Verse 1: 'The oldest person in the world, on land or on the water, / Never saw such times before, since Sampson killed his daughter. / The peoples' doors, I am so sure, are on the hinges creaking; / All clothes are pop'd, all works are stopp'd, and all the Merchants breaking.' The sheet carries no publication details.
This broadside is not dated, but certain details in the ballad suggest that it was written in the mid 1850s. The line 'Old Aberdeen, in the House of Lords, knock'd down Lord Stanley right slap' refers to George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen (1784-1860), replacing Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799-1868), as prime minister in 1852. The final three verses suggest that the poem was composed during the Crimean War (1854-56). The 'stagnation' probably refers to a decline in the textiles industry which badly affected Scotland from about 1840. Economic recovery in the second half of the nineteenth century was helped by growth in the iron and shipbuilding industries.
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:
1850-1860 shelfmark: RB.m.169(137)
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