Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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The Judge and the Jury
girl's appeal, so that the prisoner is discharged. Just how much, — if there is any reminiscence of the Child ballad, it is hard to say, but there may be some, as 'George of Oxford' is fairly well known in the Southern High­lands. Davis has four texts from Virginia, Cox one from West Virginia, Belden one from Missouri, and Sharp a record from North Carolina. I should publish it as an instance of deterioration in the process of ballad-making. Child's 'Geordie', when compared with a really fine old ballad like 'Old Robin of Portingale' or 'King Estmere', is seen at once to be already on the downhill road; 'George of Oxford' and 'Charley's Escape' are gaining speed on the decline, while 'The Judge and the Jury' is near the bottom of the hill. Its mood is that of the tent show, — it appeals to the emotions of such a person as the young woman whom I saw rise from her seat at a tent show in Vermont and announce that 'she would not let that cruel old man turn his son out in an awful storm just because he loved a certain girl.' You can imagine the kind of'storm' the limited resources and stagecraft of a tent show could produce. But the ballad is interesting to ballad students as an example of the way tent show balladry deals with a theme which is basically the same as 'Geordie'. Thus, the criminal is youngs fair haired, — the crowd in the court room pity him because of his youth, — his sweetheart is described — with apologies to Stephen Foster — as 'fair with golden hair'. (Compare Foster's 'Under the Willow', with its line of the chorus: 'Fair, fair, with golden hair'). The judge is old, — he is moved to pity by the beauty and loyalty of the girl, exactly as is the case in 'Geordie' and 'Charley's Escape'; he cannot resist the suggestion that his wife was once his sweetheart, or that he may have a daughter who looks like the pleading girl. Where the old ballads 'leap' in the process of depicting emotion, the tent show ballad 'lingers'. Bathos can go no farther than in the cliche with which the ballad ends: 'love always has its way', possibly from the line 'love will have its way' in a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox."
Cf. Flanders and Brown, "Charley's Escape," p. 241. For other American texts of "Geordie," see Barry-Eckstorm-Smyth, p. 475; Belden, No. 9; Campbell and Sharp, No. 28; Cox, No. 23 ; Davis, No. 39; Pound, Syllabus, p. 11; Shoemaker, p. 158; Journaly XX, 319 (Belden); XXXII, 504 (Richardson).
Obtained from Miss Mary E. King, Gatlinburg, Sevier G)unty, Tennes­see, August, 1931.

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