The Word on the Street
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Highlights

Humour

Many broadsides had a strong thread of humour - not to mention satire - running through them. Some focused on women's role in society or the latest fashions, while others took a more sideways look at current affairs. In some cases the humour was very topical, but many of these broadsides remain funny even today.

New Intended Act of Parliament
Hear ye, hear ye!
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Hear ye, hear ye!

At first glance this looks like an 'official' document produced by the government authorities. The layout, complete with coat of arms, is typical of that employed by officialdom at the time. But the publisher is merely using these devices to attract the readers' attention. There follows a series of humorous edicts which are perhaps poking fun at some of the petty laws which were really being passed at the time. The initials 'WR' indicate that this broadside was probably published during the reign of William IV (1830-1837).
Last speech of the 'Cross of Edinburgh'
Last speech and dying words
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Last speech and dying words

This broadside parodies the last speeches that were often uttered by people before their execution. It is written as if from the point of view of the 'Cross of Edinburgh', more commonly known as the Mercat Cross, and offers an interesting insight into the events that occurred in its vicinity. The Mercat Cross is situated close to St Giles' Cathedral and was traditionally the chosen location for public announcements, gatherings and executions. Although it was removed in 1756 and taken to Drum House, Prime Minister Gladstone (1809-1898), who was also the MP for Midlothian, was instrumental in returning the Cross to its original location in 1885.

Answer to Ladies Crinolines
Answer to Ladies Crinolines
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Answer to Ladies Crinolines

This broadside, which probably dates from the mid-19th century, appears to be a reply to another in which men make fun of ladies' fashions, particularly the restricting crinoline. Here the author comments unfavourably on the 'young swells' and 'young bucks' strutting about in their finery. There is also the assertion that the hooped petticoat is actually a healthy garment allowing the circulation of air.
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National Library of Scotland 2004

National Library of Scotland