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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Juste Milieu'


This political ballad begins: 'The juste milieu, the juste milieu, / From France imported neat and new, / Is now the rule on Britain's shore, / And homespun truth is prized no more! / Where once you saw the old true blue, / You now have got the juste milieu.' There are no publication details included on this sheet.

This amusing ballad, in its highlighting of the infuriating way in which politicians refuse to give straight answers to questions, will strike a chord with today's voters. In his exasperation, the writer deploys the famous French phrase, 'juste milieu' ('the happy medium'), to demonstrate how politicians at this time operated in the no-man's land between 'yes' and 'no', when answering questions. The ballad was likely written during the 1830s, when the boundaries between the various political parties became famously blurred. Indeed, the National Library of Scotland's collection includes many broadsides from around this period that highlight the way in which electoral candidates did not always represent what they claimed to represent.

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(178)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Juste Milieu'
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