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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Great Gathering in Glasgow Green, Wednesday, October 29, 1834'


A note below the title states 'Address to Glasgow, by Charles St. Clair Johnstone, Late of Salton, East Lothian'. The ballad itself begins: 'HAIL! Glasgow, freedom's chosen seat! / Hail to thy great heart-stirring fete!' A further note mentions that the ballad should be sung to the air, 'Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled'. The sheet was published by Muir, Gowans, & Co, and cost sixpence.

This address, written in the style of a ballad, is dedicated to the citizens of Glasgow. Given the frequent references to freedom and the end of tyranny, it could be that this ballad was written to commemorate the effects of the Great Reform Act of 1832. Unfortunately, however, the writer does not mention why this gathering of citizens has occurred, which means that modern-day readers have to jigsaw together events of the time to try and arrive at a logical conclusion. Likewise, without an explanation regarding who Charles St. Clair Johnstone was, again, it is not possible to place this broadside in its proper historical context. As broadsides were ephemeral publications, the audience would not have required any detailed explanation of these events.

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: 1834   shelfmark: RB.m.143(018)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Great Gathering in Glasgow Green, Wednesday, October 29, 1834'
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