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Broadside ballad entitled 'Lucky Spence's Last Advice'


Verse 1: 'THREE times the Carline grain'd and rifted, / Then from the Cod, her Pow she lifted, / In bawdy Policy well gifted, / when now she sawn / That Death na langer wad be shifted, / she thus began...' Although not attributed on the broadside, the great Edinburgh poet Allan Ramsay (1684-1758) is known to have written this poem around 1718.

'Lucky Spence's Last Advice' parodies the broadside publications of 'last words' or 'Dying advice', which offered moral instruction and were often imputed to condemned criminals although more likely composed by the broadside author. The narrator, Lucky Spence, is a brothel-keeper, and her advice consists mainly of instructing her 'girls' how best to exploit the hypocritical Edinburgh figures of authority who are their best clients. The verse form is 'Standard Habbie', derived from the influential Scots comic ballad 'The Life and Death of Habbie Simpson, Piper in Kilbarchan' written in the seventeenth century by Robert Sempill (c.1595-c.1665) of Beltrees.

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 date published: 1718   shelfmark: S.302.b.2(100)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Lucky Spence's Last Advice'
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