This report begins: 'Copy of a very interesting ADDRESS to the prisoners in Jedburgh, Greenlaw and Berwick Jails, written, and delivered to a Friend a few hours before his Death, by ROBERT SCOTT, who was Executed on Wednesday 29th October, 1823, on the Road between Earlston and Greenlaw, for the Murder of Two Men, and his body given for Dissection.' It was published by James MacLean, probably of Glasgow, in 1823, and priced at one penny.
This address to prisoners has a morally didactic tone. It warns in particular against drunkenness, and also against 'whoring, stealing and swearing', exhorting the audience instead to observe the Sabbath and pray to God 'night and day'. The idea that this sermon was written by a man facing death for his sins gives it added urgency. However, the eloquence and biblical register of the language used indicate that Robert Scott did not actually write it. More likely the author was a minister, perhaps one who attended Scott in his final days.
Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.
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Date of publication:
1823 shelfmark: F.3.a.14(3a)
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