The Great Vance in character for his song, ‘Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,’ London, 1865

April 30, 2014

song sheet cover for the popular song, Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre, ‘written composed & sung by A.G. Vance with the greatest success every where.’
‘You can see by my hair and refinement
I’m no hupstart, my manners is calm
And I hold the most noble appointment,
Of Lord Crackwitt’s valet de chambre.’
(probably based on a photograph of Vance in character; lithograph by Concanen & Siebf, published by Hopwood & Crew, London, probably 1865)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – Having seen a letter in The Era relative to Mr. Vance, styling himself the author of ”The perambulator,” I beg to say it is not the only instance of the kind. Some time ago I composed a song called ”The Valet de Chambre; or, Adolphe Simpkins,” and gave it to Mr. Vance upon the condition that he should say it was written by ”F.H.” (myself), and that if published, ”F.H.” would appear on the title-page as the author. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the identical song published by Messrs. Hopwood and Crew, and announced as ”written, composed, and sung by the Great Vance.” The meanness, to say the least, of the transaction, is apparent, and although Mr. Crayon is an entire stranger to me, it may be some consolation for him to know he is not the only victim of the great (?) Vance’s deception. Trusting to your love of fair play to insert this, and apologising for my intrusion, I remain, sir, yours obediently, FRED. HAXBY, 24, Montpelier-street, Brompton, S.W.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 10 September 1865, p. 10b)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – In your impression of last week a person singing himself Fredk. Haxby, in a letter dictated in a strain of virulence and personal animosity towards myself and my professional career which must be patent to even the most obtuse reader, accuses me of appropriating to myself the authorship of my well-known song, ”Adolphe Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,” declaring that he himself is the originator of the song in question. Sir, to that false and, it may be, libellous communication I shall next week offer an undeniable and complete refutation, such a refutation as shall recoil on your ill-advised correspondent. Meanwhile, my solicitor is much obliged to Mr. F.H. For his considerate kindness in publishing the address of his present lodgings, as for a considerable period he has vainly sought it. I trust, Sir, with your wonted impartiality, you will insert this reply to a groundless attack upon my name and fame, as at this crisis, when my grand benefit at the Strand Music Hall comes off on the 22d of this month, it would otherwise do me an incalculable amount of injury with my friends and the public. – I remain, Sir, yours, A.G. VANCE.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 17 September 1865, p. 10a)

(It seems likely that Fredk. Haxby was a figment of Vance’s imagination and that the first of these letters, like the second, originated from his own hand.)

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