This ballad is divided into two named parts. The first part of the ballad is called 'The Meal Mongers intreagues and Resolutions', while the second half of the ballad is called 'The Buyers Answer'. The opening line of the first part reads: 'COME Willie I'll tell you the news'. In the second part of the ballad, the opening line is: 'Fire Brands of Satan are you then Resolv'd'. The first part of the ballad was sung to the tune of 'The meal was dear short-fine', while the second part of the ballad is sung to the tune of 'Death and the Lady'.
As a meal-monger was one who deals in meal, the setting for his ballad would have been that of a busy marketplace. While the meal-monger tells the buyer that his meal is of excellent quality, the buyer replies that the price he is charging amounts to extortion and that his meal is of poor quality. The price of meal was of vital importance in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and many of the riots that took place during this era were food riots. This form of 'expostulation and reply' poetic structure, was a common literary device during this era.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Probable date published:
1701- shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(079)
View larger image