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Broadside ballad entitled 'Jack and the Bear-skin'


This ballad begins: 'A sailor and his lass / Sat o'er their parting glass, / For the tar had volunteered to go to sea, / At the sailing signal flying, / The lovely lass was sighing, / And said:- "I fear you never will come back to me.' The text preceding it reads: 'A song for the fleet called Jack and the Bear-skin / AIR - "The deeds of Napoleon".'

The purpose of this song may have been two-fold. Firstly, to reassure members of the audience who were living apart from loved ones that those absent were safe and having a good time. Secondly, to glamorise and immortalise the act of leaving loved ones and travelling for those in the audience who fitted this work pattern. Although this is mere speculation, the narrative is a good entertaining story which moves at a varied and fast pace to keep the audience entertained.

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: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(95b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Jack and the Bear-skin'
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