The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #155519 Message #3659104
Posted By: Reinhard
10-Sep-14 - 03:45 PM
Thread Name: Ballads not included in Child
Subject: RE: Ballads not included in Child
See also E. David Gregory's article An Opportunity Fumbled: Francis James Child and the Late Victorian Folksong Revival in England (2009). He concludes it with:
The strict division that Child attempted to make between broadside balladry as a form of "low art" and traditional balladry as "popular poetry" no longer seems viable or useful. We now recognize that oral and print traditions were inextricably intermingled from the sixteenth century through the nineteenth. The broadside ballad was still alive and well in the Late Victorian era. Not only were broadsheets still being printed and sold, large numbers of the genre had taken root in oral tradition and become vernacular songs. A list of them all―and it would have to be considerably longer than forty-three―would be tedious, but to illustrate the point let me at least mention ten: "The Banks of Sweet Dundee," "Bold General Wolfe," "The Bonny Bunch of Roses," "The Death of Bill Brown," "The Deserter," "Napoleon's Farewell to Paris," "Spencer the Rover," "Turpin Hero," "The Unfortunate Rake" and "Van Dieman's Land." These, and many, many more, were extant in English oral tradition. Child, like Baring-Gould, did believe that the best broadsides were often corrupt or modified versions of "popular" ballads that professional ballad- mongers had once heard sung by tradition-bearers and then adapted for their own commercial purposes. At least in some instances, then, there was presumably a "remote possibility" that such texts were debased relics of "something genuine and better". It seems a pity that he was not more willing to follow the advice of his lamented friend Grundtvig and give more of them the benefit of the doubt.
The essential conclusion to be drawn from this brief examination of Francis James Child's awareness of and response to the Late Victorian folksong revival in England is that one cannot rely on The English and Scottish Popular Ballads to provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of the state of English traditional balladry at the time. In this respect Child's great work is inadequate in four ways. First, not all known English variants of ballads in the canon were integrated by Child into the collection. Some he knew about but still failed to print, as in the case of nearly half of those submitted by Baring-Gould. Others had already been collected from oral tradition by Broadwood, Kidson, Alexander Barrett and others, but he remained unaware of them because he failed to communicate much with the English collectors. Second, there was a small group of seemingly traditional ballads that were which Child disregarded or was not aware of. They included "The Broken Token," "The Trees They Are So High," "Death and the Lady," and "The Setting of the Sun." Third, there were many splendid broadside ballads that Child rejected as merely the work of eighteenth-century ballad-mongers but which clearly found favor among English source singers and often had earlier roots. And fourth, Child failed to include in his Appendix of "Ballad Airs from Manuscripts" any of the melodies noted from oral tradition by the Late Victorian collectors. Baring-Gould might have played for England the role William Macmath played for Scotland in helping Child to make his collection more reflective of oral tradition, but, perhaps because of old age and failing health, the American scholar failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to make contact with the leading pioneers of the first English folksong revival.
(I found this cited by Vic Gammon in the booklet of A.L. Lloyd's CD "Bramble Briars and Beams of the Sun")