This satirical political address begins: 'FELLOW CITIZENS / In this enlightened age, when the advantages of local position are justly esteemed paramount to those of intellectual superiority or public eminence, I come forward boldly to claim your suffrages on grounds altogether independent of my political principles or of my mental qualifications.' The letter is signed, 'Your known friend, TIMOTHEUS SYNTAX, for J LEARMONTH'. Although there are no publication details available for this sheet, the subject matter suggests it was most likely published during the 1830s.
This highly amusing broadside pokes fun at politicians in general, and at John Learmonth (1789-1858), in particular. Owner of the Dean Estate, John Learmonth was Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1832. Given the libellous nature of the address, it is clear that Learmonth himself did not write this broadside - hence the classical pseudonym, 'Timotheus Syntax'. The address also mentions two other famous politicians of that era, namely Robert Adam Dundas and Sir John Campbell. The National Library of Scotland's collection contains a number of political broadsides that report on electoral contests in Edinburgh during this period.
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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