This broadside letter begins: 'Letter from a Friend on a Journey to the North, to an inhabitant of Auld Reekie; being a CURIOUS and ENTERTAINING MEDLY OF SCOTCH SONGS.' A note at the foot of the sheet states that this letter was written or published on the 1st of May, 1822. The letter is signed with the initials, 'W.W.'. 'Auld Reekie' is an old nickname for Edinburgh.
This rather strange letter claims to be a descriptive account of a man's journey in the north of Scotland - most likely the Highlands. After politely telling the recipient of the letter, 'Geordie', how much he missed his friend's company during the journey, the writer then proceeds to describe his journey and the people that he met during it. It appears likely, however, that this letter is a work of humorous fiction, since much of it is composed of the titles to well-known Scottish folk songs. Thus, the letter reads much like a listing of folk songs, with the exception that the titles to these songs have been woven into a narrative. Clearly, this letter was written to entertain its audience and to flaunt the letter-writer's skill in constructing a narrative.
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.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Date of publication:
1822 shelfmark: L.C.1268
View larger image