This ballad begins: 'Will you gang awa' wi' me bonny lassie O, / Across th' Atlantic sea bonny lassie O'. It was published by McIntosh of 96 King Street, Calton, which is in Glasgow. The sheet is illustrated with a faded woodcut depicting a soldier in Highland military dress.
Laments and sentimental songs on the subject of leaving Scotland or Ireland are common around the world, as both these countries experienced high levels of emigration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The National Library of Scotland holds a number of other sheets on the same theme, including The Irish Emigrant' and 'The Song of the Emigrant'.
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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