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Broadside ballad entitled 'An Account of the Doctor and his Patients'


This ballad begins: 'THERE was a prudent grave Physician, / Careful of Patients as you'd wish one; / Much Good he did with Purge and Glister, / And well he knew to raise a Blister; / Many he cur'd, and more he wou'd, / By Vomit, Flux, and letting Blood; / But still his Patients came again, / And most of their old Ills complain'.

Broadside ballads covered many subjects, from love to war, and often contained some deeper moral message. 'An Account of the Doctor and his Patients' is primarily a comic song. Its 'message', plainly printed at the end, is that despite advice and warnings about what is 'right', humans will continue to act on their impulses and appetites: 'The wife may preach, and Satyrists rail, / Custom and Nature will prevail.'

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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Probable period of publication: 1700-1720   shelfmark: RB.I.106(103)
Broadside ballad entitled 'An Account of the Doctor and his Patients'
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