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Broadside ballads entitled 'The Loss of the Princess Alice' and 'The Parrot and the Old Arm Chair'


This broadside contains two ballads. The first ballad begins: 'How many thousands have found a grave / aneath the ever rolling wave, / And day by day the list we swell, / Another loss we have to tell.' A note below the title states that this ballad should be sung to a tune called 'Sailor's Grave'. Although the sheet is not dated, the topic of the first ballad suggests it was published around September 1878.

The second ballad begins: 'My girl invited me one Sunday home to tea, / Her Pa and Ma had gone out for the day, / Not feeling disinclined I said I didn't mind, / With the girl I loved to pass the time away.' A sub-title below the main title states that this ballad is a parody of a song called the 'Old Arm Chair'.

The chapmen who sold broadsides would have marketed this sheet as a bargain, since it offered two ballads for the price of one. The first ballad tells the awful story of the paddleboat steamer, The Princess Alice, which sunk in the Thames on Sunday September 3rd, 1878, following a collision with a collier. Tragically, of the 600 passengers who were on board the pleasure cruiser, only 50 survived. The second ballad gives a light-hearted account of the fun and adventures that take place when a young man visits his sweetheart in her home when the parents are out, only to find a cheeky parrot acting the part of an intrusive chaperone.

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Probable date published: 1878   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(53)
Broadside ballads entitled 'The Loss of the Princess Alice' and 'The Parrot and the Old Arm Chair'
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