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A broadsheet featuring the ballads 'The Smuggler King' and 'I'm King of the Forest Glade'.

Date: 1828 - 1832
Overall: 253 x 191 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017380
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring two ballads titled 'The Smuggler King' and 'I'm King of the Forest Glade'.
    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 Smuggler King.

    There's a brave little bark stealing out in the dark
    From her nest in the bustling bay :
    The fresh breeze meetes her dingy sheets,
    And swiftly she darts away.
    She never must run in the eyes of the sun,
    But along with the owl take wing :
    She must keep her flight for the moonlight night,
    For she carries the smuggler king.

    A monarch is he, as bold as can be,
    Of a strong and daring band;
    The bullet and blast may go whistling past,
    But he quails neither heart nor hand.
    He lives and he dies with his fearful prize;
    Like a hunted wolf he'll spring,
    With trigger and dirk, to the deadliest work,
    And fight like a smuggler king.

    Back from the wave to his home in the cave,
    In the shine of the torch's glare,
    He reigns the lord of the freebooter's board,
    And never was costlier fare.
    Right firm and true are the hearts of his crew,
    There's faith in the shouts that ring,
    As they stave the cask and drain the flask,
    And drink to the smuggler king.

    I'm King of the Forest Glade.

    O, I am a child of the forest wild,
    Where the wild deer boundeth free,
    And the mavis sings, with uncaged wings,
    To his mate in the greenwood tree.
    I range at will o'er mead or hill,
    Or deep, or deep in the woodland shade:
    With my good yew bow in my hand I go,
    As free as the bird or the wild red roe,
    And woods the ring out with song or shout -
    'I'm king of the forest glade!
    I'm king, I'm king, I'm king of the forest

    The sparkling brooks they mirror the looks
    Of the bright blue laughing sky,
    The sweet flowers spring, and the gnarled
    oaks fling
    Their mighty limbs on high.
    O, I love to roam in my free green home,
    With my nut-brown maid, my forest
    Or my bold, bold freres, who doff the
    Which the hollow worldlings seeks and

    When the woods ring out, &c.

    The franklin and priest, O they love to feast
    On the prime of the stalled deer,
    But I am the lord of the free green sward,
    And the best of the king's fat deer
    But the abbot should frst when the Lent
    is past
    When the mess is sung and said,
    Ere my freres and me lack malvoisie,
    To quaff a deep draught 'neath the greenwood tree,

    When the woods ring out, &c.

    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.

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