Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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I was singing,—1 was singing,
And my songs were idle words; But from my heart was springing
Wild music like a bird's. Now I sing, love—now I sing, love,
A fine Italian air; But it's not so glad a thing, love,
As childhood's ballads were.
I was merry, 1 was merry,
When my little lovers came, With a lily, or a cherry,
Or a new invented game ; Now I've you, love, now I've you, love,
To kneel before me there, But you know you're not so true, love,
As childhood's lovers were.
The song which follows is characteristic of its author, Mark Lemon, founder and editor of London Punch. Youth's best gifts, hope and enthusiasm, were never lost to him, and the man of gigantic proportions was at heart a perpetual boy. Sympathetic, generous, modest, and true-hearted, he was universally beloved, though his virtues were most appar­ent and best appreciated in his own home. He formed a love-match while young and poor, and although he was never substantially wealthy, and died leaving very little to his family, he had one of the happiest homes on earth. He played a royal game of romps, and could beat his boys at leap-frog. Mr. Joseph L. Hatton, in his pleasant volume of reminiscences of Mark Lemon, says: "Years hence, it may seem almost beyond belief that the founder of Punch died without deserving the enmity of any man, beloved by all who had labored with him, respected by men of all creeds and parties; being, nevertheless, one who had never sacrificed the independence of his paper."
Lemon had a Falstaffian appearance, and an aptitude for representation, and he played the part of the redoubtable knight in the private theatricals which Dickens and kindred spirits enacted, and which became famous in London. Lemon formed a small theatrical company of his own, with which he played throughout England, and made the tour of Scot­land. The little amateur party named itself " The Show." Mr. Hatton, who was a mem­ber of the company, says: " The grave and reverend chief, sweet Jack Falstaff, rare Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, smiled benignantly upon our frolicsome notions. He gave him­self up to all our whims and fancies. It seemed as if he were trying to be young again-For that matter, he was young; he had a rich, unctuous voice, and a merry, catching laugh. Not fame, but money for his family, was the object which he sought. He made careful study of F;ilstaff, and he always insisted that old Sir John 'was not a buffoon, but a gentle­man; fallen away in the general degeneracy of the times, but, nevertheless, a gentlemen.'"
While writing as busily, but not as readily as ever, Mark Lemon says: " It seems out Of character for an old boy like me to be telling love-stories. I don't know that I have lost faith, nor sentiment either, but I hurry over love-scenes as if I had no business with them." The description of Falstaffs death had always moved the nobler man who played his part. Falstatf in dying " babbled of green fields," and Mark Lemon, in his last moments, wan dered back in fancy to the loved and unforgotten scenes of his boyhood's home.
He was bora in London, November 30th, 1809, and died at Crawley, Sussex, May 23d, 1870. Besides his editorial work on Punch, and writings for other periodicals, he wrote forty plays, a few novels, and hundreds of ballads. His last, unfinished, and intended as the second of a series, was found scratched in lead pencil on a sheet of blue foolscap paper, and had no title. Youth and Love were the victors, as they had always been with him. It reads-