|Share page||Visit Us On FB|
GOD SAVE THE KING. 579
hall at the first public appearance of King James after the discovery of the gunpowder plot. He emphasizes the •< knavish tricks,'* and the political enemies who concocted them, and shows that these very forms of expression were introduced into the Church's thanksgivings and prayers for the monarch's escape and continued safety; but he does not explain the force of having the King " sent victorious." He accounts in two ways for the want of certainty on this point, by showing that the property of the hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1666, or by the supposition that Jonson may have destroyed the anthem himself; for, after his duel with Spencer, the actor, he was committed to prison, where he was converted to Catholicism, in which faith he remained for twelve years, during which time the monarch who had ordered the translation of our present English Bible, would be less glorious in his eyes. One thing which seems to favor this rather startling theory, is, that the music is attributed by nearly all authorities to Dr. Bull, who was a famous composer of that reign, and some of whose music was known to have been produced at this meeting in the Tailors' Hall.
Is it not possible that Ben Jonson did write the anthem, with a different fourth line in the first stanza, and that, being a genuine poet, he thought so slightly of a production which is utterly worthless as poetry, that he did not take the trOURle to claim it 1 And when he changed his faith, he might have been glad that his wretched verses had been burned, and only wished that the many similar ones he must have written, as laureate, had shared their fate. But these had been sung by a great chorus of " the gentlemen and children of the royal chapel." These children would remember a song learned for so great an occasion, and from them it would descend orally. Perhaps, then, Henry Carey took the isong, which it has never been shown that he personally claimed, wrote a new line to give an especial Jacobite twist to the sentiments, and set it afloat to the praise of the exiled house of Stuart. It is believed that he sang it in public at this time, and in 1714, when Dr. Arne is known to have re-arranged the air, it is certain that he sang it again publicly, with " Great George our King" substituted, but with all the other incongruities remaining; for the accession of George I. was peaceful and undisputed. Cary's life of eighty years, extended through the reigns of Charles II., James II., William and Mary, Queen Anne, and two of the Georges.
Carey's son, born in the year of his father's death, stoutly contended for his father's authorship of music as well as words, and made an attempt to get a pension on the strength of it, which attempt he thus describes: " Reflecting on its utility, and convinced of its having been written by my father, I thought there could be no harm in endeavoring, through some medium or other, to make myself known at Windsor as son of the author of 'God save the King,' and as great families create great wants, it is natural to wish for some little relief. Accordingly, I was advised to beg the interference of a gentleman residing in the purlieus of the Castle, and who is forever seen bowing and scraping in the King's walks, that he would be kind enough to explain this matter rightly to the sovereign, thinking it was not improbable but that some consideration might have taken place and some little compliment been bestowed on the offspring of one 'who had done the state some service.' But, alas! no sooner did I move in the business with the greatest humility to this demi-cannon, but he opened his copious mouth as wide as a four-and-twenty pounder, bursting as loudly upon me as the largestpiece of ordnance, with his chin cocked up, like the little centre figure, with his cauliflower-wig, in Banbury's Country Club, exclaiming,« Sir, I do not see, because your father was the author of«God save the King,' that the King is wider any obligation to his son.' I am convinced, had my plea been fairly stated at a great and good man's house, I should have had a princely answer; but in respect to myself, I may have by-and-by to say, like Cardinal Wolsey, that
' I am weary and old, left to the mercy Of a rude stream that must forever hide me.' "