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Broadside ballad concerning the incompetence of politicians


This ballad begins (to the tune of 'Laird o' Cockpen'): 'Oh! Hae ye heard o' an unprincipled squad / That got into out council - Whig, Tory and Rad. / I'm wae for the lads; oh! My heart it is sair / To see some wise claimants sae shameless and bair!'

Probably written some time between 1830 and 1860, this broadside ballad is a vitriolic attack on all politicians, regardless of party. As the names of the politicians are blanked out by the anonymous writer, the ballad resembles a masque - indeed, the style, tone and subject matter of the ballad is similar to 'The Masque of Anarchy', by P.B. Shelley. The ballad cuts its way through this procession of politicians, highlighting their many flaws and comparing them to chimpanzees and baboons.

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: 1830-1860   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(6a)
Broadside ballad concerning the incompetence of politicians
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