Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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The story of the authoress of the following song, is one of the saddest and most romantic of all the o'er-true tales.
Mary Derby, the daughter of an American sea-captain, was born in Bristol, England, in 1758. As a child (an only one), she was surpassingly beautiful and bright, and the utmost care was bestowed upon her education and accomplishments. Her home stood next to the Cathedral, and, when very young, she crept into the dim and solemn aisles, to dream and write little melancholy poems. Her mates, in a school kept by two sisters of Hannah More, were the future Mrs. John Kemble and a daughter of Mrs. Pritchard, the great actress. At this time, she says: "My clothes were sent for from London; my fancy was indulged to the extent of its caprices; I was flattered and praised into a belief that I was a being of a superior order. To sing, to play a lesson on the harpsichord, to recite an elegy, and to make doggerel verses, made the extent of my occupations." Her father lost all his money in speculation, and, while he was at sea, Mrs. Derby removed to London, and opened a small school. The husband suddenly re-appeared, broke up the school, which he was pleased to term a degradation of his name, and left again, without doing anything to support his family. Garrick saw the young girl, and was so delighted with her beauty and histrionic gifts, that he wanted her to play Cordelia, in "Lear." Mrs. Derby was horrified, and, just at this time, a young lawyer, named Robinson, found access to the house, and paid suit to Miss Mary. He brought tracts to the mother, and trinkets to the daughter. The mother urged her child's union to a youth so pious and wealthy, and when she was but fifteen years old, forced her into a marriage. Mary says: " My heart, even when I knelt at the altar, was as free from any tender impression, as it had been at the moment of my birth." Mr. Eobinson wished the marriage kept secret from his family, but Mrs. Derby would not consent, and the pair were sent into Wales to visit them. A terrible visit it proved to the poor bride. She found that her husband was an illegitimate child, and the family had turned him off. They returned to London, where the husband added dissipation to meanness, and soon their home was sold for debt, and Mr. Eobinson was thrown into prison. Mary took up her abode there with him, bringing her infant daughter. Courtly lovers had never forgotten the beauty of the young bride, and in her distress she was sought and sued; but, she says: "During nine months and three weeks, never once did I pass the threshold of our dreary habitation, though every effort was made to draw me from my scene of domestic attachment." Among her admirers, came the actors, and now the idea of going upon the stage for a livelihood presented itself. She appeared as Juliet, and "the beautiful Mrs. Eobinson" became the rage. She had.