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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 524

updated
Saturday, 22 September 2007

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

W.H. Lingard

William Horace Lingard (1838-1927)
English comic vocalist, actor manager and dramatic author,
featured in character on the song sheet cover of F.C. Sansom's 'Sal and Methuselam,'
which he sang in London music halls during 1866/67.

(published by The British and American Music Publishing Co Ltd,
London, 1866, artwork by Alfred Concanen, probably after a photograph, 1866)

William Horace Lingard first came to notice in the mid 1860s as a talented comic singer on the English music hall stage, particularly in London, where he made appearances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square; the Metropolitan, Edgware Road; Gatti's, Westminster Bridge Road; the Philharmonic, Islington; Weston's, Holborn; the Marylebone and others. Noted for his impersonations and quick change work, audiences especially enjoyed his performances in songs such as 'Statues' for which he presented a 'living gallery' of celebrities, including Napoleon III and the late Lord Palmerston.

Although Lingard also enjoyed success as a female impersonator, an aspect of his performances which has been made much of in recent years, his repertoire and talents were a good deal wider. He and his wife, Alice Dunning Lingard, a former music hall dancer, first visited the United States in 1868, appearing in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere, where they remained for some time. They and their company also travelled further afield, notably to Australia and New Zealand where in the late 1870s they gave unauthorized performances of Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, and to the Far East. Eventually the couple returned to England, where Alice died in 1897, to become firm favourites on tour. W.H. Lingard continued to work into his old age, dying at the age of 89 in 1927.

For further information, see Kurt Gänzl, The Encyclopedia of The Musical Theatre, Blackwell, Oxford, vol. II, p. 865.

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At first reading F.C. Sansom's 'Sal and Methuselam' would appear to be a touching account of a lovelorn young couple whose chance of happiness together is wrecked by the girl, Sal's mother who believes her daughter is too good for Methuselam. The old lady forbids the relationship whereupon Methuselam runs away to become a soldier and is killed; Sal, on the other hand, remaining alone at home, commits suicide by swallowing an oyster, shell and all. A touching story it may be but one has the distinct impression that in Lingard's comic delivery it would have appealed to his mid Victorian audiences' sense of dark humour and fair play. Although one cannot help feeling sorry for Sal, Methuselam and his prospective mother-in-law are less deserving of sympathy. He, a 'nice' young man, described as 'a Cat distroyer on a Saussage Machine' (presumably meaning that he was in the shady business of duping the honest public into buying sausages made from dead cats) no less than Sal's interfering mother, richly deserve their fates, the latter ultimately haunted to her wits' end when Sal and Methuselam are translated into ghosts.

For an interesting sidelight on the contemporaneous market in sausages, see 'Veiled Mysteries' on Lee Jackson's wonderful Victorian London web site.

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'Sal and Methuselam'
written and composed by F.C. Sansom

Come give me your attention; and on me do not frown,
While I sing to you of a dreadful fate - that happened in Kentish Town -
It's all about two turtle doves - the truth now telling I am,
The Christian name of the Girl was Sal - and his was Methuselam.

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

Now this young Sal was a nice young Gal - and well known near and far -
She stood in the strand with an oyster stand - where a Swell would oft light his Cigar,
Her lover to thrive every morning at five - toddled off to his work like a lamb -
He was a Cat distroyer on a Saussage Machine was young Methuselam.

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

Now when Sal's Mother heard that her daughter - was keeping com-pan-y -
With the man that worked the Saussage Machine how bitterly she did cry.
She vowed they never should Married be - as long as the world should stand
Ah - for she loved her daughter very much - but she hated Methuselam.

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

Methuselam was a nice young man - and well known far and near -
For working all day at his Saussage Machine and seldom drinking much beer
When he heard he could'nt have Sal for his wife - his spirits they sank very low
So one morn on the Sly without saying goodbye - for a Sodger [i.e. soldier] he did go

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

When Sal poor Gal she heard the news - right down her throat did chuck it
The largest oyster in the stand - (Shell and all) which caused her to kick the bucket
And when Methuselam head of this - his senses began to crack,
In the wars one day while running away - he was shot with a ball in the back.

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

The old woman's house is haunted now - every night about 12 o'clock,
She sees a most horrible sight - that gives her a terrible shock,
The Ghosts of Sal and Methuselam - as they glide by her side, hand in hand
Whilst right behind 'em comes marching along - 'The Ghost of the Oyster Stand.'

Chorus.
The girl was fair I do declare - and he was a nice young man,
Respected by all - both great and small - was Sal and Methuselam.

W.H. Lingard

W. Horace Lingard

(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1875)

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