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Broadsheet featuiring the ballads 'Woodman Spare That Tree' and 'The Flaunting Flag of Liberty'.

Date: 1790 - c 1870
Overall: 255 x 193 mm, 0.014 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017427
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring the ballads 'Woodman Spare That Tree' and "The Flaunting Flag of Liberty'.
    The ballad 'Woodman Spare That Tree' was very popular for its time and the words were taken from a poem by George Pope Morris published in the New York Mirror. The music was composed by Henry Russell. It has been suggested that this is one of the first ever environmentalist songs ever written.

    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, migration.

    Woodman spare that tree,
    Touch not a single bough --
    In youth it sheltered me,
    And I'll protect it now.
    'Twas my fore father's hand,
    That placed it near his cot;
    There, woodman, let it stand,
    Thy axe shall harm it not.

    That old familiar tree,
    Whose glory and renown,
    Are spread o'er land and sea,
    And wouldst thou hack it down
    Woodman, forbear thy stroke,
    Cut not its earth-bound ties,
    Oh, spare that aged oak.
    Now towering to the skies.

    Oft when a careless child,
    Benath its shade I heard,
    The wood-notes sweet and wild,
    Of many a forest bird.
    My Mother kissed me hear,
    My Father pressed my hand,
    I ask thee with a tear,
    Oh let that old Oak stand.

    My heart-strings round thee cling,
    Close as thy bark, old friend,
    Here shall the WILD bird sing,
    And still thy branches bend.
    OLD tree the storm STILL brave,
    And woodman LEAVE the spot,
    While I've a hand to save,
    Thy axe shaLL harm it not.


    The flaunting flag of liberty,
    Of Galia's Sons the boast;
    Oh, never may the Briton see,
    Upon the British coast:
    The only flag that freedom rears,
    Her emblem on the Seas,
    Is the flag that's braved a thousand years
    The battle and the breeze.

    To aid the trampled Rights of Man,
    And break oppressions chain,
    The foremost in the Battle's Van,
    It never floats in vain:
    The Mariner, wher'er he steers
    In every clime he sees,
    Th flag taht's braved a thousand years,
    The Battle and the Breeze.

    If all unite as once we did,
    To keep her flag unfurled,
    England still may earless bid,
    Defiance to the World;
    But fast will flow a Nation's tears,
    If lawless hands should seize,
    The flag that's braved a thousand year
    The Battle and the Breeze.

    Broadsheet rhymes and verses were the cheapest prints available during the 18th and 19th century. They were sold by street sellers known as Flying Stationers, who charged a minimal fee of a penny or half-penny. They featured popular songs that were often sung in homes, inns and taverns and covered a range of themes relating to contemporary events or stories. Printed alongside the songs were woodcut illustrations. Most of the broadsheet publishers did not date or mark their works, making it difficult to pinpoint when they were produced.

    The publication of ballads was part of the commemoration and production of material about shipwrecks. Ships were part of the everyday life in the 19th century and stories about their voyages, wrecks, record breaking voyages and commissions often featured in newspapers and commemorative souvenirs.

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