The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Arab's Farewell to his Horse'


This ballad begins: 'My beautiful! my beautiful! that standest meekly by, / With thy proudly arch'd and glossy neck, and dark and fiery eye'. This broadside was priced at one penny and published on Saturday, 5th June 1869. It was published by the Poet's Box, (probably Glasgow) but the town of publication has been obscured.

Although it is not attributed on the broadside, this poem was written by Caroline Norton (1808-77). Norton was the granddaughter of playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816). Her first published poetry appeared in 1829 and as a result she became a successful magazine editor. She found further fame as a political poet and pamphleteer, but also a certain amount of notoriety when it was alleged that she had been having an affair with the Whig Home Secretary Lord Melbourne. The claims were made by Norton's husband, a Tory who was known to be violent toward her. Norton's unhappy marriage influenced her political activism, which contributed to the Marriage and Law Act of 1857.
The Poet?s Box in Glasgow operated from 1849 to 1911. Matthew Leitch was the proprietor at 6 St. Andrew Lane?s, a narrow street on the south side of Gallowgate, from 1850 to 1858. His son William Munsie Leitch worked at the same address from 1859 to 1865 and at varous addresses in London Street until 1911. Many of the broadsides published by the Glasgow Poet?s Box were dated and some carried advertisements, not just for printed items but also for shoe blacking and ?soap for lovers?! Like the other ?boxes? in Dundee and Edinburgh, the Glasgow one sold love songs, sea shanties, parodies and dialogues. It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one in Paisley in the early 1850s owned by William Anderson.
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.

previous pageprevious          
Date of publication: 1808-1877   shelfmark: L.C.1269(173a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Arab's Farewell to his Horse'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland