Modern Street Ballads

Louis Antoine Jullien was born at Sisteron, Basses Alpes, April 23, 1812. His father was a band-master, hence probably his love of music. He knew well how to cater for a popular taste, and to him we owe not only the Promenade Concerts, which have brought good music into the amusements of the people, but a vast improvement in the English orchestra. His band was the best of its time; indeed, he spared no expense to procure the very best instrumental and vocal performers. He died March 14, 1860. As a composer, dance music was his great forte, and he was the first to seize on the Polka, which was introduced into England about 1844. This dance became an absolute furore. Everything was Polka—Polka jackets, bonnets, cigars, etc. In fact, as one popular song ran—

“Don’t you dance the Polka?
Won’t you dance the Polka?
Joys of earth are little worth,
If you don’t dance the Polka.”


Oh! sure the world is all run mad,
The lean, the fat, the gay, the sad,—
All swear such pleasure they never had,
Till they did learn the Polka.

First cock up your right leg so,
Balance on your left great toe,
Stamp your heels and off you go,
To the original Polka. Oh!

There’s Mrs. Tibbs the tailor’s wife,
With Mother Briggs is sore at strife,
As if the first and last of life,
Was but to learn the Polka.

Quadrilles and Waltzes all give way,
For Jullien’s Polkas bear the sway,
The chimney sweeps, on the first of May,
Do in London dance the Polka.

If a pretty girl you chance to meat,
With sparkling eyes and rosy cheek,
She’ll say, young man we’ll have a treat,
If you can dance the Polka.

A lady who lives in this town,
Went and bought a Polka gown,
And for the same she gave five pound
All for to dance the Polka.

But going to the ball one night,
On the way she got a dreadful fright,
She tumbled down, and ruined quite,
The gown to dance the Polka.

A Frenchman he has arrived from France
To teach the English how to dance,
And fill his pocket,—”what a chance”—
By gammoning the Polka.

Professors swarm in every street,
’Tis ground on barrel organs sweet,
And every friend you chance to meet,
Asks if you dance the Polka.

Then over Fanny Ellsler came,
Brilliant with trans-Atlantic fame,
Says she I’m German by my name,
So best I know the Polka.

And the row de dow she danced,
And in short clothes and red heels pranced,
And, as she skipped, her red heels glanced
In the Bohemian Polka.

But now my song is near its close,
A secret, now, I will disclose,
Don’t tell, for it’s beneath the rose,
A humbug is the Polka.

Then high for humbug France or Spain,
Who brings back our old steps again,
Which John Bull will applaud amain
Just as he does the Polka.

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