A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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132              A CENTURY OF BALLADS
written by Epps Sargent, and the story goes that he showed them to Morris, who said they would never do for setting to music. Happening to meet Russell in the street, Sargent told him what Morris had said. " Let's have a look at them," said Russell. Sargent produced them rather un­willingly. Russell read them, and saying, "This will do ! Come along ! " led the way into the back room of a Broadway music-store, where he promptly sat down to the piano and wrote the tune straight away.
"Henry Russell," said a writer once, "be­lieved in songs that had a purpose, and many were the missions which he had set himself to initiate or participate in from the platform." To this category belong "The Maniac," which was written to expose the evils of private lunatic asylums, "The Gambler's Wife," and "The Slave Ship." Of "The Maniac" there is an amusing little anecdote. It was to be sung by a famous Italian opera basso at a benefit concert given by Henry Russell. When, how­ever, the singer was trying it over at rehearsal, the opening line of the song, "Hush! 'tis the night watch," came out something like this: " Hosh ! 'tis the night vash," which produced roars of laughter from everyone in the theatre. Needless to say, Russell got him to substitute another song.
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