This old poem puts a local spin on the phrase ‘pride comes before a fall’:

A loupin' on stane is a very good thing, 
For a man that is stiff, for a man that is auld, 
For a man that is lame o' the leg or the spauld,
Or short o' the houghs, to loup on his naggie;
So said Tam O'Crumstane, unbousome and baggie;
And mountin' the stane at Gibbie's house-end, 
Like a man o' great pith, wi a grane, and a stend—
He flew owre his yaud, and fell i' the midden. 

The poem was collected by Dr George Henderson of Chirnside (1800-1864) for his book ‘The Popular Rhymes, Proverbs and Sayings of the County of Berwick’, 1856. Henderson describes:

‘An accident very likely to happen, especially to a stout and corpulent individual, who wanted to show off his agility to the byestanders! Thus vaulting ambition over-leaps itself, And falls on the other side.’

The identity of the unlucky Tam O’ Crumstane is unknown, although Crumstane is a farm in the parish of Duns.

A ‘Loupin-on Stane’ was a block of stone placed in a street and often outside inns for travellers to mount and dismount their horses. Henderson recalls one in the parish of Buncle, with three or four steps leading up to it.

Old man on horse. Public Domain.
Drawing of an old man. Image from New York Public Library.

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