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Thomas Philips, Lord Chesterfield and the enigma of a popular 18th-century ballad by William Boyce: a new conspiracy theory


While many collections included airs taken from theatre pieces, art songs, even oratorio or operatic arias, the repertoire was dominated by ballads - essentially lyrical, unsophisticated strophic settings of sentimental verses, often pastoral in character, and for the most part in a simple binary form. The prevailing climate may be summarised in the words of Ambrose Thomas, a contemporary poet, in his prefatory essay to a song-text collection: 'Every pert young fellow that has a roving fancy, and the least jingle of verse in his head, sets up for a writer of songs, and resolves to immortalize his bottle, or his mistress.

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									Thomas Philips,
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