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156 A CENTURY OF BALLADS
by me." Unfortunately the "inevitable setting" was never realised.
Among Sullivan's earliest published songs were a set of Shakespeare songs, of one of which, " Orpheus with his lute," a critic has said that it was probably his best secular song from a musical point of view. Speaking of these songs, which were published in 1863, Sullivan once said : "I composed six Shakespearian songs for Messrs. Metzler and Co., and got five guineas apiece for them. ' Orpheus with his lute,' 'The Willow Song,' 'O Mistress Mine' were amongst them, the first having been since then a steady income to the publisher."
"The success of his vocal pieces," says Mr. Findon in his book, "soon enabled him to assume a more independent attitude towards the publishers, and with Messrs. Boosey he arranged for the publication of his works on the more satisfactory basis of the royalty system."
Lyric writers are often taken to task for not writing better poetry, but it is not often that a Poet Laureate is hauled over the coals for not writing better lyrics ! In Mr. Lawrence's Life of Sullivan, however, he quotes some comments by the latter on Tennyson as a writer of words for music. " He would write a simple song or ballad," said Sullivan, "wherein the music to each verse should be the same, but which really