This ballad begins: 'WILL ye gang wi' me Lassie, / To the braes of Birnibouzle / Baith the earth and sea Lassie / Will I rob to feed thee / I'll hunt the otter and the brook'. It was published by J. Pitts of Great St Andrew Street, London, and includes a woodcut illustration of a well-dressed man standing next to a window.
The inclusion of a woodcut illustration on this sheet would probably have helped to boost sales. Although the price of a broadside was usually no more than one penny, the broadside-buying public were more inclined to buy a sheet that featured a picture, believing it to be better value. The publishers were fully aware of this and maintained an often limited stock of woodcuts that could be used across a range of different sheets. People appeared unconcerned if the illustration provided bore little or no relation to the topic.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile