This ballad begins: 'A wee bit raggit laddie gangs an'ren thro' the street, / Wadin' 'mang the snaw wi' his wee hackit feet, / He's shiv'rin' I' the cauld blast, greetin' wi' the pain; / Wha's the puir wee callan? he's a drunkard's raggit wean.' The broadside was published by the Poet's Box in Dundee. It does not carry a date of publication.
'The Drunkard's Raggit Wean' paints a pitiful picture of a child left hungry, cold and miserable through neglect by his drunken parents. This was clearly intended to provide moral instruction against the dangers of drinking alcohol to excess, and may have been linked to the Temperance Movement. The first Temperance Societies opened in Scotland in the late 1820s, and the movement gathered momentum throughout the nineteenth century. The Temperance (Scotland) Act in 1913, gave Scottish districts the opportunity to vote themselves 'dry'. Several did, but the Temperance Movement lost popularity as the century progressed.
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: RB.m.143(212)
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