This ballad begins: 'WHEN shameful vice presum'd our streets to tread, / And boist'rous Riot rear'd her lawless head, / When the Lord's sacred Sabbath was profan'd, / And fair EDINA'S character was stain'd.' Although the name of the publisher is not included, a note at the foot of the sheet states that it was published in Edinburgh in December, 1758.
Written in a highly erudite and lofty style, this ballad celebrates the achievements of the late Robert Montgomery, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh during the mid-eighteenth century. In this eulogy, the writer depicts Montgomery as a virtual saviour, who turned Edinburgh from a den of godless wickedness into the modern 'Athens of the North' - which is Edinburgh's nickname. It was certainly during this mid-century period that architects such as John Adams, designed and built many of Edinburgh's finest buildings. After singing his praises, the writer concludes by saying that all the citizens of Edinburgh send out their love to the recently departed Lord Provost.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Date of publication:
1758 shelfmark: APS.4.87.44
View larger image