Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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42
OUR FAMILIAR SONGS.
While Charles Kemble was manager of Covent Garden Theatre, in 1823, he bought a quan­tity of Payne's writings. Among them was a play entitled "Clari, the Maid of Milan.* Payne was almost starving in an attic in the Palais Royal, Paris, when at Kemble's request, he altered this play into an opera, and introduced into it the words of "Home, Sweel Home." It contained two stanzas—a third and fourth—which have since been dropped Miss Tree, elder sister of Mrs. Charles Kean, was the prima donna of the opera, and sang the song.' It won for her a wealthy husband, and enriched all who handled it, while the author did not receive even the £25 which he reckoned as the share that this opera should count in the £230 for which he sold his manuscripts. One hundred thousand copies of the song were sold in a single year, and it brought the original publisher two thousand guineas (over $10,000) within two years from its publication. Payne returned to this country in 1832, and nine years later he received the appointment of American Consul at Tunis. The brief sketches of Payne's life in the usual sources of information are silent about any removal from this office, but here are his own words: " How often have I been in the heart of Paris, Berlin, London, or some other city, and have heard persons singing or hand-organs playing ' Sweet Home/ without having a shilling to buy myself the next meal or a place to lay my head! The world has literally sung my song until every heart is familiar with its melody, yet I have been a wanderer from my boyhood. My country has turned me ruthlessly from office, and in my old age I have to submit to humiliation for my bread." With due consideration for the sorrows of his career, we cannot forget that the carefully educated youth forsook his old home and associations and voluntarily attached himself to the fortunes of a class of literary adventurers who lived by their wits. He died at Tunis, April 10, 1852. The singular antithesis between his fame and his fate has often been pathetically dwelt upon, but never better expressed than by William H. C. Hosmer, in these hues:
Unhappy Payne !—no pleasure-grounds were thine, With rustic seats overshadowed by the vine; No children grouped around thy chair in glee, Like blossoms dinging to the parent tree; No wife to cheer thy mission upon earth,
And share thine hours of sorrow and of mirth, Or greet thy coming with love's purest kiss— Joy that survives the wreck of Eden's bliss. Hands of the stranger, ring the mournful knell-Homeless the bard who sang of home so well!
In 1883 Payne's remains were brought to the United States. They lay in state in New York, and were then taken to Washington and entombed, with appropriate ceremonies. The incident recalled to an old concert-goer a scene in that city in December, 1850, when Jenny Lind sang " Home, Sweet Home," with Payne in a front seat.
Payne wrote two additional stanzas to " Home, Sweet Home" for an American lady in London. They are unfamiliar, and unworthy of notice as poetry; but for that matter, what can we say of the real merit of the original ? If we did not love it, we should laugh at it. Here are the lines:
To us, in despite of the absence of years, HOW MUU tin- niii.inbnuxc of home still appears; From allurements abroad, which but natter the eye, The unsatisfied heart turns, and says with a sigh,
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home,
There's m place like home!
Your exile is blest with all fate can bestow; But mine lias been checkered with many a woe! Yet, tho' different our fortunes, our tho'ts are the same. And both, as we think of Columbia, exclaim,
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home,
There's no place like home!
Parke, in his " Musical Memoirs," says that the air to which " Home, Sweet Home" is set, is from a German opera; but all other authorities agree iu calling it a Sicilian air adapted by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop. Donizetti introduced a slightly altered form of the air into his opera of -Anna Bolena," at the suggestion of Madame Pasta, the celebrated singer.                                                                                                  '








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III