Verse 1: 'Curse on this Indian war that ere it began, / And wae to the savages that formed the plan; / But Britons are heroes we'll soon let them know, / That we'll seon be revenged so let's bundle and go.' The broadside carries no publication details.
This song is a call to arms inspired by the First Indian War of Independence, known in Britain as the Indian Mutiny, which began in 1857. Britain had established trading stations in India through the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century, and India was recognised as part of the British Empire by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The causes behind the war of 1857 were complicated, but at its root lay the British colonists' increasing interference in Indian traditions and beliefs. As the Indian side was made up mainly of sepoys, Indian soldiers who had served in the British Army, Britain had to recruit new troops from the home nations, hence the words of this song. The British, displaying a brutality that became infamous, were eventually victorious.
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 date published:
1857-1858 shelfmark: RB.m.169(109)
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