Verse 1: 'A Protestant Priest, a Man of great Fame, / To be Rich and Great was his only Aim, / It was Dr Weasel, the very same, / Which no body can deny.'
This ballad is a satire about a churchman who is prepared to change his religious allegiance to earn fame and fortune and to curry favour with whichever monarch and party are in power. The poet depicts the priest wondering 'Whether Jimmy or William he ought to obey', 'Jimmy' being the Catholic James VII of Scotland and II of England, and 'William' being the Protestant William of Orange, who succeeded the deposed James in 1688. The 'Vicar of Bray', also mentioned, is the hero of a similar satirical poem from about 1734, and the reference dates this poem to after that.
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:
1690-1700 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.76(026)
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