Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/48

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24
THE WESTERN FOLK

speaker on teetotalism was present and harangued. A temperance address is never relished without some horrible example held up to scorn. Well, here it was. "At a certain place called, last year, as Christmas drew on, the Guardians met to decide what fare should be afforded to the paupers for Christmas Day. Hitherto it had been customary for them to be given for their dinner a glass of ale—a glass of ale. I repeat it—at public cost—a glass of ale apiece. On that occasion the Guardians unanimously agreed that the paupers should have cocoa, and not ale. Then up stood the Rector—the Rector, I repeat—and in a loud and angry voice declared: 'Gentlemen, if you will not give them their drop of ale, I will.' And he—he, a minister of the gospel or considering himself as such."—(A shudder and a groan.) "I tell you more—I tell you something infinitely worse—he sent up to the workhouse a dozen of his old crusted port." (Cries of "Shame! shame!" and hisses.)

That, if you please, was the unpardonable sin.

If we are to look anywhere for local characteristics in the music of the people in any particular part of England, we may surely expect to find them in the western counties of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. These three counties have hitherto been out of the beaten track; they are more encompassed by the sea than others, and lead only to the Land's End.

And as a matter of fact, a large proportion of the melodies that have been collected from the peasantry in this region seem to have kept their habitation, and so to be unknown elsewhere.