Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
The authorship of this song has been disputed. George Alexander Stevens was born in London, England, but the exact date is not known. He was an actor of no great power, and between poor playing and hard drinking, his finances were in a not very flourish­ing condition, when he hit upon a scheme for repairing them. He wrote an amazingly funny mixture of wit and nonsense, entitled it " A Lecture on Heads," and gave it to a friend to deliver. As might have been expected, the friend failed to catch the fine points of the composition, and the "beads" fell as if severed on the block. Stevens picked them up and stuck them on again, for a second round. Presto! all the features were in their right places, and every pun was as plain as the nose on a man's face. The lecture was an im­mense success, and became popular at once. Stevens delivered it amid "unbounded en­thusiasm," in Great Britain and Ireland, and then brought it over to delight our staid ancestors on this-side of the water. On going back to England, he attempted to lengthen out the joke by adding "half-lengths," and "whole-lengths," but an over-drawn witticism is a dismal thing, and nobody laughed with the disappointed comedian. The following is an extract from a letter which he wrote while lying, for debt, in Yarmouth jail:
" The week's eating finishes my last waistcoat; and next I must atone for my errors on bread and water. A wig has fed me two days; the trimming of a waistcoat as long; a pair of velvet breeches paid my washerwoman j a ruffle shirt has found me in shaving.