr. 
Russell went to Italy to study, and was so 
lucky as to obtain some gratis lessons in counter 
point, harmony, and orchestration from Bellini, 
the composer. He afterwards found employ 
ment as a pianist and chorus-master, and 
travelled a good deal in company with Balfe, 
who was then singing in opera. Returning to 
England he was for a time chorus-master at 
Her Majesty's under Lumley; then, his pro 
spects appearing to be vague, if not cloudy, he 
decided to seek his fortunes in the New World. 
He went to Canada, opening at Toronto, where 
his first concert resulted in a pecuniary loss. 
At Rochester, N. Y., he was offered, and ac 
cepted, an organistship at 60 a year. At this 
place he happened to hear the famous Henry 
Clay deliver an oration, and the incident proved 
to be the turning-point of his life. 

" If Henry Clay could create such an impres 
sion by his distinct enunciation of every word, 
should it not be possible for me to make music 
the vehicle for grand thoughts and noble senti 
ments, to speak to the world through the power 
of poetry and song ? The idea gained upon 
me. I became more and more fascinated by the 


thought, not only of trying my fortune as a 
vocalist, but also of composing my own songs. 
With me at that time to devise was to act I 
commenced there and then to set to music 
Mackay's beautiful poem, ' Wind of the winter 
night, whence comest thou ?' A few days later 
I had my musical rendering of Mackay's fine 
verses all ready, and I took the first opportunity 
of playing it over to some friends. They 
applauded it, and their praise was emphatic 
enough to be sincere. This success decided 
me. From that day song composing became 
the serious object of my life. " Oh, Woodman, 
spare that tree,' ' A Life on the Ocean Wave,' 
' The Gambler's Wife/ and ' The Maniac/ were 
the songs which leapt quickest into popu 

Though not often sung nowadays, most 
people are familiar with " Woodman, Spare that 
Tree." How it came to be written is explained 
in the following letter from the author of the 
lyric, General G. P. Morris, to his friend, the 
veteran singer, Henry Russell. 

" Riding out of town a few days since in 
company with a friend who was once the ex 
pectant heir of the largest estate in America, 
but over whose worldly prospects a blight had 
recently come, he invited me to turn down a 


little romantic woodland pass not far from 
Bloomingdale. 'Your object? 5 inquired I. 
'Merely to look once more at an old tree 
planted by my grandfather, near a cottage that 
was once my father's.' 'The place is yours, 
then/ said I. ' No, my poor mother sold it ;' 
and I observed a slight quiver of the lip at the 
recollection. ' Dear mother/ resumed my com 
panion, ' we passed many happy, happy days in 
that old cottage ; but it is nothing to me now 
father, mother, sisters, cottage, all are gone !' and 
a paleness overspread his countenance, and a 
moisture came to his eyes as he spoke. After 
a moment's pause, he added, ' Don't think me 
foolish. I don't know how it is, but I never 
ride out but I turn down this lane to look at the 
old tree. I have a thousand recollections about 
it, and I always greet it as a familiar and well- 
remembered friend. In the bygone summer 
time it was a friend indeed. Under its branches 
I often listened to the good counsel of my 
parents, and had such gambols with my sisters ! 
Its leaves are all off now, so you won't see it to 
advantage, for it is a glorious old fellow in 
summer; but I like it just as well in winter. 
There it is !' 

" Near the tree stood an old man with his 
coat off, sharpening an axe. He was the occu- 


pant of the cottage. ' What are you going to 
do ?' asked my friend. ' What is that to you ?' 
was the reply. ' You are not going to cut that 
tree down, surely?' 'Yes, but I am, though/ 
said the woodman. ' What for ?' inquired my 
companion, almost choked with emotion. 
' What for ! I like that ! Well, I'll tell you 
what for. This tree makes my dwelling un 
healthy ; it stands too near the house ; prevents 
the moisture from exhaling and renders us 
liable to fever and ague!' 'Have you any 
other reason for cutting it down ?' ' Yes : I am 
getting old; the woods are a great way off, and 
this tree is of value to me to burn.' He was 
soon convinced that the story about the fever and 
the ague was a mere fiction, and then asked what 
the tree was worth as firewood. ' Why, when 
it is down, about ten dollars.' ' Suppose I should 
give you that sum, would you let it stand?' 
'Yes.' 'You are sure of that?' 'Positive.' 
' Then give me a bond to that effect/ I drew it 
up ; it was witnessed by his daughter ; the money 
was paid, and we left the place with an assur 
ance from the young girl, who looked as smiling 
and beautiful as Hebe, that the tree should 
stand as long as she lived. We returned to the 
road and pursued our ride. The circumstances 
made a strong impression on my mind, and 


furnished me with materials for the song I sent 

I give the above as I took it from an American 
paper. The truth is that Henry Russell was 
the friend, and Morris himself the man who 
had lived in the old cottage and had played 
under the tree as a child. 

General G. P. Morris, who was the writer of 
many other lyrics, died in America in 1865. 
Speaking of Henry Russell I am reminded that 
he, like most singers who have risen to emi 
nence, had his early struggles. That veteran 
song writer who composed the music to and 
sang the once universally popular song " Cheer, 
Boys, Cheer," only received three pounds for 
the copyright. He asked the publisher once 
how the song sold, and was told that nineteen 
presses could not keep pace with the demand. 
Afterwards, the publishers sent him ^10 to ease 
their consciences. How easy it must be to 
relieve some publishers' consciences! I was 
told some few years ago of a certain firm of 
publishers who secured the music and words of 
a song that was sung everywhere at the time, 
for which they gave in all 30, but which 
brought them in sufficient to buy them an 
establishment in the West End (they were in a 
very small way of business previously) and set 


them up as leading publishers. The composer 
is still writing songs. It seems the fate of 
some writers to make everybody's fortune but 
their own. 

Dr. Charles Mackay, who died on Christmas 
Eve, 1889, supplied Henry Russell with a vast 
number of lyrics, the majority of which will 
never die. " Cheer, Boys, Cheer," " There's a 
Good Time Coming," " Baby Mine," and " Eng 
land, Dear England," may be mentioned as 
some of his happiest efforts. Sir Henry Bishop 
set no less than a hundred and twenty songs 
from his pen, many of which were written 
specially for the " Illustrated London News," 
to which the doctor contributed all kinds of 
literary matter. For Dr. Mackay, besides being 
a lyric writer, was a literary man of consider 
able knowledge and ability, and acted at one 
time as sub-editor of the " Morning Chronicle." 
Indeed he secured the post when Thackeray 
was one of the applicants for the berth. Dr. 
Mackay also wrote for the "Daily News" 
under Charles Dickens and subsequent editors, 
and it was in the columns of that paper that 
" There's a Good Time Coming, Boys," was first 
printed. It was while Henry Russell was sing 
ing this song with its string of wonderful things 
to happen in the good time coming, that an 


excited listener asked Russell if it would be 
convenient for him to fix the date of that " good 

Henry Russell thus relates the the origin of 
" A Life on the Ocean Wave :" " One bright 
spring morning as Epps Sargent strolled on the 
Battery, New York, watching the ships in the 
harbour, the scene before him gave him an idea 
which he proceeded to develop. His walk and 
song were completed together, and Sargent 
went to the office of our mutual friend, George 
P. Morris, and wrote out the words. 

" ' This is not a song at all,' said Morris after 
reading it ( It will not do for music.' 

" A few days after I met Sargent and asked 
him for the song. He told me very dolefully 
what Morris had said, but I insisted on seeing 
the manuscript. We then went into a Broad 
way music store kept by a good friend, and were 
invited into a back room where there was a 
capital piano. I hummed an air or two, ran 
my fingers over the keys, then stopped feeling 
baffled ; suddenly an idea struck me, I began 
to hum a melody that seemed floating through 
my brain, and presently touching the keys with 
a confident exclamation, that bright little air 
rang out which is now so well known as 'A 
Life on the Ocean Wave.' " Speaking on 


another subject the veteran author of " Cheer, 
Boys, Cheer" says : " One summer afternoon 
when I was playing at the Presbyterian church, 
Rochester, I made a discovery. It was that 
sacred music played quickly makes the best kind 
of secular music. It was quite by accident that 
playing the ' Old Hundredth' very fast I pro 
duced the air of ' Get out o' de way Old Dan 
Tucker;' this was the first of a good many 
minstrel songs that I composed or rather 
adapted from hymn tunes played quickly. 
Among them are ' Lucy Long/ ' Ober de 
Mountain/ and ' Buffalo Gals.' " 

Leaving Henry Russell, we turn to one of 
England's great national songs, "The death 
of Nelson/' the music of which was composed 
by Braham. This was first sung in an opera 
called "The Americans/' produced in 1806. 
The words of the opera and the lyrics were by 
Samuel James Arnold, the son of Dr. Arnold, 
composer of the " Maid of the Mill" and over 
forty other operas, who died in 1802. S. J. 
Arnold's first venture was a stage version of 
" Auld Robin Gray" in 1794, when only a little 
over twenty years of age. This was followed, 
in 1795, by "Who Pays the Reckoning," "The 
Shipwreck" in 1796, "The Irish Legacy" in 
1797, " The Veteran Tar" in 1801, " Foul Deeds 


Will Rise" in 1804, and " The Americans" in 
1806, after the death of the great Nelson, which, 
as every schoolboy knows, occurred in October, 
1805, on board the " Victory." S. J. Arnold, 
who also wrote " Speed on my Bark," " The 
Parent Oak," and other lyrics, seemed to be 
very fond of sea subjects. He also appears to 
have been a very clever writer and portrait 
painter as well. He furnished surprising speci 
mens (of portrait painting) at the Royal Acad 
emy; he afterwards undertook a panorama of 
the battle of Alexandria, exhibited in i8or. 
" He seems, indeed, to possess an universal 
genius," says a writer in 1807. He married 
Miss Pye, daughter of H. J. Pye the unpoetic 
poet laureate. 

It would not be difficult to cite a number of 
instances of a song that has been sold for " a 
mere song," as the phrase is, that has after 
wards brought m thousands of pounds. For 
example, in 1859 Mr. Stephen C. Foster was in 
a piano store-room in Broadway, New York, 
where, in the presence of a few gentlemen, he 
played his charming song, "Come where my 
love lies dreaming." At the conclusion he sold 
the song for five dollars or say a guinea. Mr. 
J. C. Cussans, who told this story at a city ban 
quet in 1892, was present when the song was 


sold. Its subsequent value was enormous. As 
an instance of the price obtained for favourite 
songs even after they may reasonably be sup 
posed to have had their day, I may mention 
that the copyright of " Kathleen Mavourneen" 
not long ago was sold for 109, and "In the 
Gloaming" for 286. But there are some songs 
that are always in demand, and especially is this 
the case with those old time ballads which cele 
brated singers of the day very wisely include in 
their repertoire. 

The prolific Mrs. Crawford, who wrote so 
many popular lyrics in the forties and fifties, 
and gave us the words of the never-to-be-for 
gotten " Kathleen Mavourneen," and the charm 
ing "Ellen Astore; or The Flower of Kil 
kenny," was also the authoress of both " Rest, 
Troubled Heart," and " The Gipsy Countess," 
once so extraordinarily popular, especially the 
duet, " The Gipsy Countess," which all senti 
mental young couples used to sing two or three 
decades ago. " Rest, Troubled Heart," or, as 
it was frequently called, the " Song of Pestal," 
owed its origin to the fact that Colonel Pestal, 
at one time an officer in the Russian army, who 
was doomed to death for turning traitor to his 
country, wrote the beautiful melody to which 
the words were subsequently written, on the 



wall of his dungeon the night before his execu 
tion. This Colonel P. I. Festal was one of the 
leading Dekabrists, so called from the historical 
episodes of I4th (26th) December, 1825, when 
Pestal and a number of confederates conspired 
against Nicholas I. An insurrection of the 
troops followed in Moscow, but this was soon 
suppressed. Pestal, with five others, paid the 
last penalty of the law at daybreak on I3th 
(2$th) July, 1826, having been sentenced to 
death for high treason. One of the five executed 
was Ryleyeff, a Russian minor poet of some 
ability, whose poems are still extant and in 
print. Soon after the accession of Alexander 
II., in 1855, the surviving Dekabrists, who 
had been cast in prison, where pardoned and 

Mrs. Crawford prefaces the song with a short 
piece of ordinary verse. The lyric itself I give. 
It must be confessed that it does not possess that 
literary merit which usually marks Mrs. Craw 
ford's performances, but we must not forget that 
she lived in an age of much artificiality : 

" Rest thou troubled heart ! within this captive bosom 


Rest thou troubled heart ! no more of love or glory 
telling : 



Now no more by wrongs or tyrant power oppressed. 
From a thousand -woes, Ah ! sweet repose, 
Soon will seal these eyes in everlasting rest. 
Soon the martyr's grave will close. 

" Death approaches near ! the herald of eternal glory, 
Friends and comrades dear ! Ye long shall mourn my hap 
less story. 

Oh ! 'tis hard to part from all life's loving ties 
Hark, the midnight bell 1 'tis the soldier's knell : 
Soon to-morrow's sun, the last for me, shall rise ; 
Glory, home, and friends, farewell." . . . 

At the end of each verse the first two lines 
are repeated with the plaintive music, which 
was arranged by E. Flood. 

By the way, the melody of " Festal" was, in 
a measure, no doubt unconsciously, revived re 
cently in that ridiculous rubbish called " Ta-ra- 
ra boom-de-ay." 

" The Gypsy Countess," with music by the 
once celebrated Stephen Glover, was founded 
on an incident not without a certain amount of 
romance. The kidnapping of children was a 
regular profession amongst the gipsies at one 
time, and many a parent lived to mourn the loss 
of a favourite child stolen away by these nomads 
and alien wanderers. The story upon which the 
" Gipsy Countess" was founded and utilized in 
Mrs. Crawford's lyric is as follows : A tradition 


was current in the north of England that a young 
earl of one of the Border counties, in the course 
of his rambles, met with a beautiful gipsy girl 
whose charms made a deep and lasting im 
pression on his heart. Upon entering into con 
versation with her, he found to his surprise that 
the artless grace of her manners, and the intelli 
gence and purity of her mind, were quite equal 
to the beauty of her face and person ; and, in 
spite of the great disparity of rank, he soon 
became deeply enamoured of her. It may be 
supposed that the struggle between affection 
and p'ride was long and severe before the earl 
could make up his mind to ally himself to the 
humble object of his disinterested regard; but 
love finally triumphed. To increase, however, 
the romance of the story, it is added that the 
gipsy girl had been stolen in her infancy by one 
of the roving band with which she thus became 
associated, and that she was afterwards dis 
covered to be the daughter of a wealthy baronet. 
The pride of her lover was thus spared the 
intended sacrifice in raising the beautiful gipsy 
to the rank of a countess. 

Another, one time very popular, composition 

which was sung by all the prominent singers of 

the musical world, is " The Beating of my own 

Heart," written by the late Lord Houghton 



when he was merely Mr. R. Monckton Milnes. 
At the time of writing this lyric, Monckton 
Milnes, who had a well-deserved reputation 
as a maker of light, tuneful verse, was the guest 
of some friends in the country, and while a party 
of them went out riding and driving, the clever 
young poet elected to wander about by himself 
in the beautiful solitude of a summer day. The 
silence was intense, and only broken, as he said, 
by the beating of his own heart and the gentle 
murmur of a running stream near which he 
strayed. The phrase " the beating of my own 
heart" kept singing in his ear, and there and 
then he wrote the simple song which was 
destined, by the aid of Sir (then Professor) 
.George A. Macfarren's melody, to become so 
famous. On his return to the house he told his 
hostess what he had written, and at her request 
he read his poem to the assembled guests at the 
dinner table. Strange to say, nobody thought 
anything of the piece, and they mostly criticised 
it rather severely. However, Monckton Milnes 
had faith in his own effort, and though his friends 
declared that the lines " The beating of my own 
heart was all the sound I heard" were nonsense, 
as no man could hear his own heart beat (which, 
of course, he can, under certain conditions), he 
was able to prove his own contention right, for 
15 225 


some months afterwards it was the favourite 
song of the day. It was one of the greatest 
triumphs of the celebrated Clara Novello, who 
became the Countess Gigliucci in 1843, an ^ re ~ 
tired from the stage in 1 860. She died in the 
seventy-ninth year of her age, in the summer 
of 1896. 







A SIMPLE, homely song that is rarely heard 
now-a-days, for its novelty has long worn off, 
is " The Postman's Knock," written by L. M. 
Thornton, and composed by W. T. Wrighton, 
of drawing-room ballad composing and singing 
celebrity. "The Postman's Knock," when it 
was first published, about forty years ago, spread 
into favour at once, and was sung all over Eng 
land, because it appeared at a period when the 
" New Penny Post" of Rowland Hill had had 
time to become understanded of the people and 
to be utilized by them. And because it appealed 


to the sympathies of the majority, it remained 
quite a favourite in some parts of the country 
for more than twenty years. The words were 
written by a humble individual of small literary 
ability, who died in the Bath Workhouse, May 
8th, 1888, after a hard fight against poverty. 
It must be confessed at once there is no art 
whatever in the irregular stanzas of the song, 
but there is plenty of human nature of a kind : 

" What a wonderful man the postman is, 

As he hastens from door to door ! 
What a medley of news his hands contain, 

For high, low, rich, and poor ! 
In many a face he joy doth trace, 

In as many he gnefs can see, 
As the door is ope' d to his loud rat-tat, 
And his quack delivery. 

Every mom, as true as the clock, 
Somebody hears the postman's knock. 

" Number One he presents with the news of birth, 

With tidings of death, Number Four, 
At Thirteen a bill of a terrible length 

He drops through the hole in the door. 
A cheque or an order at Fifteen he leaves, 

And Sixteen his presence doth prove, 
While Seventeen does an acknowledgment get, 

And Eighteen a letter of love." 

Properly speaking, the love-letter should have 

been left at Seventeen, but perhaps Mr._Thornton 



was above punning. It should be remembered 
that a letter in those days was quite an event, 
for before the introduction of Sir Rowland Hill's 
"Penny Post/' letters were very expensive 
luxuries indeed. For one to receive a letter, in 
country parts, was to be converted into a kind 
of hero for the time being, and to be worshipped 
accordingly. Letters from oversea were almost 
unknown except amongst the well to do, and 
friends and relations who lived at a distance 
rarely heard of each other from one year's end 
to another. Now for the last verse : 

" May his visits be frequent to those who expect 

A line from the friends they hold dear ; 
But rarely, we hope, compelled he will be 

Disastrous tidings to bear. 
Far, far be the day when the envelope shows 

The dark border shading it o' er ; 
Then long life to Her Majesty's servant, we say, 

And oft may he knock at the door 1" 

Let us not be too captious over the poverty 
of idea here exposed, nor criticise too harshly 
the falseness of the metre and the weakness of 
the rhyme. L. M. Thornton knew his audience, 
and wrote level to them, and being of a homely 
nature himself, he knew exactly the chords he 
could play upon with the best results. Thornton 
wrote many other lyrics that were more or less 


popular as, for instance, " Pleasure," " Smiles 
and Tears," " Sing on, Sweet Bird," " Look Up," 
and the sacred songs, "As One by One our 
Friends Depart," and "Rest for the Weary," 
the music being composed by W. T. Wrighton. 
" The Postman's Knock" was so widely known 
and sung, that John Baldwin Buckstone had a 
piece written on the subject for the Haymarket 
Theatre. On April loth, 1856, he produced a 
musical farce, concocted by L. M. Thornton, 
of which the " Illustrated London News," of 
April 1 9th of the same year, says: "A new 
farce, called ' The Postman's Knock,' somewhat 
rudely constructed, for the apparent purpose of 
introducing the song so named, has been pro 
duced at this (Haymarket) Theatre. The song 
itself is well sung by Mr. Farren ; and the piece 
aided by his talent, and that of Miss Lavine and 
Miss Schott, who also sing a ballad or two each, 
has been favourably received." The programme 
for the week at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 
is worth giving : " Monday, April 7, and during 
the week, the new and successful comedy, ' The 
Evil Genius ,' after which the renowned Spanish 
Dancer, Perea Nena, who, with Manuel Perez 
and a New Company, will appear in the New 
Ballet-Pantomime of ' El Gambusino ; or, The 
Mexican Gold-Digger,' after which, on Monday, 


Tuesday, and Wednesday, for the Last Three 
Nights, ' Lend Me Five Shillings' (Buckstone 
as Golightly) ; on Thursday a New Farce called 
' The Postman's Knock.' " But the piece was 
first tried at the Surrey Theatre on the 7th of 
the same month with Phelps and Vollaire in 
the cast. 

Lewis Maunsell Thornton was born at Ox 
ford, 1822. He was a simple versifier all his 
life, and in later times lived largely on the 
reputation of his one song. He used to tramp 
about the country selling a volume of his own 
lyrics, and by this means and by occasionally 
getting a guinea or so for a ballad, he managed 
to exist. His book was called "The Poetic 
Gift of Friendship." His last successful song 
was " Sing, Birdie, Sing." Thornton died in 
the infirmary of the Bath Union, whence he had 
been conveyed from the hospital after a painful 
operation. He had few friends, but certainly a 
good one in Mr Jones-Hunt (generally known 
as the Bath poet), who did much to assist 
Thornton in many ways. It is interesting to 
add that the author of " The Postman's Knock" 
was carried to the grave by four postmen in 
uniform, while four others acted as pall-bearers, 
out of pure sympathy and kindness of heart. Mr. 
Jones-Hunt generously attended to the funeral 


expenses. Thornton's remains lie in the quiet 
God's Acre of Walcot Wesleyan Chapel, Bath. 
The' song known as "Rousseau's Dream" is 
extracted, as far as the air goes, from Jean 
Jacques Rousseau's opera, " Le Devin du 
Village," which was produced in 1752. In the 
original it is a pantomime tune, without words, 
and the name of " Rousseau's Dream" was first 
given to it in print by J. B. Cramer. The 
English words, " Now, while eve's soft shadows 
blending" were written to the melody by 
William Ball. Some organists of the Church 
of England (acting upon the old Puritan prin 
ciple of "not letting the devil have all the 
pretty tunes") occasionally employ it as a psalm 
or hymn tune. In this connection of thought a 
quotation from Chappell's " Popular Music of 
the Olden Time" will come in apropos. " Some 
writers have asserted that the popular tunes of 
different countries sprang from the church ; but 
this is mere assertion, without one atom of 
proof. The better feelings of man have ever 
revolted at such appropriations. To sing them 
would have been thought the extreme of ribaldry. 
On the contrary, in all countries, the case has 
been reversed. In the Vatican Library at 
Rome there are now eighty volumes of masses 
constructed upon popular tunes by composers of 


various nations. Our Scottish, brethren have 
their 'Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual 
Songs, turned out of Profane Ballads,' and 
curiously enough, these are chiefly parodies 
upon English songs, such as ' John, come kiss 
me now/ and sung to English tunes. The 
custom of singing ' psalms to hornpipes' has not 
died away even yet, for we may still point to 
instances whichever way we turn, and whether 
at home or abroad." Mr. Chappell was not 
quite right in his assertions. A goodly number 
of hymn tunes have been converted to the uses 
of secular words and entertainments. The 
Salvation Army almost invariably sing their 
hymns to good old English secular melodies. 

In the Protestant church the "Old Hun 
dredth" possesses more than a historical interest. 
Originally it was composed to the I34th Psalm 
in the Geneva Psalter, and afterwards used by 
English Protestants to the icoth about 1562. 


The name of the composer has never been 
satisfactorily decided. It has, on the word of 
Handel, been ascribed to Luther and then to 
Claude Gondimel, "a fine composer, assas 
sinated at Lyons during the massacres of 
St. Bartholomew ;" but now it seems to have 
been ascertained with tolerable certainty that 
Guillaume le Franc, a musician of Rouen, either 


composed the melody or compiled it from the 
Roman chants. I fancy, however, that before 
Le Franc's time the melody was sung to some 
very amorous words ; and it is notorious that 
the queen of Henry II. used to divert her royal 
consort by singing her favourite psalm, "Rebuke 
me not in Thine indignation" to a fashionable 
jig ! Though this psalm does not possess the 
fervour of "A mighty fortress is our God," it 
breathes an air of majestic animation that 
accounts for its popularity in the church ser 
vice. Haydn heard it in London sung by a 
chorus of many thousand voices, and was 
greatly affected. Berlioz, after hearing it per 
formed at St. Paul's Cathedral by some six 
thousand charity children, wrote : " It would be 
useless to attempt to give any idea of such a 
musical effect. It was more powerful, more 
beautiful, than all the exultant vocal masses 
you ever heard, in the same proportion that St. 
Paul's is larger than a village church, and even 
a hundred times more than that. I may add 
that this choral, of long notes and of noble 
character, is sustained by superb harmony, 
which the organ inundated, without submerging 
it." For some time it was known as the 

It has happened time and again that many an 


old hymn has been saved from utter oblivion by 
the fortunate circumstance of inspiring some 
modern writer to compose a fresh lyric in place 
of the crude and often coarse original words. 
But the oddest part about these rescued and 
world-wide popular pieces is that in the large 
majority of cases the authors have written one 
good piece and nothing more. There is, for 
instance, that Sunday-school hymn, " There is a 
Happy Land." Who has ever heard anything 
of the author, Andrew Young? You may 
search for his name amongst books of minor 
verse in vain, and yet for quite half a century 
Mr. Andrew Young has exercised a far wider 
influence upon his race than many whom the 
world considers its benefactors and greatest 
men. According to a newspaper account in 
1889 (when Mr. Young was alive and over 
eighty years old) the origin of the hymn was 
occasioned by Mr. Young's hearing a tune 
played in a drawing-room. It is said that the 
melody in question was " an old Indian air, 
which has blended with the music of the woods 
of the primeval forest." It is just possible that 
the air had nothing to do with Indians at all. 
But what matters ? It haunted the future 
author of the children's hymn and possibly, in 
sheer desperation, Mr. Young sat down and 


clothed the melody with words which resolved 
themselves into the lines, 

" There is a happy land, 

Far, far away, 
Where saints in glory stand, 
Bright, bright as day 1" 

For long the sacred song was only sung in Mr. 
Young's family, but the chance visit of a music 
publisher soon made it known to all and every 
through the medium of the engraver. The 
growth and popularity of these simple airs with 
their simple words are beyond the ken of mortal 
man to discover. We have it on the authority 
of Professor Mason that Thackeray was " walk 
ing one day in a ' slum' district of London when 
he suddenly came upon a band of gutter children 
sitting on the pavement. They were singing. 
Drawing nearer he heard the words, ' There is a 
happy land, Far far away.' As he looked at the 
ragged choristers and their squalid surround 
ings, and saw that their pale faces were lit up with 
a thought that brought both forgetfulness and 
hope, the tender-hearted cynic burst into tears." 
This is a very pretty story as it stands, but why 
always call the author of" Vanity Fair" a cynic ? 
A cynic is a man who puts himself outside the 
world and then tries to mingle in it. Thackeray 


was a genius, and of course one must call him 
something; what right has a man to possess 
what you don't ? 

Fame seems a very capricious sort of thing 
to achieve, and while many strive with the 
weightiest works for the benefit of their kind, a 
small thing like Mrs. Brewer's 

" Little drops of water, 

Little grains of sand, 
Make the mighty ocean 
And the beautious land." 

secures at once to its incubator a popularity and 
audience amongst all the world's millions of 
English speaking people ! And the best of it 
is that it does not boast one spark of originality, 
Shakespeare having long ago given us the same 
idea in beautiful language, which has been imi 
tated by hundreds of poets since. As a child's 
song, however, it is not easily matched. The 
authoress, Mrs. Brewer, does not appear to have 
written anything else. 

That "pious" song, "The Vicar of Bray," 
written about 1720, to an older air, called " The 
Country Garden" (1690), was occasioned by the 
following circumstances. The Vicar of Bray, in 
Berkshire, was a papist under the reign of 
Henry VIII., and a protestant under Edward 


VI. ; he was a papist again under Mary, and 
once more became a protestant in the reign of 
Elizabeth, When this scandal to the cloth was 
reproached for his versatility of religious creeds, 
and taxed for being a turncoat (he had seen 
some martyrs burned at Windsor and doubtless 
found the fire too hot for his tender temper) and 
an inconstant changeling, as worthy old Fuller 
expresses it, he replied, " Not so, neither ; for 
if I changed my religion, I am sure I kept true 
to my principle : which is, to live and die the 
Vicar of Bray !" This vivacious and reverend 
hero gave birth to a sort of proverb peculiar to 
the county of Berkshire, " The Vicar of Bray 
will be Vicar of Bray still." But how has it 
happened, demands D'Israeli in his " Curiosi 
ties of Literature," that this vicar should be so 
notorious, and one in much higher rank, acting 
the same part, should have escaped notice ? 
Dr. Kitchen, Bishop of LandafT, an idle abbot 
under Henry VIIL, was made a busy bishop ; 
protestant under Edward, he returned to his old 
master under Mary ; and at last took the oath 
of supremacy under Elizabeth, and finished as 
a parliament protestant. A pun spread the 
odium of his name ; for they said that he had 
always loved the Kitchen better than the Church^ 
The song was doubtless a general satire on the 


numerous church renegades, and especially of 
one who lived in the reigns of Charles II., 
James II., William III., and George I. The 
words were by an officer in Colonel Fuller's 
regiment. The original vicar is believed to 
have been Simon Aleyn; though Ray gives 
the honour to an " independent" named Simon 

Of that absure song, " Lilliburlero," Dr. Percy 
says, in his " Reliques of Ancient Poetry :" " The 
following rhymes, slight and insignificant as they 
may now seem, had once a most powerful effect 
and contributed not a little towards the great 
revolution in 1688." " Burnet says," he con 
tinues, " a foolish ballad was made at that time 
treating the papists, and chiefly the Irish, in a 
very ridiculous manner, which had a burden 
said to be Irish words, ' Lero, lero, lilliburlero' 
that made an impression on the (King's) army 
that cannot be imagined by those that saw it not. 
The whole army, and at last the people, both in 
city and country, were singing it perpetually. 
And perhaps never had so slight a thing so 
great an effect." 

It was written, or at least published, on the 
Earl of Tyrconnel's going a second time to 
Ireland, in October, 1688. The ridiculous bur 
den is said to date from 1641. The words are 


simply trash, but it was Lord Wharton's boast 
that he drove James II. from the throne with 
a few verses and a tune. Though the words 
were by Lord Wharton, the melody was com 
posed by Henry Purcell, and it was almost 
entirely owing to the catching refrain that the 
song was sung at all. This quaint march and 
quick step was originally printed in " The De 
lightful Conpanion: or, Choice New Lessons 
for the Recorder or Flute," 1686, a very rare and 
scarce work indeed. " Perhaps," says Percy, " it 
is unnecessary to mention that General Richard 
Talbot, newly created Earl of Tyrconnel, had 
been nominated by King James II. to the lieu 
tenancy of Ireland, in 1686, on account of his 
being a furious papist, who had recommended 
himself to his master by his arbitrary treatment 
of the protestants in the preceding year, when 
only lieutenant-general, and whose subsequent 
conduct fully justified his expectations and their 

I give the first verse as a curiosity, notwith 
standing its lack of merit. 

" Ho, broder Teague, dost hear de decree? 

Lilli burlero bullen a la ' 
Dat we shall have a new deputie, 

Lilli burlero bullen a la ! 
Lero ' lero ! lilli burlero, lero lero, bullen a la, 
Lero ! lero ! lilli burlero, lero lero, bullen a la !" 


The wild Lilliburlero chorus comes in at the 
end of each verse as indicated in the first. It 
would be curious to know what language Lord 
Wharton thought he was imitating when he 
wrote this gibberish. It achieved its aim, 
anyhow, says a chronicler of the period. " A 
late Viceroy, who has so often boasted himself 
upon his talent for mischief, invention and lying, 
and for making a certain Lilliburlero song ; with 
which, if you will believe himself, he sung a de 
luded prince out of three kingdoms." Through 
the storm of this doggerel as an expression of 
popular dislike and distrust fell the Stuart dy 
nasty notwithstanding their strenuous efforts to 
suppress printer's ink and frantic wit. But poli 
tically speaking, a mere song has proved the 
ruin of empires and the slaughter of opposing 
millions time and again. And it can only be 
accounted for by the fact that the populace and 
the army will feed on anything that tickles their 
humour and fires their imagination. 

Thenceforward " Lilliburlero" became a party 
tune in Ireland, " especially after * Dublin's de 
liverance ; or the Surrender of Drogheda/ and 
' Undaunted Londonderry,' " appropriate words 
being written to the jingle and sung throughout 
the land. It has now fallen into disuse. Shad- 
well and Vanbrugh and other dramatists fre- 
16 241 


quently refer to the tune in their plays ; Sterne 
also mentions it in "Tristam Shandy." Purcel 
makes use of it again in his " Gordian Knot 
Unty'd," but it only lives now in the old nur 
sery rhyme : 

" There was an old woman toss'd up in a blanket 
Ninety-nine times as high as the moon." 

and in the convivial chorus : 

" A very good song, and very well sung, 
Jolly companions every one." 

which seems to be the inevitable fate of many 
martial strains ! 

Though Lord Wharton is generally believed 
to have written " Lilliburlero" this is not certain, 
it never having been conclusively proved. Dr. 
Charles Mackay identified the refrain as part of 
a solar hymn, astronomical and druidical, reading 
it thus: "Li! li! Beur! lear-a! Buillenala!" 
i.e., " Light ! light on the sea beyond the pro 
montory! Tis the stroke (or dawn) of the 
morning." The author of the "Irish Hudi- 
bras" is said to have had something to do with 
the composition of the words. 

But let us turn our attention to other wares. 
Thomas Campbell's " Ye Mariners of England," 
which I briefly referred to in a previous chapter, 


was partly inspired by the melody of Martyn 
Parker's "Ye Gentlemen of England" (date 
about 1630). Mrs. Ireland, who saw much of 
Campbell at this time (1799) says, that it 
was in the musical evenings at her mother's 
house, that he appeared to derive the greatest 
enjoyment. At these soirees his favourite song- 
was "Ye Gentlemen of England," with the 
music of which he was particularly struck, and 
determined to write new words to it. Hence 
this noble and stirring lyric, " Ye Mariners of 
England," part of which, if not all, he is believed 
to have composed after one of these family 
parties. It was not, however, until after he 
had retired to Ratisbon, and. felt his patriotism 
kindled by the announcement of war with Den 
mark, that he finished the original sketch and 
sent it home to Mr. Perry of the " Morning 
Chronicle" (see Dr. Beattie's " Life of Thomas 

So much esoteric fun has been made out of 
Longfellow's allegorical lyric " Excelsior," that I 
think a word or two on its upspringing may be 
appropriate. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes terms 
it " a trumpet call to the energies of youth." 
Longfellow, it appears, one day came across 
part of the heading of a New York newspaper, 
bearing the seal of the State of New York, a 


shield with a rising sun and the motto in heraldic 
Latin, "Excelsior." His imagination was at 
once fired with the picture of the youth climbing 
up the Alps, and bearing in his hand the magic 
banner " with the strange device" of Upward 
Hope. This the poet decided upon as the 
symbol of youth ever anxious to press forward 
to attain higher and nobler things, and though 
he succeed not in this world, he is rewarded for 
the attempt in the next. 

The Latin title was the subject of criticism 
both before and after publication, many thinking 
that it should be Excelsius, or Ad Excelsiors. 
Longfellow explained that he took the word 
from " Scopus meus excelsior est," " my goal is 

Unfortunately when the poem appeared it was 
execrably illustrated and brought down much 
ridicule upon the poet and set the parodists to 
work. For it is easier to parody an allegory 
with some folk than to understand it. One 
of the most successful musical settings of 
"Excelsior" was by Stephen Glover (1812- 

The following letters fully explain Long 
fellow's own meaning in regard to the poem. 
The first was written long ago to the Hon. C. 
K. Tuckerman, the second is dated 1874. 


" MY DEAR SIR, I have had the pleasure of 
receiving your note in regard to the poem ' Ex 
celsior/ and very willingly give you my inten 
tion in writing it. This was no more than to 
display, in a series of pictures, the life of a man 
of genius, resisting all temptations, laying aside 
all fears, heedless of all warnings, and pressing 
right on to accomplish his purpose. His motto 
is, Excelsior ' Higher.' He passes through 
the Alpine village through the rough, cold 
paths of the world where the peasants cannot 
understand him, and where his watchword is 
an ' unknown tongue.' He disregards the hap 
piness of domestic peace, and sees the glaciers 
his fate before him. He disregards the 
warnings of the old man's wisdom and the 
fascinations of woman's love. He answers to 
all, ' Higher yet 1' The monks of St. Bernard are 
the representatives of religious forms and cere 
monies, and with their oft-repeated prayer min 
gles the sound of his voice, telling them there 
is something higher than forms and ceremonies. 
Filled with these aspirations, he perishes ; and 
the voice heard in the air is the promise of 
immortality and progress ever upward. You 
will perceive that 'Excelsior,' an^j^ljective of 
the comparative degree, is used adverbially ; a 
use justified by the best Latin writers." 


His next epistle explains the use of the word 
" Excelsior," which critics said ought to have 
been " Excelsius." It was addressed to Signor 

" CAMBRIDGE, Feb. 5, 1874. 

" MY DEAR Sm, I have had the pleasure of 
receiving your card with your friendly criticism 
on the word ' Excelsior.' In reply I would say, 
by way of explanation, that the device on the 
banner is not to be interpreted ' Ascende Su- 
perius,' but ' Scopus meus excelsior est' 

" This will make evident why I say ' Excel 
sior/ and not ' Excelsius.' With great regard, 

yours truly, 


" The original time-piece immortalized in the 
" Old Clock on the Stairs," stood in the hall of 
an old-fashioned country seat surrounded by 
poplars, and belonging to some of Mrs. Long 
fellow's relatives. The following entry appears 
in the poet's journal, in November, 1845 : 

" Began a poem on a clock, with the words, 
' For ever, never/ as the burden, suggested by 
the words of Bridaine, the old French mis 
sionary, who said of eternity : ' Cest une pen- 
dule dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces 
deux mots seulement dans le silence des tom- 


beaux Toujours, jamais! Jamais, toujours! 
Et pendant ces effroyables revolutions, un re- 
prouve s'ecrie, Quelle heure est-il ? et la voix 
d'un autre miserable lui repond, "L'Eter- 

^, The " Village Blacksmith" was written when 
he was at Cambridge, where the particular black 
smith's smithy and spreading chestnut tree stood. 
1 879 the children of Cambridge presented the 
et with an easy chair made out of the wood of 
-1 is tree. Longfellow's great-grandfather, by 
ihj way, was a blacksmith, and opposite the 
house at Gorham stood a blacksmith's shop 
where the horses were shod, and where the 
future poet as a child often played. In writing 
to his father about the lyric, he alludes to it " as 
a kind of ballad on a blacksmith which you 
may consider, if you please, as a song in praise 
of your ancestor at Newbury." The song was 
set to music by W. H. Weiss the great singer, 
find made an instantaneous success. W. H. 
Weiss, who held a high position in the English 
operatic world, was born 1820, and died 1867. 
A musical play by E. C. D unbar, called " The 
Merry Blacksmith," founded on the song, was 
produced at the Vaudeville Theatre, September 
23rd, 1893.