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Broadside ballad entitled 'Scotch Words'


Verse 1: 'They speak in riddles north between the Tweed, / The plain, pure English they can deftly read; / Yet when without the book they come to speak, / Their lingo is half English and half Greek.' Although the sheet is not dated and the publisher is not named, a note below the title states that 'Copies can always be had at 80 London Street', one of the addresses of the Glasgow Poet's Box.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
As suggested by the word 'Scotch' in the title, this broadside is a light-hearted attack on the Scots language by an English writer who considers himself superior, simply because he speaks 'proper' English. After providing his audience with a list of Scots words, he tells of a humorous escapade that occurred when an English lady was touring in Scotland. On retiring to bed, Lady Delacour's servant advised her that, to stay warm, she should sleep with a 'pig' in her bed. As 'pig' is a Scots word for 'hot water bottle', a series of delicate - and amusing - misunderstandings arise from this awkward situation.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse

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Probable period of publication: 1860-1890   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(76)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Scotch Words'
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