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Broadside ballad entitled 'Jessie's Dream at Lucknow'


The first verse of this ballad reads: 'FAR awa' tae bonnie Scotland / Hae my spirit taen its flight, / An' I saw my mither spinni' / In our Highland hame at nght. / I saw the kye abrowsing, / My faither at the plough, / And the grand auld hills aboon them / Wid I could see them now.' 'Ky' are 'cows'. This sheet was printed by W. Shepherd, Overgate, Dundee and priced at one penny. It was available to buy from the Poet's Box, which also had premises in the Overgate.

This song is referring to the Siege of Lucknow (1857), which was one of a series of sieges and battles collectively known as the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8. Disillusioned with British rule in India, large numbers of Indian soldiers, or 'sepoys', rose up in protest. Almost ninety days into the siege at the British Residency in Lucknow, Sir Henry Havelock and the forces under his command managed to break through the revolt and enter. Despite their efforts, the siege continued for a futher two months until the arrival of a Highland Regiment led by Sir Colin Campbell. It is claimed their arrival was heralded by the sound of bagpipes playing 'Auld Lang Syne'. Jessie Brown is purported to have been the wife of a British soldier stationed at Lucknow.
The Dundee Poets? Box was in operation from about 1880 to 1945, though it is possible that some material was printed as early as the 1850s. Most of the time it had premises at various addresses in Overgate. In 1885 the proprietor J.G. Scott (at 182 Overgate) had published a catalogue of 2,000 titles consisting of included humorous recitations, dialogues, temperance songs, medleys, parodies, love songs, Jacobite songs. Another proprietor in the 1880s was William Shepherd, but little is known about him. Poets? Box was particularly busy on market days and feeing days when country folk were in town in large numbers. Macartney specialised in local songs and bothy ballads. Many Irish songs were published by the Poets? Box ? many Irishmen worked seasonally harvesting potatoes and also in the jute mills. In 1906 John Lowden Macartney took over as proprietor of the Poet?s Box, initially working from 181 Overgate and later from no.203 and 207.

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 at 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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Probable period of publication: 1880-1885   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(120b)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Jessie's Dream at Lucknow'
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