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Foreword . xiii
Tray," " The Old Oaken Bucket," and other doggerel as to verse and absurdity as to lyrics, are examples of such music-pathos; yet these songs had a place, and a large place, in the hearts of a whole people, therefore they became dignified for all time, and have found a place here.
So far as was practicable, authoritative notes have been published with the songs in this book, but there is certain history too extensive to publish thus, and which is best mentioned prefatorily. The authorship of " Rock Me To Sleep" was at one time bitterly disputed. The words were written by Elizabeth Akers-Allen, but a man named Ball laid claim to the extraordinarily popular song, — popular by reason of the words, — and at about the same time claimants sprang up all over the country. At that period Mark Twain was almost an unknown humorous quantity, but Ball's nonsense so aroused Twain's humorous sense that he sprang to print on the subject. A travesty was presented by him in the form of editorial prose and has almost been lost to memory and to history. The lines are here recalled and recorded, and should be preserved as an inalienable part of the " Rock-Me-To-Sleep " controversy, since, upon their publication, Mrs. Akers-Allen immediately came into her own. Mark Twain wrote thus: —
"Backward, speed backward, O Ball, in your flight! make not an ass of yourself (just for to-night) — pull the few silver threads out of your hair; fill up and varnish those furrows of care — care that was born of attempting Fame's steep which you could n't climb. Ball, whom none rocked to sleep.