WMR never collected this trivial song in any of his editions of DGR's works, and it is unclear whether he even regarded it as genuine.
Lewis (Trial Book Fallacy, 148) implies that the work is spurious but does not say so explicitly. In any case, the song makes only the most perfunctory moves to pastiche a border song or ballad (in contrast to Swinburne's many brilliant works in the same mode). DGR had the skill to compose superb imitation ballads, as “Dennis Shand” especially shows, but he was most adept at sophisticating old ballad forms, as with “Sister Helen”.
The ballad was first published in the 14 January 1860 number of the periodical
Once A Week, 66
, where it is signed “D. G. R.”.
The poem illustrates the drawing by the distinguished draughtsman and illustrator Hablot Knight Browne (“Phiz”) that appears on the page with it.