American Ballads and Songs

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or of the lost at sea, some Indian or pseudo-Indian songs like The Pretty Mohea or The Aged Indian, many humorous songs or song-stories—often finding their chief hold upon the memory in some single line—like I Wish I was Single Again or I'll Not Marry at All, songs of highwaymen like the British Dick Turpin, the Australian Jack Donahoo, the American Jesse James, or of the pirate Captain Kidd. There are also many death-bed confession pieces and somewhat ephem­eral songs of local murders, assassinations, and disas­ters. There are moralities and religious songs, tem­perance songs, pathetic songs of orphans and infants, songs of occupational pursuits like farm and ranch life and railway songs; and, lastly, traditional game and dance and nursery songs of American children. These last need a volume to themselves and have been given little space in these pages.
The colonists who came to this country from England in the seventeenth century undoubtedly brought with them folk-songs of many types then popular in England. The ungodly songs censored by Cotton Mather were probably street songs, amatory or ribald, which he wished to see replaced by those of more pious character. Among them may have been some of the traditional English and Scottish ballads. It is quite possible that a few Old World ballads have been recovered in this country in an earlier form than that which survives in England. This may be true for Barbara Allen's Cruelty, some texts of which—as pointed.*, out by Professor C. Alphonso Smith1—supply a hiatus in the narrative of British texts; and it may be true for The Maid Freed from the Gallows. The song of Betsy Brown, when Professor Firth's text2 is compared with
1 "Ballads Surviving in the United States," The Musical Quarterly, January, 1916.
'An American Garland (1915), p. 69.