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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Bells are a' ringing'


Verse 1: 'O cam' ye down frae London, man, / Or cam' ye here yestreen? / Then sit down in the muckle chair, / And tell us what ye?ve seen.'

This ballad is dedicated to the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832. At the time this momentous act was passed, Earl Charles Grey (1764-1845) was the Prime Minister, and also leader of the Whig party. The Scotsman, Joseph Hume (1777-1855), was a Radical who, from 1830 onwards, was regarded as the leader of the movement for universal suffrage. Although the 1832 Reform Act extended the franchise to numerous middle-class men, many Radicals (Hume included) considered it to be a weak piece of legislation, since it did not grant the franchise to the working classes.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date published: 1832   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(137a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Bells are a' ringing'
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