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630 ENGLISH SONG AND EALLAD MUSIC.
reign of George II. through the medium of the ballad-operas. The first of these was The Beggars' Opera, which contained the necessary amount of political satire to suit the taste of the day in song, and was a caricature of Italian operas, then in the height of fashion. It was first offered to Cibber, at Drury Lane, and rejected by him, but accepted by Rich, the manager of the Theatre Royal in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and produced on the 29th of January, 1727-8. It was written by Gay,—the success was extraordinarily great, and it was said, by one of the wits of the day, to have made Gay rich, and Rich gay. The following account of it is from the notes to The Dunciad:—" This piece was received with greater applause than was ever known. Besides being acted in London sixty-three days without intermission, and renewed the next season with equal applause, it spread into all the great towns of England; it made a progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland; the ladies carried about with them the favorite songs of it, on fans; houses were furnished with it on screens; furthermore, it drove out of England, for that season, the Italian opera, which had carried all before it for ten years." Lavinia Fenton, who acted the part of Polly, became the toast of the town, and was soon after married by Charles, third Duke of Bolton.
One of the Miscellaneous Poems by several Sands, published by D. Lewis (8vo., 1730), is on the success of The Beggars' Opera. It is "Old England's Garland; or, The Italian Opera's Downfall. An excellent new ballad, to the tune of King John and the Abbot of Canterbury" and commences thus:— " I sing of sad discords that happened of late, Of strange revolutions, but not in the state ; How old England grew fond of old tunes of her own, And her ballads went up and our operas down.
Derry down, down, hey derry down."
It is again alluded .to in the epilogue to Love in a Riddle,— " Poor English mouths, for twenty years, Sweet sound on languid Bense bestow'd
Have been shut up from music; Is like a beauty married
But, thank our stars, outlandish airs To th' empty fop who talks aloud,
At last have made all yon sick. And all her charms are buried.
When warbling dames were all in flames, But late experience plainly shews
And for precedence wrangled, That common sense, and ditty,
One English play cut short the fray, Have ravish'd all the belles and beaux,
And home again they dangled. And charmed the channting city."
For the six years that ensued after the production of the Beggars' Opera, scarcely any other kind of drama was produced on the stage. Even for the booths in Bartholomew Fair new ballad operas were written, and subsequently published with the tunes. In many the music was printed in type with the book; for others it was engraved and sold separately.
I may here remark that the engraving of music on metal plates seems to have been practised in England before it was used in Italy, or any other country. In England it commenced in the reign of James I. Before that time' all music had been printed from moveable types, except perhaps an occasional short specimen from a wooden block. The two first music engravers were William and