Harold Simpson.

A century of ballads, 1810-1910; their composers and singers, with some introductory chapters on Old Ballads and Ballad-makers. online

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A CENTURY OF BALLADS

181C5-1910



MILLS & BOON^S

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Facsimile Page of "Summer is icumen in
From Harl. MSS. 978.



A CENTURY OF
BALLADS

1810-1910

THEIR COMPOSERS AND SINGERS



WITH SOME INTRODUCTORY CHAPTERS ON
"OLD BALLADS AND BALLAD-MAKERS"



BY

HAROLD SIMPSON



" I know a very wise man that believed that if a man were permitted to make
all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation."

Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun.



ILLUSTRATED



MILLS & BOON, LIMITED

49 RUPERT STREET

LONDON, W.



/



Published jgio






PREFACE

nr^HIS is a story of popular song — nothing

-■- more. It does not aim at being either

critical or instructive, but only entertaining.

My grateful thanks are due to all those —

composers, singers, authors, publishers — who

have so generously responded to my appeals

for assistance in my endeavour to effect the

object I had in view.

H. S.



AUTHOR'S NOTE

T N dealing with the earlier and more historical
-■- portion of this book, I have consulted,
principally, the following works : Grove's Dic-
tionary of Music ^ Chappell's Old English
Popular Music ^ Alfred Edward Moffat and
Frank Kidson's The Minstrelsy of England^
Rev. S. Baring-Gould's English Minstrelsie^
and Edmonstoune Duncan's The Story of Min-
strelsy.

My acknowledgments are also due to the
authors and publishers of the following books :
Antoinette Sterling and Other Celebrities^ M.
Sterling Mackinlay, Hutchinson and Co. ; Re-
miniscences of my Life, Sir Charles Santley, Sir
Isaac Pitman and Sons ; The Life of Sterndale
Bennett, J. R. Sterndale Bennett, Cambridge
University Press ; Sir Arthur Sullivan, Arthur
Lawrence, James Bowden.

For permission to use the facsimile of Sir
William Sterndale Bennett's **Sing, Maiden,



viii AUTHOR'S NOTE

Sing" my thanks are due to Mr. J. R. Sterndale
Bennett and Messrs. Novello and Co. ; for that
of Gounod's *^ Salve Regina " to Messrs. Phillips
and Page ; for the facsimile letters from Gounod,
Gladstone and Swinburne to Mr. Fred. E.
Weatherly ; for the caricature of Hatton to Mr.
Charles Lyall and the Musical Times^ and for
the Hatton letter to Mr. D. Hatch.



CONTENTS



PART I

CHAPTER PAGE

I. The Evolution of the Ballad . . .3

II. Ballads of the Seventeenth Century. . 22

III. Ballad Operas and Eighteenth -century

Ballads . . ... 34

IV. Concerts and Concert Singers of the Period 55

PART II

I. Some Early Nineteenth-century Ballads . 71

II. Bishop and "Home, Sweet Home" . . 88

III. Benedict and Balfe . . . . 99

IV. Sterndale Bennett, Hullah, and Hatton . 115
V. The Songs of Henry Russell . .129

VI. The Ballad Fifty Years Ago . -138

VII. Sullivan and *'The Lost Chord" . . 149

VIII. Some Composers of Sullivan's Day . . 160

IX. An Harmonious Quartet . . . 187

X. The St. James's Hall Ballad Concerts . 212

XI. Plunket Greene and Stanford's Irish Songs 237



XII. Songs of To-day and Yesterday



XIII. Some Modern Ballads and their Composers 270



XIV. The Song-Cycle and the Short Song
XV. Some Present-day Women Composers
XVI. The Light Humour Ballad
General Index
Index to Ballads and Songs
ix



248



289

305

327

339



I



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Facsimile page of **Sumer is icumen in"

L. Hatton to



Frontispiece
Facing page



Characteristic Letter from J
Musical Friend

Madame Albani

Mr. Wilhelm Ganz .

Sir Charles Santley

Mr. Henry Bird

Facsimile page of Original MS. of Sterndale

Bennett's ** Sing, Maiden, Sing"
Jack Hatton (a Caricature Sketch by Charles Lyall)
Mr. Edward German
Mr. Harold Boulton

Sir F. Paolo Tosti . . . .

SiG. Tito Mattei . . . .

Mr. a. H. Behrend . . . .

Mr. D'Auvergne Barnard

Facsimile first page of Gounod's ** Salve Regina
Dr. F. H. Cowen ....
Mr. J. L. RoECKEL . . . .

Mr. Stephen Adams . . . .

Mr. Fred. E. Weatherly
Madame Clara Butt
Mr. Kennerley Rumford
Mr. Ben Davies . . . •



71

94

94

105

105

117
127
140
140
152
152
164
164

183
187
187
193
193
216
216
225



Xll



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Facing



Madame Ada Crossley

Sir Charles Stanford

Mr. Plunket Greene

Sir Edward Elgar .

Dr. R. Vaughan Williams

Mr. Hermann Lohr .

Mr. Herbert Bunning

Mr. Lawrence Kellie

Mr. Leslie Stuart .

Mr. W. H. Squire .

Mr. H. Trotere

Mr. Clifton Bingham

Mr. Edwin Greene .

Mr. Landon Ronald

Mr. Edward Teschemacher

Mr. Frank Lambert

Mr. Noel Johnson .

Mr. Charles Willeby

Madame Liza Lehmann

Miss Frances Allitsen

Miss Florence Aylward

Miss Teresa del Riego

Madame Guy d'Hardelot

Mrs. Amy Woodforde-Finden

Miss Dorothy Forster

Madame Marie Horne

Madame Emilie Clarke



PART I
INTRODUCTORY



**OLD BALLADS AND BALLAD-MAKERS "



A CENTURY OF BALLADS

181O-I9IO

CHAPTER I
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD

WHAT is a ballad? Nowadays the name
is used to describe any type of ^^ popular '*
song, irrespective of its length, its subject, or
its musical treatment. In olden times the word
has had various meanings, but the distinction
between a ballad and a song has never been very
strongly marked. ** A song and a ballad," says
a writer of an introduction to the Book of
English Songs, published in 1851, **have points
of resemblance and difference. A ballad, which
at present seems to signify a song wherein a
story is told, originally meant a short or even
a long poem, modulated in the recital to serve
as a musical accompaniment to a dance, from
ballarej to dance. A song strictly should ex-
press sentiment only, but the distinction has
often been disregarded. A ballad is allowed
more licence than a song, and can be any length ;



Ui>?C^'^f ^Jgientury of ballads

a song should be short and terse, and each verse
exactly alike in rhythm."

This explanation does not help us much. But
it bears witness to one fact, namely, that origin-
ally a ballad was not a love song at all, or very
seldom. This distinction, which indeed hardly
exists to-day, it would be impossible to retain
for the purposes of this book, and in dealing
with the ballads of the last century or so I
shall treat the word as signifying any song
of whatever nature or sentiment that is of a
popular type.

But in taking a bird's-eye view of the history
and gradual evolution of English songs and
ballads it will be necessary to refer to the older
and distinctive meanings of the word ballad,
which had in earlier days a certain significance.
The connection of ballads and dance tunes, as
signified by the derivation of ballad from the
Italian ballata^ a dance, which is again derived
from ballare, to dance, has been mentioned by
the writer quoted above, and must be taken into
consideration as being one of the many uses to
which the word *^ ballad" has been put at
various stages of its history. Morley in his
Plaine and easie introduction to Practicall
Musicke, published in 1597, says: *^ There is
another kind — more light than this [the Vilanelle]
which they tearm Ballete or daunces, and are songs



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 5

which being sung to a dittie may likewise be
danced, these and other light kinds of musicke
are by a general name called aires." **Such
were the songs," remarks Mr. W. H. Cummings
in Grovey **to which Bonny Boots, a well-
known singer and dancer of Elizabeth s Court,
both 'tooted it' and * footed it.'" A further
reference is found in Butler's The Principles of
Musicke y published in 1636, in which the author
speaks of ''the infinite number of Ballads set to
sundry pleasant and delightful tunes by amusing
and witty composers, with country dances fitted
unto them."

It seems an established fact that the words of
many old songs were written to popular dance
tunes, and that the custom was in country
villages to dance and sing them at the same
time. Dancing in those days was a more stately
and deliberate affair than it is in modern times, so
that the feat is not so difficult a one as it might
appear. The tunes of a number of these old
Country Dances have been preserved, and in
many cases the words also. A collection of
them was published in 1686, under the title of
The Dancing Master^ from which I take the
following description of "Joan Sanderson or
The Cushion Dance," a very popular ballad
dance with the country lads and lasses of the
period.



6 A CENTURY OF BALLADS

^'This dance is begun by a single person
(either man or woman), who taking a cushion
in hand, dances about the room, and at the end
of the tune stops and sings, ' This dance it will
no further go.' The musician answers, * I pray
you, good sir, why say you so ? ' Man : ^ Because
Joan Sanderson will not come too. ' Musician :
*She must come too, and she shall come too,
and she must come whether she will or no.'
Then the man lays down the cushion before the
woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her,
singing, ^ Welcome, Joan Sanderson, welcome,
welcome.' Then she rises, takes up the cushion,
and both dance, singing, * Prinkum-prankum is a
fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again,
once again, and once again, and shall we go
dance it once again?' Then, making a stop, the
wo77ian sings as before, *This dance it will no
further go.' Musician: *I pray you, madam,
why say you so ? ' Woman : * Because John
Sanderson will not come too.' Musician: ^ He
must come too, and he shall come too, and he
must come whether he will or no.' And so she
lays down the cushion before a man, who, kneel-
ing upon it, salutes her, she singing, ^ Welcome,
John Sanderson, welcome, welcome.' Then he
taking up the cushion, they take hands, and
dance round singing as before. And thus they
do till the whole company are taken into the



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 7

ring ; and if there is company enough, make
a little ring in its middle, and within that ring
set a chair, and lay the cushion in it, and the
first man set in it. Then the cushion is laid
before the first man, the woman singing, * This
dance it will no further go ' ; and as before, only
instead of * Come too ' they sing * Go fro * ;
and instead of * Welcome, John Sanderson,'
they sing * Farewell, John Sanderson, farewell,
farewell,' and so they go out, one by one, as
they came in. Note. — The women are kissed by
all the men in the ring at their coming and going
out, and likewise the men by all the women."

It will be noticed that there is a good deal of
indiscriminate kissing connected with the per-
formance of this dance ; and this seems to have
been a feature of many of these old ballad
dances, which may possibly have something to
do with their popularity.

But it is more than probable, in spite of its
derivation, that this meaning of the word ballad
was a later interpolation. \ The old English
ballads were for the most part long pieces of
narrative verse, generally followed by an envoi
or moral, such as the famous ** Chevy Chase"
and the *^ Battle of Otterburn." The first pur-
veyors of ballads in England were the Bards, who
held an important place in popular estimation
before the Norman Conquest. These ballads



8 A CENTURY OF BALLADS

were transmitted orally from father to son for
centuries. With the advent of Christianity the
authority of the Bards, who were formerly treated
as sacred persons, soon dwindled, and gradually
they came to be known as Gleemen or Harpers.

With the Norman Conquest came the French
Troubadours, or Minstrels, who also sang to the
harp, and the old name of Gleemen was presently
forgotten. Minstrelsy flourished greatly in the
reign of Richard I (i 189), and the old story of that
monarch's release from captivity by his favourite
minstrel Blondel is too well known to repeat
here.

Music, in fact, seems to have played a large
part in the lives of the people from the earliest
times. *^ Songs and Ballads," says Sir John
Hawkins in his History of Music, ^^with easy
tunes adapted to them, must at all times have
been the entertainment, not only of the common
people, but of the better sort ; and these must
have been of various kinds, satirical, humorous,
moral, and amorous." Every trade and every
form of amusement or sport had its song ; love,
war, the dangers of the sea, the delights of
country life, all and each were represented in
song. At first they were handed down by tradi-
tion ; but later, when the art of printing became
known, the popular ballads of the day were
hawked up and down the country by itinerant



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 9

pedlars, who frequently sang them first and sold
them afterwards.

The earliest known example of an old English
popular song or ballad which has come down to
us is the now famous Rota, or endless canon,
**Sumer is icumen in." This dates in all proba-
bility from about the year 1240, and contains the
earliest known example of canon, and of per-
sistently repeated bass/ Its antiquity, if nothing
else, makes it sufficiently interesting for me to
quote the words here.

Original words.

Sumer is icumen in,

Lhude sing Cuccu,
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springth the wde nu,
Sing Cuccu.

Awe bleteth after lomb,

Lhouth after calve cu ;
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,i

Murie sing Cuccu,

Cuccu, cuccu.

Wei singers thu Cuccu

Ne swik thu naver nu.

Words modernized.

Summer is come in.

Loud sing, Cuckoo !
Groweth seed and bloweth mead
And spring'th the wood now ;
Sing Cuckoo.

^ i.e. frequents the green fern.



lo A CENTURY OF BALLADS

Ewe bleateth after lamb,
Loweth after calf [the] cow ;

Bullock starteth, buck verteth,
Merry sing, Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo !

Well singst thou, Cuckoo,

Nor cease thou never now.

The next ballad which claims our attention is
the Song of Agincourt, dating from Henry V's
reign. *'When the King entered the City of
London in triumph after the battle," says Chap-
pell, ^'the gates and streets were hung with
tapestry representing the histories of ancient
heroes ; and boys with pleasing voices were
placed in artificial turrets, singing verses in his
praise. But Henry ordered this part of the
pageantry to cease, and commanded that for the
future no Mitties should be made or sung by
minstrels or others ' in praise of the victory as
his : * for that he would whollie have the praise
and thankes altogether given to God. ' " The Song
of Agincourt appeared soon afterwards, and was
a favourite piece with the minstrels of the day.

It begins

Deo gracias, Anglia,
Redde pro victoria :

" Return thanks, O England, to God for the
victory," thus conforming, in the letter at any
rate, to the King's injunctions.

Another ballad which in all probability dates



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD ii

from this reign, or even a little earlier, is the
famous **John Dory," though no version of the
tune seems to be known as existing before 1600.
Carew, in his Survey of Cormvall^ published in
1602, says : **The prowess of one Nicholas, son
to a widow near Foy, is descanted upon in an old
three-man's song, namely, how he fought bravely
at sea with one John Dory (a Genowey as I con-
jecture) set forth by John, the French King, and
after much blood shed on both sides, took and
slew him." It may be noted in passing that the
old songs were always written for three or more
voices, and hence came to be known as ^* three-
man's songs," often corrupted into ^* freeman's
songs."

This old ballad of *^John Dory" was still
well known and popular in Charles II's reign.
Dryden refers to it in one of his lampoons as
follows : —

But Sunderland, Godolphin, Lory,
These will appear such chits in story,

'Twill turn all politics to jests,
To be repeated like John Dory

When fiddlers sing at feasts.

Before his death Henry V granted an annuity
of a hundred shillings to each of his minstrels,
and the grant was confirmed in the reign of his
son Henry VI.

From the latter's reign probably date ^^ Nowell,



12 A CENTURY OF BALLADS

Nowell," and the still more famous *^ Heave and
ho Rumbelow."

Heave and ho rumbelow,
Row the boat, Norman row,
Row to the haven.

Norman was Mayor of London in this reign,
and Ritson in his Ancient Songs and Ballads^
quoting the historian Fabian, gives the following
account of the song, the authorship of which is
credited to the Thames watermen : —

**John Norman, Mayre of London, upon the
morrowe of Symon and Judes daye, the accus-
tomed daye when the new mayre used yearly to
ryde with great pompe to Westminster to take
his charge, this mayre, first of all mayres, brake
that ancient and olde continued custom, and was
rowed thyther by water, for the which the water-
men made of hym a roundell or song to hys great
prayse, the which began," etc. Playford after-
wards substituted ^^ Whittington " for ** Norman."
It is interesting to note that DTsraeli, in his Curi-
osities of Literature^ mentions hearing the sailors
at Newcastle, when heaving anchors, singing
** Heave and ho ! rumbelow ! "

Skelton, in his poem **Bowge of Court," has
a reference to this old ballad.

His throat was clear, and lustily could feign.
And ever he sang, sith I am nothing plain
To keep him from piking it was a great pain :



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 13

Hold up the helm, look up, and let God steer !
I would be merry, what wind that ever blow :
Heave and ho ! rumbelow, row the boat, Norman, row.

With regard to ^^Nowell," a Christmas Carol,
there appear to have been two versions of the
words, sacred and secular, an arrangement which
was apparently quite common in those days.

From about this period dates the old ballad of
^^ Chevy Chase," which was above all the ballad
of the English people, and was set to many
different airs. It was originally sung to the tune
of **When Flying Fame," and later to that of
*^The Two Children in the Wood."

There is little further to record in the way of
ballads till we come to the reign of Henry VIII,
under whose patronage music flourished abun-
dantly. Henry was passionately devoted to the
art, and no mean performer on the lute and
virginals, besides being a composer of some dis-
tinction. It was during his reign that the word
* ^ballad" (or ^^ballet," as it was then often written)
came into general use as a name for narrative
pieces in rhyme set to music, and indeed for
songs of all kinds. In this reign, too, the first
song-book was printed in England, in 1530, by
Wynken de Worde. This book contained nine
songs, but gave the bass part only of the songs.
Of Henry's own compositions the best remem-
bered is his '* Pastime with good company," also



14 A CENTURY OF BALLADS

known as ^^The Kynges Ballad." Another
ballad popular in this reign, though apparently
not written by the King himself, was ** Now Robin
lend to me thy bow," while mention must be
made of Anne Boleyn's *^0 death, rocke me on
slepe," a song whose title suggests that this
unhappy lady had some premonition of her ap-
proaching end on the scaffold.

Other ballads of the time were ^^Hey ding-a-
ding " (probably the same as ** Old Sir Simon the
King"), ^^ Have with you to Florida," '* Bonny
Lass upon a Green," ^^ By a Bank as I Lay " (a
great favourite with Henry VHI, and afterwards
reprinted as a Christmas Carol, ^* Welcome
Yule"), **As I went to Walsingham," ^* Pepper
is Black," ^^Greensleeves " (one of the most
famous of the old ballad dances, which is still
being printed and sung, though no longer
danced), and *^Go from my Garden, go." There
were, of course, hundreds of topical songs on
events of the moment, but those hardly come
under the category of ballads, as understood
in this book. The best class of ballads confined
itself entirely to historical or sentimental subjects.

Towards the end of Henry's reign a reaction
against ballads and ballad-singers set in. The
persecution began with a proclamation in 1533,
when an edict was issued to suppress ^*fond
books, ballads, rhimes, and other lewd treatises



THE EVOLUTION OF THE BALLAD 15

in the English tongue." Four years later a man
of the name of John Hogon was arrested for
singing in public a political ballad to the tune
of ^^The Hunt is up"; and in 1543 an Act
was passed ^* for the advancement of true religion,
and for the abolishment of the contrary," in which
it was stated that ^^froward and malicious minds,
intending to subvert the true exposition of Scrip-
ture, have taken upon them, by printed ballads,
rhymes, etc., subtilly and craftily to instruct his
highness* people, and specially the youth of this
his realm, untruly. For reformation whereof, his
majesty considereth it most requisite to purge
his realm of all such books, ballads, rhymes, and
songs, as be pestiferous and noisome. There-
fore, if any printer shall print, give, or deliver
any such, he shall suffer for the first time im-
prisonment for three months, and forfeit for every
copy 10/., and for the second time, forfeit all his
goods, and his body be committed to perpetual
prison."

However, during the reign of Edward VI
ballads began to multiply again, and no new
proclamation was passed. But with the acces-
sion of Mary there was published a fresh edict
against ^* books, ballads, rhymes, and treatises,"
which, she complained, had been *^set out by
printers and stationers, of an evil zeal for lucre,
and covetous of vile gain."



i6 A CENTURY OF BALLADS

When Elizabeth came to the throne this perse-
cution ceased, and the art of balladry began to
flourish again. **But," says Chappell, '^the
educated classes did not again bestow their
patronage upon this kind of amusement, and
henceforward the ballad became the exclusive
property of the lower orders of the people, both
song and tune being in future provided for them
by persons little if at all removed in social posi-
tion from themselves."

The number of ballads that were printed during
the reign of Elizabeth was something enormous,
and the country was overrun with itinerant ballad-
singers, idle youths who reaped a golden harvest
by *' singing and selling ballads in every corner
of cities and market-towns, and especially at
fairs, markets, and such-like public meetings."

Henry Chettle, in a strange publication entitled
Kind Hart's Dreame, first published in 1592,
has given an account of these ballad singers and


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryHarold SimpsonA century of ballads, 1810-1910; their composers and singers, with some introductory chapters on Old Ballads and Ballad-makers. → online text (page 1 of 18)