This ballad begins: ' THE Meal was dear short shine, / When they were Married together, / Ann Maggy she was in her prime, / When Willy made Courtship till her. / Twa Pistols Charge'd be-guess, / To give the Courtier a Shot, / Ann fine came ban the Lass, / Wee Swats drawn frae the Butt?' This ballad was to be sung 'To an Excellent New Tune', which unfortunately is not given.
This Scots ballad is structured as a dialogue between an old man and his daughter's prospective husband. The discussion is over the extent of tocher the young man can expect to gain from the marriage. 'Tocher' is a Scots term for a bride's family's contribution to a marriage arrangement, and is derived from the Gaelic 'tochradh'. A tocher might typically consist of linen, crockery or silverware, but in this ballad the father appears to be able to offer only some flea-ridden bedclothes, some plough stilts, a wooden chest and some meal sacks.
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:
1700-1720 shelfmark: S.302.b.2(102)
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