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Broadside entitled 'An Elegy'


This broadside begins: 'An Elegy upon the much to be lamented Death of the Reverend Mr. John Wilson, Minister of the Gospel at North Lieth, who departed this Life the 1st. of September, 1724.' The elegy begins: 'Still we do find, Black Cloth wears out the first, / And Fruits that are the choicest keep the worst'. The elegy was composed by William Gibson. The epitaph at the bottom of the sheet begins: 'Here Meekness lies interr'd with Wisdom's Light, / Zeal with Charity, a Pastor shining bright'.

Whilst a number of broadsides include a small woodcut illustration at the top of the sheet, adding to the visual appeal, this elegy contains an unusually high degree of illustrative detail. The top of the sheet shows a skull and crossbones along with the Latin phrase 'memento mori' (remember you must die), and the text is bordered on both sides by the image of the crossbones, a skeleton, and two crossed spades. Wilson must have been a prominent figure to warrant this rather ornate form of remembrance.

Broadsides are often crudely illustrated with woodcuts - the earliest form of printed illustration, first used in the mid-fifteenth century. Inclusion of an illustration on a broadside increased its perceived value, especially among the illiterate. To keep costs down, publishers would normally reuse their limited stock of generic woodcuts.

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Probable date published: 1724   shelfmark: Ry.III.c.36(098)
Broadside entitled 'An Elegy'
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