Verse 1 begins: 'In the days of my youth when I travelled the kintra, / Bare in my rumple the wearifu' packs, / Frae the east neuk o' Fife to the cauld hills o' Fintry'. There are no publication details given, but this is one of two songs - printed by James Lindsay - on this sheet.
This ballad recounts the misfortunes, both in love and money, of this wandering pedlar who is eventually left bankrupt and with a drinking habit. He is then forced to 'take the king's shilling' and join the British Army to survive. The mention of General Picton suggests that the pedlar was posted to Madras in the 1790s, as this was one of General Picton's famous strategic decisions. The lyrics finish with a warning note about living a good life to ensure one's place in heaven.
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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