This ballad begins: 'The Whigs are vap'ring through the toun, / Wi' Campbell, counsel o' the Croun- / As if a Lunnon lawyer loon / Could ere compete wi' Aytoun!' It was advertised as a new song and was to be sung to the tune, 'The auld wife ayont the fire'. A woodcut illustration of a rather dubious-looking character adorns the top of the sheet.
The 'Honest Aytoun' of the title is most likely James Aytoun (1797-1881), a prominent Radical who stood for election as member of parliament for Edinburgh in the mid-nineteenth century. 'Campbell', who is described here as 'a Lunnon lawyer loon', was the London-based lawyer, Sir John Campbell, who stood as the Whig candidate in the same election. In the final verse reference is also made to the Tory candidate, John Learmonth. A large number of broadsides were printed regarding these elections and the characters involved, many of which can now be found in the National Library of Scotland's collection.
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(103)
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