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ST. JAMES'S HALL BALLAD CONCERTS 227
Kipling, and there was a little doubt in the minds of both publisher and singer as to how the public would take the word " dammed " when declaimed in a song. However, as it turned out, it took it "smiling," so to speak. The fear of one word in the lyric upsetting the success of a song is not so far-fetched as it may seem, but of this another story later on.
For Maude Valerie White's beautiful song "To Mary" ("Oh, Mary dear, that you were here ! ") Ben Davies retains a very affectionate regard. He relates how once, when singing it to the late Queen Victoria, she expressed her delight, and asked why she had never heard him sing it before. He replied that though he had often included it on the list of songs submitted, it happened never to have been amongst those chosen. On every future occasion when he appeared before her "To Mary': was always asked for with unfailing regularity.
In speaking of the concerts and singers of this period, a gentleman who has been closely connected with the management of ballad concerts for many years said to me recently: "Sims Reeves was the biggest attraction who ever sang at a ballad concert; and there is no one who can be compared to him in that respect except Clara Butt, who has the same magnetic power of drawing the public."