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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Ghost of Benjamin Binns'


This ballad begins: 'Keep your seat if you please, and don't be afraid, / I am only a ghost, a poor harmless shade; / I would not hurt any one here if I could, / And you couldn't do me much harm if you would'. A note under the title informed readers that this popular song could be purchased from the Poet's Box, Overgate, Dundee. It was printed by W. Shepherd.

The ghost of Benjamin Binns makes regular visits to the land of the living from his 'home down below'. Horrified to find his wife has taken another husband, Benjamin decides to speak to them both in 'sepulchral tones'. He also wittily recounts his paid visits to the Spiritualist's midnight sťance.

Throughout the nineteenth century people were fascinated by the subject of death and the prospect of life after death. The interest largely came from advances in medical science and scientific reasoning, and the questioning of religious doctrines. For many, Spiritualism provided the evidence they required to believe that life continued after death. Interest in the supernatural reached such heights that even songs such as this, which poked fun at the notion, sold extremely well.

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Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: RB.m.143(141)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Ghost of Benjamin Binns'
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