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

Broadside story entitled 'The Wonder of Wonders Being'


This broadside story begins: 'A strange and wonderful Relation concerning a Mermaid that was seen and spoke with on the Cliff of Cromarry, near Inverness in Scotland, by a young gentleman, a Merchant, named Lauchland Mackintosh, who was tossed on the main Ocean for four Days and Nights. Together with an account of his wonderful Dream, and the strange Conversation he had with the Mermaid, and how he was preserved after his Return to Inverness.' There are no publication details included on this sheet.

Illustrated with two woodcuts depicting nautical images, this broadside tells the story of a young seafarer who entered a fantastical land, after being caught up in a storm at sea. It seems that he met a beautiful young lady who showed him round her castle, which was guarded by five massive serpents. It turns out, however, that this young lady was in fact a mermaid. The delirious nature of the sailor means that his story is blurred between a dream landscape and real life, although he claims that the ring on his finger was a token of affection left to him by the mermaid. Supernatural tales such as this would have appealed to the imagination of the general public.

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          
Probable date published: 1760-   shelfmark: APS.4.87.46
Broadside story entitled 'The Wonder of Wonders Being'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland