This ballad begins: 'Ye Noblemen and Gentlemen / Who're come to join the Fun, / To see the Races o'er again, / And Nymphs upon the Town.' A note below the title states that this broadside was 'Hawked by a black badger, his secretary', and that the ballad should be sung to the air, ' O' a the arts the wind, &c'. Although the publisher is not named and the sheet is not dated, it was printed somewhere in Edinburgh.
This ballad continues the ancient tradition of the Reynard the Fox fables. These allegorical stories have existed in Europe for over 800 years, and tell of how a cunning fox regularly outwits a royal court made up of other animals. An advertisement below the ballad promotes the services of Peter Puzzlewit and Co., and lists the services that they offer. As no address is included, however, it could be that this funny surname is intended to continue the Reynard the Fox tradition of mysterious anonymity. The sporting ladies in question were, in all probability, prostitutes who had arrived in Edinburgh to entertain 'gentlemen', possibly at Leith races.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable period of publication:
1810-1830 shelfmark: L.C.1268
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