Broadside or 'Street' ballads not only give the flavour of English life and history more vividly than much historical evidence of more conventional kinds, but their sheer poetic quality often makes them substantial poems, light or serious, in their own right. This second volume, taking examples mainly over the years 1800-40 from the immense Madden Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, continutes the same literary emphasis, especially with a large number of pieces exploiting all the bustle, humour and variety of life in London - the colourful, crowded, rapidly-expanding metropolis of the period. Other sections concentrate on more traditional themes like crime and transportation, religion (some moving 'freemason' songs), love-making, sex and the 'sex war': or on fashion, the Royal Family and its escapades, and life in the army or navy. There is also an extensive collection of 'Napoleon' ballads, ranging from the early years through to his final re-internment in Paris. This book, illustrated with some remarkable large-scale contemporary woodcuts, should interest not only social historians and students of literature, but also all who have an ear for the verse of the people.
This book was first published in 1979.