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624 ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
" E'en D'Urfey himself, and such merry fellows, That put their whole trust in tunes and twangdillos, May hang up themselves and their harps on the willows ; For, if poets are punished for libelling-trash, Jo. Dryden, at sixty, may yet fear the lash."
Political songs were mainly kept alive by the mug-houses in London and Westminster, and many of the songs sung at those clubs were afterwards collected and published. The author of A Journey through England in 1724," says,—
"In the city of London, almost every parish hath its separate club, where the citizens, after the fatigue of the day is over in their shops and on the Exchange, unbend their thoughts before they go to bed. But the most diverting or amusing of all were the mug-house clubs in Long Acre, Cheapside, &c, where gentlemen, lawyers, and tradesmen, used to meet in a great room, seldom under a hundred.
" They had a president, who sate in an armed chair some steps higher than the rest of the company, to keep the whole room in order. A harp played all the time at the lower end of the room; and every now and then one or other of the company rose and entertained the rest with a song, and (by the by) some were good masters. Here was nothing drank but ale, and every-gentleman had his separate mug, which he chalked on the table where he sate, as it was brought in; and every one retired when he pleased, as from a coffee-house.
" The rooms were always so diverted with songs, and drinking from one table to another to one another's healths, that there was no room for anything that could sour conversation.
" One was obliged to be there by seven to get room, and after ten the company were for the most part gone.
" This was a winter's amusement, agreeable enough to a stranger for once or twice, and he was well diverted with the different humours when the mngs overflow.
" On King George's accession to the throne, the Tories had so much the better of the friends to the Protestant succession, that they gained the mobs on all public days to their, side. This induced this set of gentlemen to establish mug-houses in all the corners of this great city, for well-affected tradesmen to meet and keep up the spirit of loyalty to the Protestant succession, and to be ready upon all tumults to join their forces for the suppression of the Tory mobs. Many an encounter they had, and many were the riots, till at last the Parliament was obliged by a law to put an end to this city strife; which had this good effect, that upon the pulling down of the mug-house in Salisbury Court, for which some boys were hanged on this Act, the city has not been troubled with them since." (Malcolm's Manners and Customs, p. 532.)
Political songs seem to have been the only kind of poetry in general favour, after the reign of Queen Anne. Horace Walpole writes to Richard West, in 1742,—
" 'Tis an age most unpoetical; 'tis even a test of wit, to dislike poetry : and though Pope has half a dozen old friends that he has preserved, from the taste of last century, yet, I assure you, the generality of readers are more diverted with any paltry prose answer to old Marlborough's Secret History of Queen Mary's Robes. I do not think an author would be universally commended for any production in verse unless it were an Ode to the Secret Committee, with rhymes of ' liberty and property,' ' nation and administration.'" (Correspondence, i. 100.)