English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians

122 Songs and Ballads, and 323 Tunes With Lyrics & sheet Music - online book

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Introduction                                 vii
askance at my pipe and I rarely succeeded in extracting more than a half­hearted assent to my request for permission to light it.
That the illiterate may nevertheless reach a high level of culture will surprise those only who imagine that education and cultivation are convertible terms. The reason, I take it, why these mountain people, albeit unlettered, have acquired so many of the essentials of culture is partly to be attributed to the large amount of leisure they enjoy, with­out which, of course, no cultural development is possible, but chiefly to the fact that they have one and all entered at birth into the full enjoyment of their racial heritage. Their language, wisdom, man­ners, and the many graces of life that are theirs, are merely racial attributes which have been gradually acquired and accumulated in past centuries and handed down generation by generation, each genera­tion adding its quotum to that which it received. It must be re­membered, also, that in their everyday lives they are immune from that continuous, grinding, mental pressure, due to the attempt to "make a living," from which nearly all of us in the modern world suffer. Here no one is "on the make"; commercial competition and social rivalries are unknown. In this respect, at any rate, they have the advantage over those who habitually spend the greater part of every day in preparing to live, in acquiring the technique of life, rather than in its enjoyment.
I have dwelt at considerable length upon this aspect of the mountain life because it was the first which struck me and further, because, without a realization of this background, it will be difficult for the reader to follow intelligently what I have to say. But before I leave this part of my subject I must, in self-justification, add that I am aware that the outsider does not always see the whole of the game, and that I am fully conscious that there is another and less lovely side of the picture which in my appreciation I have ignored. I have deliberately done so because that side has, I believe, already been emphasized, perhaps with unnecessary insistence, by other observers.
The Singers and their Songs. My sole purpose in visiting this country was to collect the traditional songs and ballads which I had heard from Mrs. Campbell, and knew from other sources, were still being sung there. I naturally expected to find conditions very similar to those which I had encountered in England when engaged on the same quest. But of this I was soon to be agreeably disillusioned. Instead, for instance, of having to confine my attention to the aged, as in England where no