This ballad begins: 'The Russians are coming, oh, dear! oh, dear! / Well, let them come on, we have nothing to fear; / The war now declared - you can now volunteer - / There's nought like the Militia, that is very clear...' It was to be sung to the old Scottish air 'The Campbells are Coming', was published on 13th January 1855, by the Poet's Box, Glasgow, and was priced at one penny.
This ballad was clearly intended for performance, as the text beneath the title confirms: 'This fine song is sung, with the most unbounded applause, by that comical of all comic singers, Mr Charles Watson, in the Shskspeare Saloon, Glasgow. The rapturous encores, with which he is nightly greeted show how much he is loved by those who appreciate the Muse, and admire original talent of a high character. Now that the Lancashire Militia has arrived in Glasgow, on the 11th instant, the Poet expects a great run to the box for this funny song'. The song was probably written in response to Britain entering the Crimean war in 1854.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
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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Date of publication:
1855 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(49]
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