Shon M'Nab

DESCRIPTION: Shon M'Nab fails at herding, fishing, and running a still. He goes to Glasgow and is overcome by the wonders he sees. He sees fire used all around and is convinced the people in Glasgow must be in league with the Devil. He prefers the old ways.
AUTHOR: Alexander Rodger (1784-1846)
EARLIEST DATE: 1838 (Rodger)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Shon M'Nab is 45 and has seen the world turned upside down: gentlemen become poor and beggars become rich, and Whig turn Tory, Tory turn Whig. He began by herding cows, then fishing in a herring boat. He tried fishing cod off Newfoundland until his boat overturned and he decided he'd fish for cod no more. Back home he had a whisky still until a revenuer had him sent to jail. Once out he went to Glasgow where he saw a thousand wonders: he saw a man, rather than a horse, pulling a cart; he saw a black man music grinder turning his "mill" about, putting nothing in but taking music out. He wondered that so many people had spoons "to sup teir pick o' meat" when, where he came from, a whole house might have only one or two spoons. What sin made the women ashamed to show their face that they covered it with "plack"?
He found it strange to be able to draw water "and ne'er rin dry" and to see lamps in long rows with no wick or lack of oil. The Glasgow folk must have dealings with the Devil for all their use of fire for every purpose "and some o' tem will eat ta fire, And no him's pelly purn [belly burn]"; they use fire to make a coach run on the railroad (M'Nab himself would rather have a horse); they use fire to make vessels run (at the Broomielaw he sees a ship "wi' twa mill-wheels [to] grund ta water sma'"). In Glasgow the houses stretch "mile and mair, Wi' names 'poon ilka toor." He wonders what the people do with all the things he saw; he'd prefer the old ways: brose [oatmeal and boiling water], kilt and hose, and barley brew.
KEYWORDS: clothes commerce farming fishing technology humorous
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
GreigDuncan8 1764, "John MacNab" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
ADDITIONAL: Whistle-Binkie [, First Series] (Glasgow, 1846), pp. 29-32, "Shon M'Nab"
Alexander Rodger, Poems and Songs (Glasgow, 1838), pp. 53-59, "Shon M'Nab"

Roud #13012
Bodleian, Harding B 17(147a), "John M'Nab's Opinion of the March of Intellect" ("Nainsel pe maister Shon M'Nab, pe auld as forty-five, man"), Sanderson (Edinburgh), 1830-1910
cf. "For A' That An' A' That" (tune, per Roger)
cf. "Paddy Backwards" (country man visits city theme) and references there
File: GrD81764

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