Verse 1 begins: 'Now lend your lugs, ye benders fine, / Wha ken the benefit of wine; / And you wha laughing feud brown ale, / Leave jinks a wee and hear a tale'. This sheet was published on Saturday 15th July, 1871, by the Poet's Box. It would have cost a penny to buy.
This rather strange story would no doubt have been highly entertaining at the time it was sold - given the lack of other diversionary activities available. It tells the story of the miller, Halbert, his beautiful young wife, Bess, and the local priest - who all three enjoy a close relationship. The nature of the relations, however, are revealed when a student and stranger catches the priest courting Bess. The student James, then takes advantage of Halbert's ignorance to perform 'magic' tricks for the miller!
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:
1871 shelfmark: RB.m.143(041)
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