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Broadside ballad entitled 'Meditations of a Coal Horse at a Toll Bar'


This ballad begins: 'O SIRS, and maun I stand and chitter / A' nicht aneath the blast sae bitter'. This poem was, allegedly, written by 'A four-footed tee-totaller'.

Broadside authors tended to see themselves as moral guardians and teachers in society. As such, publishers often disseminated 'educational' texts involving life lessons and advice. There are a few broadsides in the National Library of Scotland's Collection which are written from a horse's point of view, which may appear odd. Horses, however, were really the only means of long-distance travel and heavy haulage. Horse drivers were also renowned for their poverty and outrageous drinking habits.

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: 1850-1870   shelfmark: L.C.1268
Broadside ballad entitled 'Meditations of a Coal Horse at a Toll Bar'
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