This political ballad begins: 'THE Whigs are vap'ring through the toun, / Wi' Campbell, counsel of the croun - / As is a lunnun lawyer loon, / Could ere compete wi' Aytoun!' A note below the title states that this is a new song, and should be sung to the tune, 'The auld wife ayont the fire'. While there are no publication details included on this sheet, the reference to Jamie Aytoun suggests that it was almost certainly published in Edinburgh during the 1830s.
Probably written from a supporter of the Radical Party, this 'Age of Party' ballad refers to an electoral contest that took place in Edinburgh during the 1830s. In this contest, the advocate, Jemmy - or Jamie - Aytoun (1797-1881), stood against the London-based lawyer, Sir John Campbell, who represented the Whig Party. Another rival candidate referred to in the ballad is John Learmonth, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1832. The National Library of Scotland's collection contains numerous broadsides that report on political contests in Edinburgh during this period, many of which champion the cause of Jamie Aytoun.
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: RB.m.143(182)
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