A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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CHAPTER V
THE SONGS OF HENRY RUSSELL
T HE songs of Henry Russell mark something of a new departure in ballad-writing, and may be said to have introduced the taste for the " descriptive " ballad, so much in vogue at one time. The sentiment of many of them is simple almost to pathos, but it caught the public fancy of that period, helped by the undoubted catchi-ness of the tunes. The words of many of them were written by Charles Mackay, a prolific writer of verse, to whom I refer later.
Henry Russell was born at Sheerness in 1812, and lived for many years of his life in America. It was there that he wrote the first ballad that was to bring him fame, though not fortune, see­ing that he sold the copyright outright for a couple of dollars ! This was the once famous, though now almost forgotten, "Woodman, spare that tree," the words of which were by George Morris, the American poet. Henry Russell has himself told the story of the circumstances under which the song came to be written.
"I was driving," he says, " in the vicinity of
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