Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

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Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by Currie » Sat Nov 07, 2020 12:55 pm

Trams were introduced to Glasgow in 1872. They were horse drawn and ran on rails. They were much more comfortable for passengers than the omnibuses which ran on the cobbles. You can read all about it in Glasgow History. ... art-1.html

But not everyone was happy.

Glasgow Herald, Tuesday, December 15, 1874


Sir,—I beg to enclose a few lines from one of my late constituents in the East End, in the hope that you may find a corner for them in the Herald.
—Yours truly, JAMES STEEL.

I’m just a puir auld horsey, but I ask ye, Provost Bain,
If you, and sic as you, sir, fin’ ne’er a pang o’shame,
To increase the cares and troubles o’ auld beasties sic as me,
Who have served ye, and your forbears, so long and faithfullie?

Full many a cart o’ coals, Jeems, it’s been my lot to draw,
Frae Shintyhaugh or Shettleston doon to the Brimielaw;
But ye've laid the roads wi’ airn, Jeems, an’ I canna keep my feet,
While yer muckle cattle trucksies fill frae side to side the street.

I work in awe and trembling, Jeems, for fear o’ comin’ doon,
And I cross the streets a thousand times in getting through the toon,
Puir horse life has been shortened to serve folk’s Yankee ways,
And in fear and tribulation must we spend our weary days.

Our drivers are admonished, Jeems, and fined frae hour to hour,
Because to get out of the way it is out of their power;
Wi’ horses fagg’d, wi’ carts and cabs, and lorries a’ in streams,
In confusion twice confounded, by your “Regulators,” Jeems!

That the trams are for the working class you din into our ears,
But hae we no been workers, Jeems, for mony a thousand years?
So, why should we be cursed, with your philanthropic plans,
As if our lives were no as guid as your kickin’ workin’ man’s.

A working class! ay, that we've been! your slave near or afar!
In peace, we've quietly worked for you, and fought for you in war;
On Belgium's plains who mounted ye, whom rode ye at Assaye,
And who carried the “Six Hundred” on the Grand Crimean day?

But you dinna unnerstan’, Jeems, ye’re bit a kind o' clark,
And to horse and horsey matters maun be rather in the dark;
And your feelings must he shoppy, Jeems, and short o’ sympathie,
For bipeds like yersel’ even, or quadrupeds like me.

For mannikins like you, Jeems, brocht up to haud the pen,
Can scarcely be considered jist within the sphere o’ men;
Had ye been a buirdly carter, Jeems, ye’d been an honest man,
And no’ to save your life or soul could hae gone in for the tram.

And thus, Jeems, I half excuse ye, as ye kenna what ye do,
Like the hook-nosed thief upo’ the Cross, the ill-bred wicked Jew; **
But you make a natty Provost, Jeems, and ye're no ower auld to lairn,
That even as men are upon ice, so are horses upon airn.

Had ye felt ye’re hams and brawns, Jeems, as ye trod the slippy street,
Wi' a’ yer thews and sinnons strained to keep you on your feet;
How an hour’s walk made ye sairer, Jeems, thus walking upon glass,
Than had ye gane a month or mair on heather or on grass.

And so it's wi’ puir horses, Jeems, striving to keep their feet,
They get shaky knees and bent out legs, the spavin and the cleet;
And then, Jeems, they must go, you know, to your licensed knacker shops,
To be converted, inch by inch, into dogs and catses’ chops.

Oh Jeems! I kent ye in your youth, a nice an’ dacent lad;
And I'm sorry, for your mither’s sake, to see ye’ve turned sae bad,
As to try and spread thae tramways, which the Yankey rogues laid doon,
To kill our gallant horses, and to spoil our bonnie toon.

The time’s no far awa’, Jeems, when ye'll hae tae relent,
And the sooner ye begin, Jeems, the less ye'll need repent;
Remember’ yer auld maister o’ Cambusdoon, the Laird,
How it cost him."half a million quid” to get the clergy squared.

And if ye turn the leaf, Jeems, a saving it may be,
To your executors and heirs against the day ye dee;
I ne’er lik’d late repentin’, it's a cheatery kind o' thing,
And when consolation’s wanted, I fear it nane will bring.

And for your frien’s the spirits, Jeems, of course fu’ weel ye know,
That ye met them, where ye should na been, in that bad place below;
And ye'd be as weel to send them hame, for when there comes the push,
Ye’ll find the smoky, leein’ things no worth a single rush.

Ye've been sair on my kind, Jeems, but yet I wish ye weel,
For I do not think it’s horses’ work to wish folk to the deil;
An if I live but lang enough, I'll come and see ye shriven,
Although through these cursed tramways I’ve been sair overdriven.

Vinegar Hill, 3d year o’ the Tram.

( ** Not sure what to do with this line, should it be edited?)

It seems that Auld Kempie is complaining to James Bain, Lord Provost of Glasgow, about the slippery iron tram rails, which are likely to bring him down, and end him up as pet food.

It’s nice to know that he got to have his neigh, I mean say.

See this page ... %2C6258089


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Re: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by SarahND » Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:24 am

Brilliant!! And it's not only horses... a friend of mine got her bicycle wheel caught in one of those rails and ended up in hospital for 6 weeks :( Now I know it was all due to "Jeems" (or those nefarious Yankees.)


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Re: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by Anne H » Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:35 am

Brilliant! Enjoyed that, Alan - Thanks! =D>

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Re: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by garibaldired » Sun Nov 08, 2020 12:37 pm

Great, Alan =D>

Where do you find them?! :lol:

Best wishes,


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Re: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by nelmit » Sun Nov 08, 2020 2:20 pm

Excellent Alan. :)

Like Sarah said it's bicycles now that are affected by the new tram lines in Edinburgh.


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Re: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Post by Currie » Wed Nov 11, 2020 4:17 pm

Thanks all,

I thought I might make this into a series, but there’s not much material to choose from.

I wonder if Auld Kempie could be an ancestor of Mister Ed, or even Francis the Talking Mule. It’s a shame we can’t follow that up.


No sooner is a Horsie complaint, about slippery tram rails, out of the way, than another complaint turns up. This time it’s someone in Newburgh, complaining about something he read in the Fifeshire Journal. Some foreigner, it seems, has written a whole lot of stuff in an article, or something, about Newburgh, and the complainer is not a bit happy about what was said.

This is probably the one, which I am unable to access ... rder=score

Fife Herald, Tuesday, July 8, 1845

To the Editor of the Fife Herald,
Newburgh, lst July 1845.

It's a daft like thing for frem'd fouk to come till a toun an’ just tak’ a look o't like, an’ then gang hame an’ wreat letters about fouk an’ things they canna ken ony thing about, ‘ceptin’ what they've tell'd by funny wags that like to see things in prent, an’ just tell a wheen havers, that a’ body o’ commonsense despises. I see that some “bletherin' bitch,” as that great poet Burns says, has been doin’ just what I say, in the Fifeshire Journal o’ last week, an’ tellin’ a wheen lees an’ stuff aboot Newburgh, an’ pretendin’ a' the time, too, as gin he war a Newburgh man; but that ‘ill no gae doun here—it’s owre easy seen through. But may be fouk at a distance ‘ill no think the same, an’ I just wreat ti ye to lat them ken what we're thinkin’ here aboot the letter. Wha ever heard o’ ony sensible man like Mr Melville propheceein’ that the late kinds o’ pears wad be delicious ? Naebody can tell gif a pear is delicious or no till he pree’t. Na, na; awa’ wi’ ye’re propheceein’; it ‘ill no do ava! An’as for the saamon fishin’ concern, we just laugh at the buddie, an’ think the wags hae play'd on him real grandly. I'm just wondrin’, Mr Editor, in my ain mind, gif the frem'd buddie I saw shootin’ peas out o’ a bow an’ airy gun, at a black boord wi’ a wheen white rings paintet on’t, for hazel netts, an’ dancin’ like a twa year auld up at Sweery, wad be the creter that wreat the letter or no, gude kens; but I didna see ony ither buddie I thocht could hae dune’t.

I mind fine, twa or three years syne, when twa from'’d lads came here on a market-day, an’ kicket up queer rackets amon’ the lasses, an’ made great fools o’ themsels, an’ just keepit a’ buddie speakin’ aboot them for mony a day; and ae thing I mind, which was rather a queer an’ funny sort o' a thing, at least I ne'er heard the like o't, an’ I thocht he maun be a rum sort o' a buddie to think on sic a thing ava—ane o’ them had gane awa' an’ been lost for a while, an' fouk speer’d at his neebor whare the ither ane was, an’ he laughed droll like, an’ cocket his e’en, an’ claw'd his croon an’ said—“ L——d kens! but I lent him half-a-croon just a wee minit syne, an’ I ken he'll nae rest ava till he forgather wi’ some lass or anither, an’ pit the half-croon in his mou’ for a sweetie, an’ kiss’t until her mou’, like the ploomen!” Was nae he a queer deevil?

I'm thinkin’ the letter-wreater was wantin’ fouk to think him very learned whau he says that Commentators war vex'd aboot the last line o’ our pye laddies’ rant; but we got a’ gude laugh at him, an’ a’ the pye laddies are just half dementit wi' the fun o’ the thing. Nae buddie here gangs intil the taps o’ trees to eat pies. Gude faith! they ken better; they gang to bein ben ends, an’ sit at cosy firesides, as comfortable as princes, an’ eat their pies, an‘ wash them doun wi great waughts o’ real XXX porter, an’ lang sooks o’ Willie Young’s whisky, or that same made into hot toddy, an’ enjoy themsel's like Christian men, an’ no like savages o’ the wuddes, i’ the taps o’ trees! an’ listen pleasantly to the sound, saften’d by distance, o' laddies i’ the street cryin’ their bit rant, no biddin’ ye come to them “i’ the tap o’ the tree,” as our “ Commentator” says, but just roarin’ wi’ a’ their micht, that ilka ane is the tap o’ the tree himsel’. An’ I'm sure a’ buddie aboon six months auld kens what that means.

I'm thinkin’ that the neist time the letter-wreater comes here, I maun tak’ him in tow mysel’, an’ lat him up to the true state o’ our affairs, an’ no haud him gun awa’ an makin’ a fule o’ himsel’, an’ tryin’ to mak’ a fule o‘ us. It ‘ill no do; faith, we’re no sic dolts in Newburgh, as some fouk think. Stop or we get our railroad, an’ we'll lat ye see fun ye never saw the like o't!

Houpin’ ye’ll excuse my braid Scots, for I'm no that sair acquent wi’ wreatin’—an’ this has been a sair fecht to mak’ out—but duty gangs aboon a’ sma’ considerations—I am, &c.,

Willie Keebie.

Thanks Willie.


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