The first verse begins: 'Oh! Reform now it is the rage, / Wherever you may go; / Mr. Bright now of the present age, / The seed began to sow.' The chorus begins: 'So good people all, on you I call, / And mark what I do say'. There are no publication details given, but this is one of two songs - printed by James Lindsay - on this sheet.
The nineteenth century was a time of great social and political reform. Amongst other things, every working-class male householder received the vote (1867 Reform Act) and measures were put in place to tackle issues such as poor health, poverty, education and working conditions. This song light-heartedly pokes fun at the notion of 'reform fever'. 'For to Reform Lord Derby's bill', in the final verse, possibly refers to a bill that was introduced by Lord Derby in 1830s to abolish slavery.
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:
1852-1859 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(056)
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