This news report begins: 'This day is published, the Full Particulars of the Proceedings which have been lately carried on in that Infamous Den in St David's Street, Edinburgh; with the examination of Mr and Mrs Balfour, and 2 young ladies, belonging to that Splendid Establishment?' The publisher of the broadside was Forbes of Edinburgh, and the story was sourced from the Scotsman newspaper.
In the case described here, the accused are dismissed from the bar due to a lack of corroborating evidence. Nevertheless, the contents of this broadside report imply that there is little doubt about their guilt, and openly describes Mr and Mrs Balfour as 'brothel-keepers'. The deeply moralising tone, particulary in the final paragraph, anticipates modern tabloid editorials.
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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