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Broadside entitled 'Sorrowful Lamentation'


This lamentation is introduced by a prose passge which begins: 'An account of the Sorrowful Lamentation of John Wilson and Duncan Frazer, 2 young men, who are to be executed at Edinburgh, on the 28th january 1824.' The first verse of the lamentation reads: Though in a dismal cell we stay, / We think time passes swift away, / We have not long to mediatate, / Upon our fast-approaching fate.' It was published in Edinburgh by the travelling booksellers in 1824.

The verses here are almost certainly not the work of John Wilson and Duncan Frazer, despite the attribution in the introduction: 'their behaviour has been most examplary and pious, as may be seen from the following effusions'. The verses, in simple rhyming couplets, follow a standard formula for lamentations, describing the misery of the condemned and their prayers and wishes for forgiveness, and warning the reader not to sin and to lead a Christian life. The author is likely to have been an experienced broadside writer.

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: 1824   shelfmark: F.3.a.14(14)
Broadside entitled 'Sorrowful Lamentation'
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