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A Veteran Tory's Lament

1867-8: Representation of the People Acts

Author: John Ramsay (1802-1879)

This poem appears in our anthology

Publication: Gleanings of the Gloamin'

Publisher: J. and W. Rider

Published: 1870

Place of publication: London, England

Publication type: Book

No full copy of this poem is available.


More information about this recording

Archive/Library: British Library
Classmark(s): General Reference Collection
Pages(s): 50-53

John Ramsay, born in Kilmarnock, was a carpet-weaver, then victualler and carpet-dealer, whose poems were well-known in Ayrshire and surroundings. This Scots poem, subtitled 'On the Result of the Election of 1868', uses the trope of overhearing the Tory devil lamenting the post-Reform election outcome and looking back on past triumphs over working men, such as the gamekeeping laws and the Corn Laws. A typical verse (stanza 3) runs 'I've laughed the working folk to see,/ Their faces grim wi' want and wae,/ While my freens lived in luxury,/ But now, alake! we've lost the day.' It appeared in Ramsay's book of poems, now rare, which was published in different editions in London and in Kilmarnock. The devil is wandering despondently 'somewhere near to Ballochmyle', making it clear that the poem is commenting on the election in the South Ayrshire constituency, where the defeated Tory candidate was Claud Alexander of Ballochmyle.