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Broadheet featuring the ballads 'The Robbers of the Glen' and 'The Isle of France'

Date: 1845 - 1849
Overall: 250 x 190 mm, 0.023 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017361
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This broadsheet contains the ballads 'The Robbers of the Glen and 'The Isle of France' and was published by Ryle & Co in Seven Dials, London. Each ballad has a woodcut headpiece representing the title in question. 'The Robbers of the Glen' details a thief's exploits and his friend's betrayal. 'The Isle of France' is also known by the titles 'The Shamrock Green' and 'The Convict's Song', refers to the penal colony established on the island of Mauritius. The convict is shipwrecked and later pardoned by the Queen.
    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation and migration.
    HistoryThe Isle of France.

    The sun was fair the clouds advanced,
    When a convict came to the Isle of France,
    Around his leg he wore a ring and chain,
    And his country was of the Shamrock green.

    Then the coast-guard waited all on the beach,
    Till the convict's boat was in the reach,
    The convict's chains did so shire and spark,
    Which opened the viens of the caust-guard's heart.

    Then the coast-guard launced his little boat,
    Upon the ocean with him to float;
    The birds at night, take their silent, rest,
    But the convict, here has a wounded breast.

    Then the coast-guard came to the Isle of France,
    Towards him the convict did advance,
    When the tears from his eyes did fall like rain,
    Young man I hear you're of the Shamrock green.

    I am a Shamrock, the convict cried,
    That has been tossed on the ocean wide,
    For being unruly I do declare,
    I was doomed to transport for seven years.

    When six of them were past and gone,
    We were coming home to make up one,
    When the stormy winds did blow and roar,
    Which cast me here on a foreign shore.

    Then the coast-guard played a noble part,
    With some brandy he cheered the convict's heart,
    Altho' the night is so far advanced.
    You shall find a friend in the Isle of France.

    Then a speedy letter went to the Queen,
    About the dreadful shipwreck of the Shamrock green
    Then his freedom came by a speedy post,
    To the absent convict they thought was lost.

    God bless the coast-guard, the convict cried,
    You have saved my life from the ocean wide,
    I will drink his health in a flowing glass,
    So here's success to the Isle of France.

    The Robbers of the Glen.

    Stand! stranger! stand, your jewels give ;
    Your gold we must obtain,
    It's useless with your fate to strive,
    Resistance is in vain.
    Behold my band of mountaineers,
    All tried and hardy men,
    At care they laugh, nor danger fear, --
    The robbers of the glen.

    Thus forth we steal, in still midnight,
    Like owls we shun the day,
    When the tell-tale moon has hid her light,
    Then we secure our prey ;
    No blood is shed on no pretence,
    While I command my men ;
    Nor violence used, save self-defence,
    By the robbers of the glen.

    When at the festive board we meet,
    I with my men am gay,
    While they my welcome gladly greet,
    My heart's to grief a prey.
    When ruby wine infames the scene,
    And each ar happy then,
    I curse the hour I first became
    A robber of the glen.

    For fate my prospects darkened o'er ;
    I once had wealth and fame,
    My wealth, alas! it is no more,
    And friendship's but a name
    Yon stately castle, here below
    With all it's wide domain,
    It once was mine! what am I now
    A robber of the glen.

    Through dice, my wealth and fame I lost,
    My friend was once my pride,
    He, like a traitor, played me false,
    Alas! seduced my bride.
    I sought him, and he would have fled,
    We fought, and he was slain ;
    Since that hour the life I've led,
    Is a robber of the glen.

    Fill, fill, the soul-enlivening glass,
    Avaunt, dull care, begone,
    No mor I'll dwell o'er scenes that's past
    With sorrow now I've done.
    Come, give the song, the toast, the glass,
    Come, shout, my merry men,
    Give loud huzzas with three times three
    For the robbers of the glen.

    Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares. Their function expanded as they became used as a medium to galvanise political debate, hold public meetings and advertise products or cultural events.

    The cheap nature of the broadside and its wide accessibility meant that its intended audience were often literate individuals but from varying social standings. The illiterate may have also had access to this literature as many of the ballads were designed to be read aloud. In 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', Peter Burke notes that the golden age of the broadside ballad, between 1600 and 1700, saw ballads produced at a penny each which was the same price for admission to the theatre.

    The ballads also covered a wide range of subject matter such as witchcraft, epic war battles, murder and maritime themes and events. They were suitably dramatic and often entertaining, but as James Sharpe notes, also in 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', some of them were designed as elaborate cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime.

    The broadside ballads in the museum's collection were issued by a range of London printers and publishers for sale on the streets by hawkers. They convey, often comically, stories about love, death, shipwrecks, convicts and pirates. Each ballad communicates a sense that these stories were designed to be read aloud for all to enjoy, whether it was at the local tavern or a private residence.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Broadheet featuring the ballads 'The Robbers of the Glen' and 'The Isle of France'

    Web title: 'The Robbers of the Glen' and 'The Isle of France'

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