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Broadside ballad entitled 'Samson's Foxes, a New Litany'


This ballad begins: 'From the fine Roman Whore, or Geneva Slut ; / The one dawbed with Paint, the other with Smut ; / From the Beast's horned Head, or his cloven Foot'. It is to be sung to the tune of 'An old Courtier of the Queen'. It was published in Edinburgh by James Watson, in 1713.

Watson (1664-1722), was one of the King's printers for Scotland. King's printers had exclusive rights to print acts of Parliament, proclamations, the Authorised Version of the Bible, the metrical psalmsand catechism, amongst others. It appears that this is not one of those; indeed, the piece seems to be harshly critical of organised religion, saying the 'Dragons of the Church . . . make others Martyrs to make themselves Saints'.

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: 1713   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.76(087)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Samson's Foxes, a New Litany'
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