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Broadside ballad entitled 'Abercromby's Answer, or the Exchequer Garland. Another excellent New Song'


This political ballad begins: 'Ye Whigs of high and low degree, / Come pipe all hands on deck d'ye see, / And teach all the crew to sing out for me, / 'Huzzah for Aber-crombie!' A note below the title states that the ballad should be sung to the tune, 'the Arethusa', which is a traditional Scottish song dating from around 1730, and also the name of a poem by the radical poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Although there are no publication details included on this sheet, the reference to Jamie Aytoun suggests that it was most likely published in Edinburgh during the 1830s.

Illustrated with a woodcut of a gentleman riding his horse, this ballad champions the political aims of Lord James Abercrombie (1776-1858). MP for Edinburgh from 1832-9, Lord Abercrombie was also the Speaker of the House of Commons from 1835-9. Judging by what the author says of Abercrombie, he would have been a member of the Whig Party, who were in power at this time. Apparently, there was a fear that Jamie Aytoun's candidature would split the Whig vote, hence the writer's mild criticism of Aytoun (1797-1881) and the Reformers. Lord Abercrombie was created Baron Dunfermline in 1839.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1830-1840   shelfmark: ABS.10.203.01(062)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Abercromby's Answer, or the Exchequer Garland. Another excellent New Song'
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