chapter  13
Isaiah Sully
Pages 11

AmongtheoldfolksingersIknewandvisitedwheneverIcould, IsaiahSullystandspre-eminent.Hewaseasilythemostoutstanding,hewasalsoquiteeasilythemostwicked.

Hecame,onegatheredthroughcommentsdroppedoverthe twentyyearsIknewhim,ofastockreachingbackthroughthe centuriestothetravellingminstrelswhojourneyedfromcastleto castleandearlymanorinSomerset,singinganddancingandearningafullmealwherevertheywent.Theymostprobablyfollowed theirfeudallordsthroughtheFrenchwarsinthefourteenth century,and,returningwiththemtoamorepeacefulEngland, weregivenpern'lissiontotravelwhenevertheirLordsdidnot requiretheirimmediateservices.Manyofthedisjointedancient fragmentsofballadsIheardweresuggestiveofFrenchRomaunts. Hisname,too,wasFrench,althoughasTauntonhadreceivedits invasionofHuguenotrefugeesintheseventeenthcentury,itwas notthereforenoticeable.Ofcourse,hisnamewasnotIsaiahSully. (Ihavecarefullyselectedaprofessionaloneforhim,forsomeof hissecondfamilymaybestillaliveandmightbeveryupsetto realizethatforalltheirsuppressionofhispublicartisticworks hewasmorethanasinnerpluckedfromtheburningbytheir unitedefforts.)

Asafoot-looseyoungfellowinthe1840's,hewasindemand ateverylocalfairintheSouth-WesternCounties.Asasingerhe

wasnotableforthepurityofhisvoiceandhissubjectmatter!His acting,however,wassomethingelseagain,andthequickwitand scurrilityofhisdialoguewasindirectfolkplaytradition.Asa dancerhemusthavebeenagileindeed-somestepsIsawhimdo asachildwereanintricateandfineshowoffoot-workwithsome wonderfulleaps.Hewouldthenhavebeenroundeighty.