Music of the Travelling People || Folk Songs of the West Countryby Sabine Baring-Gould

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  • Folk Songs of the West Country by Sabine Baring-GouldReview by: Kenneth LovelessFolk Music Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Music of the Travelling People (1975), pp. 91-92Published by: English Folk Dance + Song SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4521975 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 22:56

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  • sellers. Other chapters deal with the influence of street literature on other forms of literature and also with the survival of broadside printing in the present century. In this respect the folksong revival of the last twenty or so years is shown to have played no small part in the broadside survival, or should one really say revival ? Mr Shepard modestly refrains from admitting that his earlier works must have influenced some of these latter printers.

    Several broadsides are reprinted in The History of Street Literature and, as an added bonus, Mr Shepard reproduces James Catnach's 1832 Catalogue which should prove to be of great use to students of English folksong.

    Robert Collison's The Story of Street Literature, by way of contrast, is little more than are-write of Charles Hindley's Life and Times of James Carnach (1878) and John Ashton's Chap Books of the Eighteenth Century (1882), to which an up-to- date bibliography has been added. Readers of this Journal will find the two earlier volumes readily avail- able in re-print form far more useful.

    MICHAEL YATES

    Folk Songs of the West Country. Collected by Sabine Baring-Gould, annotated from the MSS at Plymouth Library and with ad- ditional material by Gordon Hitchcock. David and Charles, 1974.112pp.3.25. I have written before in this

    Journal (1971) that the Church of England during the Victorian era produced many distinguished clerics most of them incumbents of country parishes who were also antiquaries, botanists, geologists, archeologists, musicians, novelists, poets, artists and so forth- and Baring-Gould, a magpie-minded man of astonishingly wide interests was undoubtedly in the

    sellers. Other chapters deal with the influence of street literature on other forms of literature and also with the survival of broadside printing in the present century. In this respect the folksong revival of the last twenty or so years is shown to have played no small part in the broadside survival, or should one really say revival ? Mr Shepard modestly refrains from admitting that his earlier works must have influenced some of these latter printers.

    Several broadsides are reprinted in The History of Street Literature and, as an added bonus, Mr Shepard reproduces James Catnach's 1832 Catalogue which should prove to be of great use to students of English folksong.

    Robert Collison's The Story of Street Literature, by way of contrast, is little more than are-write of Charles Hindley's Life and Times of James Carnach (1878) and John Ashton's Chap Books of the Eighteenth Century (1882), to which an up-to- date bibliography has been added. Readers of this Journal will find the two earlier volumes readily avail- able in re-print form far more useful.

    MICHAEL YATES

    Folk Songs of the West Country. Collected by Sabine Baring-Gould, annotated from the MSS at Plymouth Library and with ad- ditional material by Gordon Hitchcock. David and Charles, 1974.112pp.3.25. I have written before in this

    Journal (1971) that the Church of England during the Victorian era produced many distinguished clerics most of them incumbents of country parishes who were also antiquaries, botanists, geologists, archeologists, musicians, novelists, poets, artists and so forth- and Baring-Gould, a magpie-minded man of astonishingly wide interests was undoubtedly in the

    forefront of such company, scholars who made a vivid and lasting im- pression on those with whom they came in contact. The Reverend F. W. Bussell for instance, who assisted Baring-Gould in his folksong re- searchess was famous for collecting ralldom manses and odd "donative" livings ("I am directly under the Pope", he would say) where he would arrive in a carriage and pair, and astonish the congregation by a solemn exit at different points in the service, when he would don another of his various hoods! and Baring- Gould was certainly no exception to such eccentricity. His principal ser- vice to the art of music was un- doubtedly his work for folksong- but Mr Bickford-Dickinson, his grandson, who writes the memoir to conclude the book under review must really be rid of his delusion that his grandfather was the first person to record folksong. He began his work in 1888-but as far back as 1843 the Reverend John Broad- wood (1798-1864) of Worthing, who later became Squire of Lyne in Sussex (the home of the Broadwood family), published a Sussex collection of English folksongs and Professor Robert Thomson amongst others believes that there is some authority for saying that songs were being collected as early as the late 18th century.

    There is in the Public Library at Plymouth a manuscript left there by Baring-Gould in which the un- edited originals both of "Songs of the West" (1890) and the later "Garland of Country Songs" (1895) are preserved and it is from this source that Mr Gordon Hitchcock has compiled the present collection. We have, in fact, waited for some ten years for this re-collection and the result is fifty-one songs which are intended to be, and indeed are, a more authentic supplement to the original. In fact, only some twenty- seven of the original songs from both

    91

    forefront of such company, scholars who made a vivid and lasting im- pression on those with whom they came in contact. The Reverend F. W. Bussell for instance, who assisted Baring-Gould in his folksong re- searchess was famous for collecting ralldom manses and odd "donative" livings ("I am directly under the Pope", he would say) where he would arrive in a carriage and pair, and astonish the congregation by a solemn exit at different points in the service, when he would don another of his various hoods! and Baring- Gould was certainly no exception to such eccentricity. His principal ser- vice to the art of music was un- doubtedly his work for folksong- but Mr Bickford-Dickinson, his grandson, who writes the memoir to conclude the book under review must really be rid of his delusion that his grandfather was the first person to record folksong. He began his work in 1888-but as far back as 1843 the Reverend John Broad- wood (1798-1864) of Worthing, who later became Squire of Lyne in Sussex (the home of the Broadwood family), published a Sussex collection of English folksongs and Professor Robert Thomson amongst others believes that there is some authority for saying that songs were being collected as early as the late 18th century.

    There is in the Public Library at Plymouth a manuscript left there by Baring-Gould in which the un- edited originals both of "Songs of the West" (1890) and the later "Garland of Country Songs" (1895) are preserved and it is from this source that Mr Gordon Hitchcock has compiled the present collection. We have, in fact, waited for some ten years for this re-collection and the result is fifty-one songs which are intended to be, and indeed are, a more authentic supplement to the original. In fact, only some twenty- seven of the original songs from both

    91

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  • collections have been reproduced here, almost all with the original tunes and with the original words.

    I find it hard to believe that it was really necessary for Baring-Gould and his associates to alter some of the original words at all!! Such ghastly doggerrel they sometimes substituted!!

    The songs are, as one would expect, excellent-but Mr Hitch- cock is not always quite accurate in his compilation of notes: for example, he writes of "Widdecombe Fair", I suppose the most famous song in the collection, that the song was printed in "Songs of the West" with verse 5 omitted. He omits to in- form us however, that there is here an extra verse (7) which was also not included in the original- so we have 10 verses here as opposed to the original 8. The format of the present volume is most disappointing -it is the same width as my copy of "Songs of the West" and about an inch shorter-not at all the size that would have been really useful for the pockets of our young modern singers -and neither indeed is the price!

    I suppose that Messrs. David and Charles must have been thinking in terms of music-stands at music festivals-but this is not what is really wanted today, if the songs are to be re-sung in the folksong clubs. The notes are, in most cases, simply

    a re-hash of what Baring-Gould (with a great deal of assistance from the Reverend H. Fleetwood Shep- pard and the Reverend Dr F. W. Bussell-and, in later editions, Cecil Sharp himself) wrote.

    There are no illustrations or photographs of any of the grand old singers who provided the matelial- in spite of the fact that there are numerous almost blank pages throughout the book. Not even the author is frontispieced-and there is a splendid portrait by Melton Fisher R.A. in existence.

    I am also doubtful whether the selection is altogether what it might have been. It would have been good, for example, to have had the original versions of songs like "The Hunting of Arscott with Tetcott" a grand tune, in which even the re-hashed words are splendid-and "A Week's Work Well Done" to mention but two.

    It would appear that the only concession made to the modem folk-club scene lies in the guitar chords and I am delighted to be able to end this review with a special tribute to my dear friend Patrick Shuldham-Shaw for work, as usual, very well done indeed. The dedica- tion is, I observe, also to him. I could have wished it to appear at the head of a more worthy work.

    KENNETH LOVELESS

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    Article Contentsp. 91p. 92

    Issue Table of ContentsFolk Music Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Music of the Travelling People (1975), pp. 1-96Front Matter [pp. 1-1][Photograph]: Frank Stewart Howes 1891-1974Editorial [p. 2]The Singing Tradition of Irish Travellers [pp. 3-30]Irish Travellers around London [pp. 31-40]Scottish Tinker Songs [pp. 41-62]English Gypsy Songs [pp. 63-80]ReviewsReview: untitled [p. 81]Review: untitled [pp. 81-84]Review: untitled [pp. 84-85]Review: untitled [pp. 85-86]Review: untitled [p. 87]Review: untitled [pp. 87-88]Review: untitled [pp. 88-89]Review: untitled [pp. 89-90]Review: untitled [pp. 90-91]Review: untitled [pp. 91-92]

    ObituariesJeannie Robertson, 1908-1975 [pp. 93-94]Mrs Los Blake 1890-1974 [pp. 94-95]Frank Howes 1891-1974 [pp. 95-96]

    Back Matter

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