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Fables from Ancient Authors, or Old Saws with Modern Instances. No I. Gratitude. The Devil and the Ladder

1832: Representation of the People Acts

Author: Anon [Peter Pilpay]

Publication: The Ten Pounder

Publisher: Peter Brown

Published: 25 August 1832

Place of publication: Lady Stair's Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

Publication type: Newspaper/Periodical

Featured individuals:
James Abercromby (1776-1858)
James Aytoun (1797-1881)
Peter Brown (1784-1863)

A full copy of this poem is available.

Further information:

Archive/Library: Glasgow University Library
Classmark(s): Sp Coll Mu56-e.12
Pages(s): 31-32

The editor of this journal, Peter Brown, was a ‘ten pounder’: ‘one of those who have been called into political existence, as it were, by the great measure which has lately given a new character to public affairs’.  Despite this, he was against those calling for more reform.  This poem satirises the Edinburgh Whigs by comparing them to the devil.  In the poem, Eden is portrayed, where people have not yet began agitating for their rights, but then the devil tries to get in by making a ladder, to surmount Eden's ramparts.  The poet associates the ladder with the people, who are simply used by the Whigs to get into parliament.  It is also believed that the Whigs are simply using the radical James Aytoun to get in too, by ultimately trying to take his support.  In the final few lines of the poem, the editor of the journal (Peter Brown) is mentioned: the speaker (ambiguously) states that even Brown would kick Aytoun after the Whigs had used him.