This broadside story begins: 'A Full, True and Particular Account of a most wonderful and Astonishing Catastrophe that took place a few evenings, in a gentleman's house, in Fettes Row, ner Stockbridge, Edinburgh, when a Black Quadruped of the feline species absolutely swallowed a paper, containing many popular and learned Essays and dissertations on various subjects, too numerous to insert in out small limits . . . . but which must be interesting to all out readers.' 'Pock means' 'bag'. A note below the introduction states that this story was 'Extracted from the New North Briton', which was a weekly newspaper.
This broadside tells the light-hearted story of a cat that developed a talent for eating paper, thus interrupting the reading habits of its owner. In short, this story is the feline equivalent of the proverbial 'shaggy dog's tale'. However, given that this cat particularly enjoys eating reports from the King's court concerning his majesty's health and a speech from the General Assembly, it could be argued that this amusing story contains a cunningly subversive element of irreverence towards the Establishment.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
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