Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jacobite Songs and Royal Weddings

This is a guest blog by French GeezerDude

Recently I was incited by a friend to gather information, so as to stay up to date on the British monarchy, in view of the oncoming Royal Wedding in case I would be invited.
I immediately reported to a site dedicated to Jacobite Songs which I started some years ago

Jacobite Songs?
Remember! The songs where the Tories vituperated the Whigs of old for having turned out the lawful Stuart monarch, James II, (“Jacobus” in Latin) to the benefit, a score of years later, of the German House of Hanover, those ugly usurpers who occupy the British throne ever since and are allowed to star in pageants at the cost of tax payers (after deduction of the income derived from the TV fees) in the three Kingdoms, whether they be Whigs or not …

As to that famous site, it contains, among others, this fact susceptible to appeal to the modern TV-watcher’s imagination:
First report to
Then click on the link:
E10 “A Parcel of Rogues” (in the 1st column, chapter “The Act of Union”)

The comment to this song (which was evidently composed by Robert Burns, but not acknowledged by its author), contains information on the curious bonds uniting the present Prince of Wales and his second wife, née Camilla Shand.
The latter appears to be the direct descendant of the Dutch General Arnold Joost van Keppel (1669 – 1718).
To use a cautious word, Keppel was the nearest “adherent” to William of Orange when he came to England in 1688 and snatched sceptre and crown from the hands of his father-in-law, the King of England, James the II. (Another Jacobite song, registered G22 “Here’s a Health to the King”, is more explicit and calls William, in verse 3, “A vile sodomite king”).
Rapidly, this young man, who had hardly rendered any service to his new country, was bending beneath the offices, titles and awards bestowed on him by his royal friend. (See link “Arnold Joost van Keppel's Descendants”   in the middle of the page “Parcel of Rogues”)
After William’s death (1702), van Keppel returned to the Netherlands and had offspring: he is the remote ancestor of Lt Col. George Keppel, the great grand-father to the present Duchess of Cornwall
But it could be also that Camilla’s maternal grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was a daughter of King Edward VII rather than of the Hon. George Keppel…

The site should be a comprehensive source of information for anyone interested in Jacobite songs and poems.
As in the present instance, these polemical or poetical texts often complete (and, maybe, correct?) the data gathered by the methods of orthodox history.
Unlike a printed book, the Internet site provides a tone background to each text, (as a rule a MIDI harmonization, sometimes completed with relevant U-tube videos or WAV clips), along with well-documented comments on tune and lyrics for over 550 pieces (for the time being):
Did you know what a “guy”really is? Or  what people were called “frogs” in the 17thcentury?
Did you know that haunting songs like “Adieu Dundee” or the “Lass of Livingstone” were originally bawdy ditties?
Did you know that the most offensive swearword contained, in Alexander McDonald’s Gaelic diatribe «German Cannibal», is also to be found, in plain English, in the earlier song, “Royal James”? …
In short, you should find there “every thing you always wanted to know about Jacobites but were afraid to ask “.

French-speaking connoisseurs will, I hope, appreciate the careful  French verse translations aiming at prolonging a tradition of verse transcription of Jacobite songs initiated by James Hogg and John Lorne Campbell for the Gaelic songs included in their collections.

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