Mudcat Café message #3995265 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12986   Message #3995265
Posted By: Joe Offer
04-Jun-19 - 07:45 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes
Subject: RE: Origins: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes
From Fuld's Book of World Famous Music, (Crown Publishers, 1966) pp 202-203

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes

m. Unknown. w. Ben Jonson The words were first published after March, 1616, in the poem To Celia in a collection of poems by Jonson called The Forrest, included in The Workes of Benjamin Jonson, at p. 829. There are three variant editions: in one the title page reads “Imprinted at London by Will Stansby” (BM), in the second “London printed by W. Stansby and are to be sould by Rich. Meighen” (BM and LC), and in the third “London Printed by William Stansby (LC and NYPL). Priority is unknown. Commencing about 1750 the poem was sung to several other musical settings all of which have been forgotten.

The present well-known melody was first published about 1780 in a number of editions with priority uncertain, none of them claiming entry at Stationers’ Hall. Interestingly, all of the early printings, except (g) below, are in the form of a glee for three voices. Following is the group of early printings:

All attempts to discover the composer of this beautiful melody have proved unavailing.7 There is no foundation for the claim that the composer was Mozart or Col. R. Mellish. A new possible contender is J. W. Callcott since his collection mentioned above states “the whole Composed, Selected & Arranged” by him—about as broad a claim as could be made. The collection could have been published after 1785 even though individual songs had been composed by him and performed and published by others before then; although born in 1766, he began writing music for a play in 1780 and glees for the Catch Club in 1784.8 Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes is generally described as a glee in the early editions, and none of the editions listed in the preceding paragraph is proved to have been published before this time. All the other songs in the collection appear original.

Ben Jonson was born probably at Westminster in 1573 and died in 1637.