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lennium, when boys and girls shall have almond rock and cakes for nuffin,'
• Tipplers will get tight three times a day,' farmers will learn to double their miserable eight shillings a week for the labouring man, and in the midst of the universal rejoicing, 'little Johnny' himself
His little body he will strut, sir,
When we get the New Reform.' But the house of Russell is not to be trusted, as we learn from our next ballad on “Little Johnny, O!' which is prefaced by a few stinging questions and answers. “Now, my child,' says the catechist, "what is your name?'
* Weathercock Johnny, alias Jack the Reformer. Having answered to his name, he is told that first he has to 'amend his ways which are in a most shaky condition;' secondly, “to take a few of Palmerston's Pills to invigorate his political system ;' and thirdly, "to stick
for the people, and speak up according to his size as long as he remains in office;' while Gladstone is implored to keep his weather eye open and jog the memory of his fellow-servant John, so as to guide his little feet if he should chance to stray from the right path.'
As for the question of Reform itself, it's a mere cry and nothing more. His interrogators insult the little statesman by hoping that “Reform will so apply to railways that they shall supply a sufficient number of surgeons with splints and bandages to each train, with a good supply of coffins for those who are headstrong enough to travel by rail.' As to the processions, and grand Agricultural Hall meetings, they are vox et præterea nihil,'-
Many they aloud will shout,
For Reform, Reform,
Bawl Reform, Reform. Such was the state of things only a few months ago; but alas for the fickleness of the crowd, the intelligent artisan, and the ' working man,' by the time we get to the date of “The Reform Battle in Hyde Park' all is changed. The noble Earl and all his Whiggish allies are for a time clean wiped out and forgotten, and the poet now reserves all his vials of wrath for
• The titled tories who keep you down
Which you cannot endure,
There are some ten other stanzas of a like calibre, but though Mr. Catnach has enriched them with a most graphic woodcut (date 1832) representing one Bishop, the Duke of Wellington, and Sir Robert Peel, headed by little Johnny'carrying a banner of Victoria and Reform,' all issuing in triumph from St. Stephen's School,' the whole thing is a mere piece of idle banter, which never rises above the level of a noisy chorus between people and bobbies, roughs and iron railings.
Even in the two latest of the Political Ballads, bearing date the middle of February, just as Parliament opened, and the titled Tories were tried, convicted, and condemned at the Agricultural Hall under the fiery sway of the impassioned O'Donoghuebefore it was even known for what crimes they were indictedeven in these there is little more than abuse for that “poor outcast' the member for Calne, and unfortunate Mr. Doulton.
The Royal Ballads are but three in number,-on the death of the Prince Consort, the marriage of the Prince of Wales, and the birth of his eldest son,—and of these we may take, as a sample, the · Elegy on the Death of H.R.H. Prince Albert,' surmounted by a portrait of the Prince as he appeared on the morning of his Marriage,' and edged with a broad margin of black. The poet is lost in grief, and his mournful numbers flow heavily as he tells of Britannia lamenting and calling on the daughters of Britain to join in sorrowful condolence with their beloved Queen:
• We grieve for thy loss, Queen Victoria
And all over Britain deplore
and thy Albert's no more.” He extols her Majesty as “A mother, a Queen, and a wife,' and implores the choicest blessings of Heaven on her, and on the dear Royal children,' who
• Their dear royal hearts are bewildering
On earth they will see him no more ;
And from which there can no one return.' This may be very homely sympathy, but it is respectful and hearty. The poet hardly dares to intrude on the privacy of the Royal mourners, but with kindly hand touches on the many virtues of the departed Prince, claiming for him that from men of all ranks, From all men below and above'
he won universal love and respect, that for "The Institutions he was always the right man,' while the poor found in him a 'free and helping hand.' And in these words the writer not only expresses the verdict of the nation but gives utterance to a far deeper feeling of loyal sympathy with his bereaved Queen, which triumphs over all the miseries of sorry rhyme and indifferent orthography. Thousands and tens of thousands of Her Majesty's poorest subjects were purchasers of this Halfpenny Ballad, and felt the national loss as deeply as those who could appreciate the poet Laureate's nobler song of sorrow
O silent Father of our Kings to be
These Halfpenny Sheets form almost the entire poetry of Seven Dials, and though they teach little or no history, they show, at least, what kind of Poetry finds the most favourable reception and the readiest sale among our lowest classes. As far as we can ascertain, there are in London eight or ten publishers of the Fortey and Disley stamp—though not on so large a scale. Of Ballad-singers and patterers of prose recitations (such as the * Political Catechism ') there may be about a hundred scattered over the metropolis, who haunt such localities as the New Cut, Tottenham Court Road, Whitechapel, and Clerkenwell Green ; and according to the weather, the state of trade, and the character of their wares, earn a scanty or a jovial living by chanting such strains as we have now laid before our readers. ‘Songs if they're over-religious,' says one minstrel, don't sell at all; though a tidy moral does werry well. But a good, awful, murder's the thing. I've knowed,' says our authority, 'a man sell a reamţ a day of them,—that's twenty dozen you know;' and this sale may go on for days, so that, with forty or fifty men at work as minstrels, a popular Ballad will soon attain a circulation of thirty or forty or fifty thousand. Now and then “Catnach’ himself composes a Song, and in this case is saved the cost of copyright, though his expenses are very trilling, even when he has to purchase it. If one of the patterers writes a Ballad on a taking subject, he hastens at once to Seven Dials, where, if accepted, his reward is 'a glass of rum, a slice of cake, and five dozen copies,'—which, if the accident or murder be a very
awful one, are struck off for him while he waits. A murder
* Tennyson's · Exhibition Ode,' July, 1862.
† A ream costs him 38. in Seven Dials, and these he retails at a halfpenny each, or even a penny, if the murder is a very fearful one, as in Müller's case, thus reaping a harvest of 250 or 300 per cent.
always sells well, so does a fire, or a fearful railway accident. A good love story embracing
infidi perjuria nautæ
Deceptamque dolo nympham'" often does fairly; but Politics among the lowest class are a drug. Even the famous 'Ballad on Pam's death didn't do much except among the better sort of people ;' and though the roughs are fond enough of shouting Reform, they don't care, it would seem, to spend money on it. • We have submitted this wretched doggrel to our readers, that they may form some idea of the kind of Street Literature which is still popular with so many of the lower classes. It is humiliating, in the midst of all the schools and teaching of the present day, to find such rubbish continually poured forth, and eagerly read. Still there are some redeeming features in this weary
Taken as a whole, the moral tone of the ballads, if not lofty, is certainly not bad ; and the number of single stanzas that could not be quoted in these pages on account of their or indecent language is very small; while that of entire Ballads, to be excluded on the same ground, is still smaller.
Compared with a volume of the famous · Roxburghe Ballads,' which range between the years 1560 and 1700, our present five hundred from Seven Dials are models of purity and cleanliness. In the second volume of that famous collection there are about 580 Ballads, or broadsides, printed as ours still are on sheets of the thinnest and commonest paper; and at least three-fourths of these (especially of the later dates) are so grossly, openly indecent, as to be incapable of quotation. A few are slightly political, and refer to such topics as the Meal-tub Plot;' and a few to such themes as shipwrecks, and naval fights ; but the majority are broadly and coarsely amorous; evidently written by persons above the lowest rank, for the express purpose
of raising indecent and unclean thoughts in the minds of their readers; not by hinted indelicacy or vulgar coarseness of style, but by studied filthiness. No such nastiness is to be found in the Halfpenny Ballads of Seven Dials ; though there is abundance of slang, vulgarity, and occasional coarseness of expression. For open indecency and grosser pruriency we must go to a class of songs and song-books, authors and customers, of a higher class; to penny and twopenny and sixpenny packets of uncleanness, to some of the minor Music Halls, where delicacies are to be had at a price beyond the reach of the New Cut. The
men who wrote the filthy Ballads in the 'Roxburghe Collection' were of a far higher class than those who write for Seven Dials; and they found higher readers amid the wide-spread deep depravity of their day. The thousands who now buy the Halfpenny Ballads of St. Giles's, would rise to better taste, and the appreciation of higher models, if they had a higher class of authors, and a nobler range of verse. For, though the poet to reach them must needs be to some extent one of themselves,must understand their ways of life, and forms of speech,—there is no need that he should be as ignorant, or vulgar, or vitiated as those for whom he writes. The Disley or Fortey of the day prints his ten or twenty thousand of The Oakham Poachers' or “The Prince of Wales' Baby,' because these subjects are all the rage at the moment, and he can get no better minstrelsy so cheap. But there are yet in the minds and hearts of the poorest class, who can read and enjoy a Halfpenny Ballad on the
Awful Accident in Hyde Park,' deeper feelings, and purer tastes ready to spring up under the least culture, and, if fairly appealed to, to be brought out into full life and bear abundant and goodly fruit. They have no peculiar relish for bad spelling, or for faulty rhyme. Feeling and intelligence, a sense of such inborn goodness as Miss Nightingale's; a love of fair play, and an old-fashioned liking for what is true and brave; a keen sense of the ludicrous, and a deep current of loyalty to the throne and to their native land, yet linger in the thousands who look to Seven Dials for inspiration. If any real poet should arise who would be content to sing in good, plain, honest Saxon, such topics as they love to hear; of men and women great in goodness or in vice, of life and death in their widest sense, of crime and disaster, of human sorrows and joys whether in Chick Lane or Windsor Castle ; he would achieve an immortality not far below that of the silver clarion' of Tennyson himself. We do not despair of his advent, and the sooner he comes the better for Seven Dials; and for us all.
ART. VI.- A Journey to Ashango-Land and further Penetration
into Equatorial Africa. By Paul B. Du Chaillu. London : 1867. THEN Mr. Du Chaillu published, in 1861, his “Explora
tions in Equatorial Africa,' the book met, in several quarters, with an unfavourable, not to say hostile reception. Some of his critics went so far as to assert that the work was a fiction, and that the author had not travelled in the interior of Africa