This political ballad begins: 'WAKE! Scotland, wake! from thy long sleep, / Thy foes with stealthy footsteps creep, / And try to rob thee of thy name, / The dowry of a deathless fame, / Which Wallace, Bruce, and Douglas true, / Left as a heritage to you.' There are no publication details for this sheet.
Illustrated with a woodcut of a castle flying the Lion Rampant flag, this patriotic ballad makes an emotional appeal for Scottish Home Rule. The author tries to win the audience's sympathy, by lining up an impressive pageant of heroes from Scotland's glorious past. Thus, the martial glories of Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) and William Wallace (c. 1274-1305) are contrasted with the machinations of Westminster politicians such as Sir William Gladstone (1809-98) and Viscount John Morley (1823-96). The ballad is very similar in subject matter to Robert Burns' (1759-96) famous song, 'Scots Wha Hae'.
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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