Verse 1: 'This Nations Sins are many fold / And Scotland has no name, / Since Honours cast in a new Mould, / And Chastities a Stain. / How Men and Weomen did behave, / I'le tell you Sir's the manner, / When Wallace and the Bruce did live, / And I was a Dame of Honour.'
The meaning of this poem is not entirely clear, but it appears to be narrated by an Edinburgh prostitute. Although the term 'Knight' commonly refers to men, the phrase 'Knights of the Horn Order' may be a veiled reference to prostitutes. The narrator laments a lost, nobler, more chaste Scotland, and praises Bruce and Wallace. The references to these idols of Scottish independence, coupled with the early line 'Scotland has no name' suggests that this poem is a reaction to the 1707 Union of Parliaments, when Scotland was briefly rechristened 'North Britain'. It is implied that the Union has led to Scotland's moral decline.
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 date of publication:
1707 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(019)
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