This comic broadside begins: 'The DEADLY GROANS of the WHISKY STILLS: who were condemned to suffer Martyrdom on the 17th of thei spresent month of July 1795, for the horrid and bloody murder of starving above 200,000 professed Christians in this island. With the sorrowful lamentation of all the Dram-Drinkers.' There are no publication details included.
Last words or speeches from the scaffold, attributed to condemned criminals, were quite commonly printed on broadsides. The example shown here is a parody of the 'last word' category of broadside. It is supposedly narrated by a whisky still facing 'execution'. This comic piece was undoubtedly inspired by the crackdown on illegal whisky distilling which occurred in the late eighteenth century. The vast majority of whisky in Scotland was produced illicitly from illegal stills, due to the high taxation on malt whisky, and in the 1780s and 1790s, thousands of illegal stills were seized and destroyed.
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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Date of publication:
1795 shelfmark: APS.4.82.28
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