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Broadside ballad entitled 'Burns and Highland Mary'


This ballad begins: 'In green Caledonia there ne'er were two lovers, / Sae enraptured and happy in each others arms, / As Burns the sweet bard and his dear Highland Mary, / And fondly and sweetly he sang of her charms.' A note at the foot of this sheet states it was published by 'Moore, Printer, Cheapside, Belfast'.

This ballad celebrates the beauty of Mary Campbell (1763-1786), who was the inspirational Muse behind the songs by Robert Burns, 'Highland Mary' and 'The Highland Lassie, O'. Legend has it that Burns asked Mary to go to Jamaica with him, which she consented to, but that she died in Greenock from a fever - possibly during a premature childbirth - before they could leave. Although Burns's friends tried to dissuade him from continuing his relationship with Mary by highlighting her reputed looseness, Burns ignored their advice. This ballad tells the sad story of the love affair between Burns and Mary Campbell, with the final setting of the ballad being a graveyard in Greenock. The printer, Moore, may have been James Moore who had a Poet's Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856. It is not known if there was any connection between Moore and the Poet's Boxes in Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.

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: 1846-1856   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(10a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Burns and Highland Mary'
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