The tune is mentioned in mid-19th century journalist Henry Mayhew's remarkable and sympathetic series of interviews with the poor in Victorian England, contained in his book London Labour and the London Poor.
Street organ players were common in London, eking out a living playing selections for a few coins:
There is two ‘Liverpool Hornpipe’. I know one these twenty years. Then com ‘The Ratcatcher’s Daughter’; he is a English song. It’s get a little old; but when it’s first come out the poor people do like it, but the gentlemens they like more the opera, you know. After that is what you call ‘Minnie’, another English song.
He is middling popular. He is not one of the new tune, but they do like it. The next one is a Scotch contre-danse. It is good tunes, but I don’t know the name of it. The next one is, I think, a polka; but I think he’s made from part of ‘Scotische’. There is two or three tunes belongs to the ‘Scotische’. The next one is, I think, a valtz of Vienna.
I don’t know which one, but I say to the organman, ‘I want a valtz of Vienna’; and he say, ‘Which one? Because there is plenty of valtz of Vienna’. Of course, there is nine of them. After the opera music, the valtz and the polka is the best music in the organ…It won’t do to have all opera music in my organ. You must have some opera tunes for the gentlemen, and some for the poor people, and they like the dancing tune. Dere is some for the gentlemens and some for the poor peoples.
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Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.
- Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, London, 1861, p. 176.