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His steps lagged heavily along his track,
His mind was wildered, and his head a maze; He often stopped an instant and looked back, As manhood wistful looks on youth's past days; He could not speak the cause, nor tell what lack Did so affect him-weary o'er the ways He'd lightly trod before, at last he came Safe to his home with burthened heart and frame.
Time rolled along, yet he told not his sire,
By fear or shame, or unknown cause withheld; Again he felt an uncontrolled desire
To see the fair-mysteriously impelled. Again he went, it boots not to enquire
How oft, or tell the converse that they held, At length his absence and his troubled air Clear showed he was oppressed by pain or careOr secret grief. The father loved the son
Dearer than his own life, the which he prized
He drew the mystery from him, nor advised
Yet 'twas but following nature-his son's love Might chance be more propitious than his own; He sighed, his old heart quickened, but above
All self he thought upon his child alone; Fortune might wait him in the world, and prove More kind than to his sire it e'er had doneIt was a cutting thing to part, but grief Was his life's heritage, and life was brief.
And then an unseen tear he wiped, and took •
Of his lone dwelling hid with kind design :— "Go forth, my son," he said, "thou wilt not brook Thy sire's lone life now, he must thee resignGo forth into the world, and happier be Than he who gives thee thus to destiny. "Beauty and woman were thy father's bane,
As they have been to worthier men than he; Beauty and women may be a rich gain
(As they to myriads have) even to theeThe father's ill may, turned to good, remain
For thee his son-yes, Valentine, for thee! Farewell! go live with men, and be as they, To me they 're of the past eternity.
In a former Number we took a glance at the primitive state of ballad singers-traced their rise and progress from the golden days of the Virgin Queen down to the dark era in which we live, when by reason of beadles and anti-mendicity corporations, the art of itinerant singing has ceased to add its stimulus to the national virtue! We grieve to think how the vocal nation, stricken by the hand of persecution, has been scattered, as it were, before the winds-its separated members fleeing from the gainful thoroughfares were they were wont so creditably to appear and betaking themselves to distant habitations (as yet untainted by art), in order that they may pick up a precarious means of exemption from the destitute lot to which they have been so unnecessarily doomed. We have seen some of the elders of their communion-some of the tuneful patriarchs-those who were wont to occupy the high places amongst them, turned to the vilest uses, rendered into hewers of wood and drawers of water, disposed of in the most contemned offices! Let us be forgiven if we err-but we are filled with the conviction that the peace of the metropolis, and the purgation of its streets, are purchased at a heavy charge. We cannot yield to the dynasty of Mendicity Companies. We have scruples about the de jure titles of the House of Red Lion-square. And yet piously as we turn to the gentle days when ballads were chanted in safety, what can our feeble power accomplish against the usurpations of hard-hearted philanthropists! Bethnal Green! the chosen haunt of the harmonious tribe, often do we pace with lingering foot thy once verdant and almost rural, ways, casting about for some well-known face-straining after some long-accustomed note, and then quickly turn from thy classic sphere to dismiss the sad remembrance of some cherished spirit now laid low ! And whither have the tuneful race betaken themselves? They will not work and delve—they cannot away with the laborious dulness of handicraft. Few of them (so unerring to this hour is the poet's “si naturam expellas, &c.”) that have not consoled their captivity by some felicitous contrivance for the production of sounds, the growth of their unfailing love of the art. Whistling, (which, though not forbidden by law, is not much encouraged by the world) gives occupation to some faint number. We are acquainted with ex-ballad singers who have taken to the device (laughable ingenuity!) of striking music out of their chins! Ned Buckhorse, well known once in Covent Garden as the friend of Shuter, was the author of this item in the ways and means of his friends. Nor is it so marvellous a resource after all, nor so distantly related to the rational, as that conceit of old Isaac Vossius, who, be it remembered. in his Treatise de Cantu Poematum, laboured hard to establish a race of barbers who could imitate the measure of songs in combing the hair!— Again, some of our wanderers have trafficked in bird-calls-and not a few have devoted themselves to pandean minstrelsy-Nec illos pæniteat, &c. The workhouse has received a desperate remnant, who, in glorious contempt of danger, dared still to uplift their voices in the public walks, realizing by their example that singular clause in Pliny's description of the nightingale, "spiritu prius deficiente quam cantu." Of this faithful band let us mention Ned Friday, whose tone was pathos itself, even after Time strove with severe hand to derange the organ. We remember that flower
of affecting appeals, his "Jemmy Dawson,"-the Jemmy Dawson which was predecessor to, and whose throne, it cannot be denied, in the popular heart was usurped by Shenstone's celebrated ballad. Friday made 66 a piece of work" (as it was called) of this song; for to those who seemed more than usually interested in the sad record, he gave the full narrative; and though some sixty years interposed between his day and the event, yet would he as confidently vouch for the truth of his story as though he had witnessed its enactment on Kennington Common. Friday was acquainted with young Dibdin (the immortal Tyrtæus of our time) in Hampshire. He sang with him, wandered with him (for behold Dibdin was a ballad-singer), essayed pranks with him, and in short was present at the concoction of that admirable faculty, he maturity of which we have seen contribute so much to the exaltation of our naval glory. Dibdin did not afterwards forget his early associations; and the humorous manifesto, "The Ballad Singer," will bear to distant times a testimony of his youthful predilection for the children of song.-Mary Grace, a very aged member, claims our notice by virtue of the point of law of being found living at the period where our present history takes its rise-she is strictly within the meaning of "modern ballad singers," although the meridian of her powers was contemporaneous with a very far by-gone date. The once celebrated ballad of the "Maid of Baldock" was Mrs. Grace's earliest and latest fancy. She knew in her early days Mary Cornwall; such was the real name of this far-famed rustic beauty-and proudly did she boast of the acquaintance. The garrulity of the old woman still luxuriates over the recollections of the Maid of Baldock. Her beauty that attracted a thousand suitors-her modesty that shrunk from their importunate admiration-her maiden innocence and simplicity which deserted her not even in her connubial state, and the virtuous delicacy that made her avoid, to the day of her death, the fairs and market-places where her praises were resounded by obstinate ballad-singers, these things would our antient dilate with all the tokens of self-sufficiency and defiance, as if to say, "You can have nothing of the sort in these days." But who is there, old or young, amid the busy population of Towerhill, that does not bear in mind, and will not lend a kind word towards commemorating, that ornament of the profession, Joe Johnson? Joe was wont to wear, on days of business, a model (and an elaborate miniature it was) of the brig Nelson on his hat. She was full-rigged, had all her masts set, and looked for all the world as if she scudded before a gale of wind. The district just mentioned used to be called, and will be reported in traditions, no doubt, in technical phraseology, "Black Joe's Pitch." The man was lame, or, as he himself used to say, was damaged in his cock-pit--but in bust, in mein, and with his swarthy, bony face, half concealed by black frizzy curls, and crowned by a ship in full sail, he had the bearing of an Atlas. He was conversant with the best of Dibdin's songs-and in the "British Seaman's Praise," and the "Wooden Walls of Old England," he approved himself the Incledon of the highways. But these, in point of excellence, stood in relation to Joe's "Storm," as the best of his contemporaries was to Joe in his other songs. Incledon had voice and science-Joe's defi ciencies in these particulars were compensated by rude strength (the song is peculiarly susceptible of vocal force) and by pantomime. This
ballad-singer not only described, he demonstrated-he lowered the top gallants, then the stay-sails, and as soon as the time came for the breeze to freshen, Joe was seen to set the braces with a nimbleness and suc cess that would have extorted praise in the great world of a man d Successively you were stunned with the boatswain's bawl and the cheer of the crew. Next of all he looked like a man possessed with a raging demon, as he darted from place to place in mimic fury, cutting down masts, casting guns overboard, and gathering all hands to the pump. Here was an improvement on that difficult grace of poetry, making the words an "echo to the sense." Joe acted the song-he passed you through all the perils of the tempest, snatched you from the imminent wreck, without uttering a note. Never shall we forget the shout of satisfaction with which he consigned every bitter remembrance to oblivion, as he fervently cried "She rights, she rights, boys! wear off shore." After all, Joe was not so prosperous as the Lascar, a man far inferior in all that concerns professional capability. The Lascar realized a capital (we have it on good authority), whilst at the same time he was enabled to cultivate the sensual man so far by the daintiest supplies, as absolutely to contract the refined palate of an Alderman. He spitted his goose, and augmented his capital, every day he lived. The worst of it was, our Lascar was a living fraud-he was no true sailor-he was one of those fresh water mariners (as it is currently said), whose ships were drowned in Salisbury plain-a mere pretender,-one who turns, as a last resource to the exhaustless volume of naval misfortunes, and whose successful traffick in the adventures which are deduced from this source, is so powerful an evidence of their influence on our sympathies. Of this order of innocent impostors was one of the most remarkable men of his days, Jack Stuart, famous, like Homer, for being blind. He was the sole relic (at the period of his death) of the old school. He was the worthy depositary of the customs and regulations of the ancient regime. Whoever has the good fortune to go to Campsall church will no doubt (whatever be his habits or station) be struck with the beauty of a monument which ornaments that edifice, and which will communicate, in many a trait of exquisite art, to the latest hour which the envious tooth of time will allow the piece of sculpture to reach uninjured, that it was traced by the chisel of Flaxman. By far the most elaborate and the most effective figure in the group (for the monument consists of a group) is that of a sailor. Will it be believed? Jack Stuart, our ballad singer, our pseudo-sailor, stood to the sculptor for this figure. These artists, it seems, are constantly beating about for models. Flaxman, in one of his patrols, ran his head against Jack Stuart, as the poor fellow was maunding in the Borough. An appointment, succeeded by repeated visits, was the consequence; and to this accident was the ballad-singer indebted for his singular preservation from the common lot. Stuart having concentrated all the veneration that had been entertained for the (now) decayed race of minstrels; having improved, in some measure, this sentiment by the expression of a proud consciousness of claims on the esteem of his brethren, went out of life the most regretted, and surrounded by all the testimonies of being the most important loss to his circle which its members had experienced. The patriarch of the vocal tribe, he required all this homage to make his death-bed endurable,
having survived (hard lot!) all his relations-outlived the contemporaries of his prime-and having borne about him the fragment of many a broken bond of early friendship. And if, in the calm of his last hour, the "longing, lingering look behind," could have been perceived to gleam from that expressive face, it would have settled on the untired companion of all his fortunes-his helpmate, his guide and protector, the powerful organ of all his wants, at whose intercession many a frozen heart had unlocked the stream of its charity-his faithful dog Tippo. The curious reader is referred to Smith's interesting work "Vagabondiana," for an etching of Stuart and his dog. This canine treasure is. now under the protection of George Dyball, to whom it came by inheritance. He is the successor to some of Stuart's virtues, and all his misfortunes. The remains of poor Stuart were consigned to their resting-place with memorable honours. The body, after lying in a sort of state for some time, was borne in a stout substantial coffin to Saint Pancras churchyard, where the ashes of many a great man reposed before him. The funeral procession, which was very extensive, included most of the friends to the profession in and near the metropolis. It was headed by the two Worthingtons, blind fiddlers, dressed in the ghastly costume of mourners, who did all in their power to perform a dirge. Several of the most respectable mendicants of the day lent the aid of their powerful talents to increase the melancholy interest of the occasion. But why are we relating this event in prose, when it is officially, and so much more worthily, commemorated in poetry? A ballad was composed on the occasion, (we are told by an author of the day) which up to this day has had but an oral existence.* It is not to be found in writing any where. Pitts, of the Seven Dials, the great ballad printer (the Aldus Manutius of street lore, as the Italian was of classic,) has granted a warrant for its apprehension many a long day ago it has eluded the vigilance of his agents: even now we are in possession of only fragments of the subject; but as these will serve to show that the ballad, in its perfect state, is a specimen of a peculiar style, we have no hesitation in submitting them to the curiosity of the public.
"The history of John, alias Jack Stuart, commencing with his death and funeral, being a sad lamentation for his downfal, likewise his dog Tippo, showing the true end of greatness in this here world.'
It vas all on a fine Saturday night,
And de lads togs in hand about starting.
Or de soul of a beadle, ve found him.
Ve resolved, (dat ve might give our poor hearts relief,)
In de best of deal boards, and with singing and grief;
*Stuart died 15th August, 1815.
VOL. IX. No. 54.-1825.