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Broadside ballad entitled 'I'm a Simple Muleteer'


This ballad begins: 'I am a simple muleteer, not too particular to rules, / I treat the world, both far and near, / As roughly as I treat my mules, as I treat my mules, / If they attempt to give me laws, without, without good cause . . . ' 'Muleteer' means 'mule-driver'. A note below the title states that 'Copies of this popular song can only be had in the Poet's Box', (probably Glasgow) and that the ballad should be sung to an original air. The sheet was printed on the Saturday morning of September 17th, 1864, and cost one penny.

This rambling ballad is written from the viewpoint of a muleteer - that is, a mule-driver. The verses tell of his mules, work, travels and attitude to life. The 'Clic clac' refrain that recurs throughout the ballad, meanwhile, is an onomatopoeic attempt to recreate the sound that he hears while riding his mule. Below the ballad, there is a notice informing readers about the various types of publishing services (complete with prices) that the Poet's Box can offer the public, plus a catalogue listing of other ballads that are available for purchase.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. 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 in 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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Date of publication: 1864   shelfmark: L.C.1269(168a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'I'm a Simple Muleteer'
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