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136 A CENTURY OF BALLADS
October 12, 1891, the late Sir Augustus Harris gave a Henry Russell night at Covent Garden, the Daily Telegraph in giving an account of the affair remarked : " Strangely enough, it was not the sale of his hundreds of copyrights which brought solid fortune to Henry Russell. He parted with his songs, indeed, for a mere nothing. It was to hear him sing them himself that the people of England and America thronged theatre and hall. Charles Mathews, the actor, who let the Lyceum Theatre, was wont to stand amazed at the genial composer's ability to fill the house nightly with enthusiastic audiences."
At the time of this concert, Henry Russell was in his eightieth year, and had not made any public appearance for thirty years. I have dealt with his songs at some length for the reason that, whatever opinions may be held as to their merits, they mark, as I have said, a distinct epoch in the history of the popular ballad, and undoubtedly paved the way for the long succession of "descriptive' songs which have enjoyed a considerable vogue since his day, though at the present time they have gone out of fashion, perhaps never to return.
As a writer of innumerable lyrics for songs, and for many years associated with Henry Russell in his work, Charles Mackay must have a brief mention here. As has already been seen,