This ballad begins: 'Of all the wives that plaque men's lives, / And keep them from their rest, / A gossiping wife, or a passionate wife, / Pray which do you think the best?' The chorus begins: 'A gossiping wife goes gadding about, / She's ever giving to roam'. It was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.
This song, albeit in a light-hearted way, manages to reduce women to predictable stereotypes and, as result, portrays them in a rather negative light. Asked to choose between a 'A gossiping wife, or a passionate wife', the author makes no hesistation in his choice of a passionate wife. The 'gossiping wife' is considered a nuisance who will mind everyone's business but her own!
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
Probable date of publication:
1852-1859 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(025)
View larger image