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Broadside ballad entitled 'Be Careful in Choosing a Wife'


The first verse reads: 'Now all young men that are going to be wed, / Don't be caught like a bird with a small piece of bread / For when you are caught, remember it's for life, / I'd have you be careful in choosing a wife.' This broadside was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.

There are many broadside ballads offering 'helpful' advice to any man who is considering matrimony. In most of these works, men are warned against gossiping, deceitful, slothful and drunken women. The overriding message appears to be that a good, honest woman is hard to find. Although the majority of these ballads were intended to be humorous, the persistent portrayal of women as the tormentors of man offers an interesting insight into eighteenth- and nineteenth-century attitudes towards women.

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: 1852-1859   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(055)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Be Careful in Choosing a Wife'
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