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.