Verse 1: 'SAYS temperate Tam, the man of God, / The Disciple of Peace, / The Expounder of the holy word, / The Patriot's Babe of Grace, - ' Verse 2 'Says temperate Tam to silly Jack, / "These oaths are all a sham, / But, lest your conscience it should ache, / We'll soothe it with a dram."' No publication details are printed on the sheet, but a handwritten annotation has added '29 January 1835'.
This ballad appears to be a satire on the Temperance Movement. The word 'oaths' in verse 2 is probably a reference to the pledge signed in 1832 by a working class man from Preston, Joseph Livesy, and seven companions. The pledge stated that they would never drink alcohol again. The idea attracted other groups of working men, and in 1835 the British Association for the Promotion of Temperance was formed. The pledge became an important part of the Movement, but many early signatories interpreted it as referring only to spirit and continued to drink beer and wine. This hypocrisy forms the basis of the 'Epigram on Jock an' Tam'.
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 date published:
1835 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(216)
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