Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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REIGNS OF JAMES I. AND CHARLES I.                                 265
The above song dates before the Restoration, because there is a political parody upon it among the King's Pamphlets, Brit. Mus., dated January 19th, 1659,' commencing thus:— " In a humour of late I was
Ycleped a doleful dump ; Thought I, we're at a fine pass,
Not a man stands up for the Ilump," &c. I suppose it to have been written, only a short time before the return of Charles, and that this Old Simon the King is the same person alluded to in one of the Catches in the Antidote to Melancholy, 4to, 1661, beginning— " Good Symon, how comes it your nose is so red, And your cheeks and your lips look so pale ? Sure the'heat of the toast your nose did so roast When they were both soused in ale," &c. And perhaps also in " An Epitaph on an honest citizen and true friend to all claret .drinkers," contained in part ii. of Playford's Pleasant Musical Companion, 4to, 1687— " Here lyeth Simon, cold as clay,
Who whilst he liv'd cried Tip away," &c. At the end of this epitaph it is said—
" Now although this same epitaph was long since given, Yet Simon's not dead more than any man living." He was, perhaps, an old man whose death had been long expected.
The tune was in great favour at, and after, the Restoration. Many of the songs of the Cavaliers. were sung to it; many by Martin Parker, and other ballad-writers of the reigns of James and Charles; several by Wilmott, Earl of Rochester; and others of still later date.
Penkethman, the actor, wrote a comedy called Love without Interest, or The Man too hard for the Master (1699), in which one of the characters says satirically, " Who? he! why the newest song he has is The Children in the Wood, or The London Prentice, or some such like ditty, set to the new modish tune of Old Sir Simon the King"
The name of the tune, Old Simon the King, is printed in much larger letters than any other of the collection, on the title-page of "A Choice Collection of Lessons, being excellently sett to the Harpsichord, by the two great masters, Dr. John Blow, and the late Mr. Henry Purcell," printed by Henry Playford in 1705 : it was evidently thought to be the great attraction to purchasers.
Fielding, in his novel of Tom Jones, makes it Squire Western's favorite tune. He tells us, " It wTas Mr. Western's custom every afternoon, as soon as he was drunk, to hear his daughter play upon the harpsichord. . . . He never relished any music but what was light and airy; and, indeed, his most favorite tunes were Old Sir Simon the King, St. George he was for England, and some others.. .. The Squire declared, if she would give him t'other'bout of Old Sir Simon, he would give the gamekeeper his deputation the next morning. Sir Simon was played again and again, till the charms of music soothed Mr. Western to sleep."—i. 169. It was the tune rather than.the words, that gave it so lengthened a popularity. I have,foimd the air commonly quoted under five other names; viz., as Magged