A Veteran Tory’s Lament

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by John Ramsay, Gleanings of the Gloamin’, 1870.

This poem likely references the result of the 1868 election in South Ayrshire, where the Tory candidate Claud Alexander of Ballochmyle was defeated by a Liberal. Ballochmyle would also have been known to readers from Burns’s song ‘The Lass O’ Ballochmyle’. This is an abridged version of a longer poem: the full text, with commentary, can be found in our anthology.

Performers: The McNeill Sisters Duo

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‘Twas somewhere near to Ballochmyle,
The deil was met gaun down a brae,
And aye he sadly sung the while,
Alake! alake! we’ve lost the day.

We’re vanquished north, we’re vanquished south,
For a’ that I could do or say,
By that auld hatefu’ limmer Truth,
Alake! alake! we’ve lost the day.

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.

I’ve laughed to see his lordship’s game
Eat up the crap, the farmer sent
Adrift for killing ane o’ them,
And roupit out to pay the rent.

I’ve laughed to see a man strung up
For writing o’ anither’s name,
Or maybe stealing o’ a tup,
Or bread to fill a hungry wame.

Confound the Liberals, ane and a’,
Were they but pinioned neck and heel,
And into my ain torture ha’,
My certy! I would mak’ them squeal.