203. K&P on the London Stage, 1893: “Mary Ann Maginty (Smoking Song)”

Three years before K&P’s first catalog and three years after Charles Peterson’s first patent, the Peterson Patent Pipe made its debut on the London music hall stage in E. W. Rogers’s “Mary Ann McGinty (Smoking Song).”

Edwin William Rogers (1863-1913) was a fairly prolific English songwriter for music hall performers at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, remembered for “Ask a P’Liceman” and “Lambeth Walk” among others.

As the cover of the New York-issue of the sheet music proclaims, “Mary Ann Maginty” was “Sung & Smoked by Walter Munroe, also by Miss Maggie Dugan.” According to the Footlight Notes blog, Munroe (1866?–1928) was “a music hall agent and sometime entertainer,” and Duggan a well-liked chanteuse with versatile comedic talents.

In the September 9th edition of The Era, a British weekly paper (1838-1939) that was noted for its theatrical and sports coverage, Munroe took out the following ad:

Success enormous. Everyone delighted with New Song, the
Famous Travestie on Mr Horace Wheatley’s song “After
the Ball,” “After the Ball,” by Powell & Arnold, pub-
lished by B.Mocatta and Co.

MR WALTER MUNROE

begs to inform Managers of Music Halls, Theatres, and
Burlesque Companies, that his Smoking Song, “Mary Ann
Maginty,” must not be used in any way without his written
consent. Miss Mary Duggan is the only Artiste who has any
right. Written and Composed by E. W. Rodgers; published
by Francis Bros. & Day; Pipe, by Kapp and Peterson,
Dublin. Agent, Macdermott. (bold added)

 

A music hall audience of the period: notice the tables for eating and drinking.
The ladies don’t seem to be having much fun, do they?

The song thus seems to have been performed either by Munroe or by Duggan, but not as a duet. Either way, it’s a bit of a pipe smoker’s comic fantasy: Mary Ann’s boy must smoke or she’ll have nothing to do with him! (So much for progress, lads.) Music halls were fairly rowdy places at the time and rarely frequented by respectable young women. Derek B. Scott writes that “the saucy song with a sexual theme was part of music hall from its beginnings,” and this one is no exception:

I’m in love with a nice young girl, that’s so, you know,
Eyes like violets and teeth like pearl, a treat, complete,
She consented when first I met her
She would have me, for worse or better,
Oh! to clasp her waist so slender,
She is the best of the feminine gender.
Here she is, good ’biz! “How do? How’re you?
Pa’s out, no doubt! to-night? All right!”
I’m off to seek the kitchen fire,
And spoon the charmer I admire.

Chorus:
She’s sweet, neat, small feet, och bedad she is a treat!
Face, style, grace, smile, lips you feel you’d like to eat,
Hair fair, form rare, just the girl you’d like to spoon,
And I’m in love with Mary Ann Maginty, and I’ll marry her to-morrow afternoon.

My girl says she must have a beau who smokes and jokes,
Smoke’s a thing makes me bad you know, bedad, so bad
She says, “Lovely tobacco, bliss is”
Always asks me for smoky kisses,
To please her this smoke I’m whiffing,
But my feelings are not at all ‘spiffing.’
When I smoke, no joke, the ground goes round,
Brain whirls, head twirls, I’m ill, but still
My heart my feelings gets above,
And all because the girl I love.

Chorus

Sometimes when I am out with her, Oh dear, I’m queer!
I feel just like a half-drowned cur, a sight, so white,
She says, “What’s the matter lovey?”
And I answer, “Spasms, dovey!”:
But my pipe will soon confuse me,
I say, “Love, you must pray excuse me
I’m off to meet old pal, next street, half tick,
Be quick, I’m queer, pain here,
I feel it, but keep on I must,
I’ll sing this chorus though I bust.

Chorus

The original song from which this “travestie” was taken was “After the Ball” by Charles K. Harris. You can hear it in two period recordings here and here, to get an idea of the tune. I’m sure it was a hoot to see “Mary Ann Maginty” performed by Munroe, ducking stage right to be faux-nauseated from too much “Vitamin N.” And what of Duggan? I wonder if she sang it as the character of Mary Ann?

Cabinet photo of Duggan courtesy the National Portrait Gallery

The month after Munroe’s ad appeared in The Era another mention of K&P came in the London music news, this time in The Music Hall issue for October 20, 1893, p. 19:

Whether or not this uptick in The Era‘s use of Patent Systems was connected in any way to Munroe’s use of a Peterson in his recent performances, it’s certainly evidence of K&P’s increasing visibility among the public. While Miss Duggan seems to enjoy her cigarettes and Mr. Munroe holds a cigar on the sheet music cover, the fact that Munroe gave credit to K&P in his ad for The Era makes it obvious that, at least as a prop, the Patent System was more suitable than either cigar or cigarette and may have been something of a fad at the time. As to which Patent Munroe selected, there’s no way of knowing except that the larger the pipe, the easier it would have been seen by the audience.

The X.O.3 straight-sided billiard was the smallest
of the three oversize Patent House Pipes.

If you can get past the title, Derek Scott’s “Music Hall: Regulations and Behaviour in a British Cultural Institution” offers a fascinating look at what light entertainment was like in London during this period. Lovers of P. G. Wodehouse, Edwardian and late Victorian fiction will begin to understand the opportunities for getting in trouble young men of that period (and older ones, who should’ve known better) confronted in such establishments.

 

Thanks to Steven Hersey
for funding this article.

Thanks also to Marco Kapp
for his warmth and generosity
in sharing his family history.

 

 

Celtic Encircling Prayer for Pipe Smokers and Others

Circle me O God
Keep hope within
Despair without.

Circle me O God
Keep peace within
Keep turmoil out.

Circle me O God
Keep calm within
Keep storms without.

Circle me O God
Keep strength within
Keep weakness out.

 

Continue Reading 203. K&P on the London Stage, 1893: “Mary Ann Maginty (Smoking Song)”