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Broadside entitled 'Copy of a letter from Michael M'Cabe'


This broadside begins: 'Just published, an interesting Letter from Michael M'Cabe, now lying under Sentence of Death, on the Gaud, in the Calton Jail, addressed to Rebecca Hudson, Bell's Wynd, his Sweetheart, which is published here by his own desire.' It was published in 1833.

The letter reproduced here, apparently from a condemned murderer to his lover, is one example of a popular topic in broadside literature, that of last words or deathbed repentance. Sometimes broadsides on this subject might take the form of a transcription of a condemned man's last words on the scaffold, while others might be in the form of a letter. A common element is the cautionary nature of the words spoken or wrtitten, as in this example where McCabe exhorts his lover to renounce her sins and embrace a Christian life. It is not really possible to prove the authenticity of McCabe's authorship.

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: 1833   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(75)
Broadside entitled 'Copy of a letter from Michael M'Cabe'
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