Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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Tom.—Well, that, you see, depends entirely on when it was written. It might be five hundred years old, or it may have been written yesterday. It's a mighty accommodating tune, and would do for either period. Counsel.—It really appears to me that there is no probability of coming to any definite conclusion, unless his Lordship and the Court were to hear it. We cannot ask you, Mr. Cooke, of course, to sing it j but if you had an instru­ment, could you play it ? Tow.—What! at sight? (A roar of laughter). Counsel.—I don't know what you mean by at sight, sir, but if the tune were put before you, could you play it? Tom.—I think, if my nerve does not fail me, I could. Counsel.—What instrument can we get you, sir? Tom.—Oh, anything. Counsel.—Oh, anything. A Jew's-harp? Tom.—No; it might require a Jew's eye to read the music. Counsel. — Will a fiddle do, sir? Tom.—Yes. Counsel.—Let a fiddle be got.
" The fiddle was brought into court, and handed to the witness, who tuned it and placed the music before him. A suppressed laugh ran through the court. Mr. Cooke had just
produced the first note, when the usher called out,' Si------lence!tn Tom. — What!mustn't
[play it? Counsel. — Yes, yes; go on, sir. Mr. Cooke played it slowly and deliberately through. Judge. — Is that all ? Tom. — It is, my Lord. Judge.—Well, that appears to be very simple and easy. Tom. — (Holding out the bow and violin.) — It is. Will your Lord­ship try it ? This sally was followed by roars of laughter. Counsel. — Now, Mr. Cooke, as you profess to be a musician, will you tell us, in the first place, is that which you have just played, a melody ? Tom. — Well, I really don't think it is. The first part is merely ascend­ing the scale, and the few bars afterwards I don't think really amount to a melody. Counsel. — This is evading the question. Do you know what a melody is? Tom.—I'm an Irishman, and I think I do. Counsel. — Well, define it. Tom. — Define what ? Both parties were now in a passion. Counsel. — Define, sir, what is a melody. Tom. — It's im­possible. Counsel. — Can you decline a verb, sir ? Tom. — I think I can. Counsel. — Do, then. Tom. — (Seeming to think, and casting his eyes about him with a satirical smile.) — I'm an ass, he's an ass, and (pointing to the barrister) you're an ass. (Koars of laughter, in which the Judge joined.) Counsel. — Let that witness stand down.
" All means and witnesses having failed to stamp the song as an original melody, the decision was left in the hands of the jury, who, under all the circumstances, declared in favor of Mr. Purday, and he became sole possessor of the ' Old English Gentleman.'" Qitassi recititive.