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Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution: 1793-1815 by Ffion Mair Jones

By Ffion Mair Jones

Welsh Ballads of the French Revolution is a set of ballads composed in response to the momentous occasions of the French Revolution and the 2 many years of struggle that undefined. Ballad writers first replied in 1793, while the French monarchs have been done and France declared struggle upon Britain, yet because the decade proceeded, sang in thank you for the victory of British forces and to the vast mobilization of armed forces and volunteer forces. This quantity, entire with parallel English translations of the unique Welsh texts and copious contextualizing notes, introduces readers to this telling corpus for the 1st time and to a bunch of little-known authors.

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97 Roberts, and the community in which he lived, may also have been aware of the considerable numbers of Catholics living in large English towns including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester as the eighteenth century drew to its close. 98 An anonymous ballad (no. 6), again dated 1794, also evokes the presence of an ‘internal enemy’, but shows considerable ambiguity regarding the identity of this foe. Written ‘in consideration of the times’, it adopts the simple ‘hen bennill’ metre characteristic of poetry written with a leaning towards home­ spun wisdom and moral counsel.

This poem gives a comprehensive account of the invaders’ pranks and, although it is impossible to be certain about its provenance, the detail in itself suggests a more localized inception. The only other ballad on the landing to emanate from the north Wales presses is the work of Richard Roberts (no. 20). The danger, however, was swiftly deflated as soldiers came from England to imprison the French. The poem concludes with an expression of faith in God’s ability to conquer ‘our’ enemies. In view of Richard Roberts’s earlier ballads on the Revolution and on the threat to stability presented by internal enemies and by the sin of the Britons more generally, this is a some­ what disappointing text, which fails fully to engage with the concept of infiltration from abroad and its consequences (other than the sensationalist claims mentioned) for the community involved.

1), ‘Sylwiad byr’ (no. 2) also apparently addresses two audiences. It is aware of (and wishes to profit from) the potential of cheap print to influence a popular audience, and attempts to anticipate the response to its arguments. It claims that the verdict of ordinary people on One Penny-worth is that ‘Thomas and his lines are certainly too costly’ (line 88), and it attempts to deflate the pamphlet’s argu­ ments by maintaining that its main spokesman is a ‘tongue-less bell’ (line 72). Through­out, it repeatedly accuses Thomas of lying, and attempts to attribute to him the blame for disruption and disturbance in public order, turning on its head the argument that Dissenters are disloyal to the crown.

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