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William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was an Irish weaver, poet and actor who lived in Scotland. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers' opinions of his work. He wrote about 200 poems, including "The Tay Bridge Disaster" and "The Famous Tay Whale", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Groups throughout Scotland engaged him to make recitations from his work, and contemporary descriptions of these performances indicate that many listeners were appreciating McGonagall's skill as a comic music hall character. Collections of his verse remain popular, with several volumes available today. McGonagall has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms are that he was deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language. His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public.

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List of poems by William Topaz McGonagall 204 total

The Tay Bridge Disaster
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The Demon Drink
 138 Views
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An Address to Shakespeare
 137 Views
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Robert Burns 137 Views
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Death and Burial of Lord Tennyson
 135 Views
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A Humble Heroine
 134 Views
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Oban
 131 Views
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The Fair Maid of Perth's House
 129 Views
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The Summary History of Sir William Wallace
 127 Views
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A Tale of the Sea
 126 Views
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The Late Sir John Ogilvy
 125 Views
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The Collision in the English Channel
 124 Views
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The Crucifixion of Christ
 124 Views
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Loch Leven
 123 Views
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The Battle of Bannockburn
 122 Views
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The Storming of the Dargai Heights
 122 Views
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The Rattling Boy from Dublin 120 Views
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Wreck of the Schooner Samuel Crawford
 119 Views
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Beautiful Balmerino
 119 Views
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The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay
 118 Views
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A Tribute to Mr Murphy and the Blue Ribbon Army
 117 Views
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A Summary History of Lord Clive
 116 Views
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Forget-Me-Not
 116 Views
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Lines in Praise of the Lyric Club Banquet
 116 Views
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The Sorrows of the Blind
 116 Views
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Annie Marshall the Foundling
 115 Views
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Beautiful Rothesay
 115 Views
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General Gordon, the Hero of Khartoum
 115 Views
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Montrose
 114 Views
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Bonnie Callander
 114 Views
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The Funeral of the Late Prince Henry of Battenberg
 114 Views
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The Burial of Mr. Gladstone
 113 Views
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The Burning of the People's Variety Theatre, Aberdeen
 113 Views
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The Death of the Old Mendicant
 113 Views
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Calamity in London
 112 Views
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The Battle of El-Teb
 112 Views
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Attempted Assassination of the Queen
 111 Views
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The Bonnie Sidlaw Hills
 111 Views
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The Wreck of the Barque Wm. Paterson of Liverpool
 111 Views
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Balmoral Castle
 110 Views
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Hanchen, the Maid of the Mill
 110 Views
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Lines in Reply to the Beautiful Poet Who Welcomed News of McGonagall's Departure from Dundee 109 Views
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Little Popeet - the Lost Child
 109 Views
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The Famous Tay Whale
 109 Views
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A New Temperance Poem, in Memory of My Departed Parents, Who Were Sober Living & God Fearing People
 108 Views
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Grace Darling
 108 Views
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McGonagall's Ode to the King
 108 Views
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The Death of the Rev. Dr. Wilson
 108 Views
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The Inauguration of the University College
 108 Views
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The Burns Statue 107 Views
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Adventures of King Robert the Bruce
 107 Views
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Jenny Carrister, The Heroine of Lucknow-Mine
 107 Views
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The Battle of Culloden
 107 Views
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An Address to the New Tay Bridge
 106 Views
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Beautiful Balmoral
 106 Views
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Lines in Praise of Professor Blackie
 106 Views
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Mary, the Maid o' the Tay
 106 Views
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The Battle of Corunna
 106 Views
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Beautiful Crief
 105 Views
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Broughty Ferry
 105 Views
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The Downfall of Delhi
 105 Views
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The Hero of Rorke's Drift
 105 Views
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The Kessack Ferry-Boat Fatality
 104 Views
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A Requisition to the Queen
 103 Views
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The Death of Lord and Lady Dalhousie
 103 Views
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The Wreck of the Barque Lynton
 103 Views
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The Wreck of the Columbine
 101 Views
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The Battle of Flodden Field
 100 Views
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Little Pierre's Song
 99 Views
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The Burning of the Steamer City of Montreal
 99 Views
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Bill Bowls the Sailor
 98 Views
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Captain Teach alias Black Beard
 98 Views
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The Sprig of Moss
 96 Views
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Descriptive Jottings of London
 96 Views
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Farewell Address at the Argyle Hall
 96 Views
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The Battle of Atbara
 96 Views
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The Den o' Fowlis
 96 Views
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The Hero of Kalapore
 94 Views
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The Loss of the Victoria
 94 Views
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A Descriptive Poem on the Silvery Tay
 93 Views
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Grif, of the Bloody Hand
 93 Views
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The Little Match Girl
 93 Views
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The Rebel Surprise Near Tamai
 92 Views
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A Tribute to Mr J. Graham Henderson, The World's Fair Judge 91 Views
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The Battle of Alexandria
 90 Views
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The Pennsylvania Disaster
 90 Views
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The Relief of Mafeking
 90 Views
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Little Jamie
 88 Views
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The Irish Convict's Return
 88 Views
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The Burial of the Reverend Gilfillan
 87 Views
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The Clepington Catastrophe
 87 Views
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Lord Robert's Triumphal Entry into Pretoria
 86 Views
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Beautiful Nairn
 84 Views
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The Queen's Jubilee Celebrations
 84 Views
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The Battle of Omdurman
 83 Views
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A Tale of Christmas Eve
 83 Views
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Edinburgh
 83 Views
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The Funeral of the German Emperor
 83 Views
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The Great Franchise Demonstration
 83 Views
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The Wreck of the Thomas Dryden
 82 Views
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Lines in Memoriam Regarding the Entertainment in Reform Street Hall, Dundee
 81 Views
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The Sunderland Calamity
 81 Views
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The Albion Battleship Calamity
 80 Views
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The First Grenadier of France
 80 Views
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The Terrific Cyclone of 1893
 78 Views
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The Troubles of Matthew Mahoney
 78 Views
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Beautiful Newport on the Braes o' the Silvery Tay
 77 Views
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Jack o' the Cudgel
 77 Views
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Jottings of New York
 76 Views
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The Battle of the Nile
 76 Views
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Burning of the Exeter Theatre
 75 Views
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The Inauguration of the Hill o' Balgay
 74 Views
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An Excursion Steamer Sunk in the Tay
 73 Views
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The Death of Prince Leopold
 73 Views
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The Beautiful City of Perth
 72 Views
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The Heatherblend Club Banquet
 72 Views
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The Battle of Sheriffmuir
 71 Views
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The Moon
 70 Views
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A Tale of Elsinore
 70 Views
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An Autumn Reverie
 70 Views
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Beautiful Monikie
 70 Views
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Nora, the Maid of Killarney
 69 Views
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Beautiful Edinburgh
 68 Views
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The Battle of Abu Klea
 68 Views
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The Execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose
 68 Views
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The Wreck of the Whaler Oscar
 68 Views
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The Great Yellow River Inundation in China
 67 Views
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The Destroying Angel
 65 Views
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The Wreck of the Steamer Stella
 65 Views
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Women's Suffrage
 65 Views
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Beautiful Torquay
 64 Views
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Loch Ness
 64 Views
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The Convict's Return
 64 Views
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An Ode to the Queen on Her Jubilee Year
 63 Views
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The Capture of Lucknow
 63 Views
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The Disastrous Fire at Scarborough
 62 Views
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The Funeral of the Late Ex-Provost Rough, Dundee
 61 Views
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The River of Leith
 61 Views
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Bonnie Dundee in 1878
 60 Views
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The Ancient Town of Leith
 60 Views
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A Tribute to Henry M. Stanley
 58 Views
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The Nithsdale Widow and Her Son
 57 Views
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Glasgow
 56 Views
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The Burning of the Ship Kent
 56 Views
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General Roberts in Afghanistan
 55 Views
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The Tragic Death of the Rev. A.H. Mackonochie
 54 Views
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Beautiful Aberfoyle
 53 Views
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The Wreck of the Steamer London
 53 Views
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To Mr James Scrymgeour, Dundee
 53 Views
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Bonnie Kilmany
 51 Views
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Lines in Praise of Tommy Atkins
 51 Views
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Jack Honest, or the Widow and Her Son
 50 Views
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The Battle of Waterloo
 50 Views
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The Bonnie Lass o' Dundee
 49 Views
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An Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan
 48 Views
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Baldovan
 48 Views
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Beautiful Comrie
 48 Views
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The Battle of Shina, in Africa, Fought in 1800
 47 Views
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The Death of Captain Ward
 47 Views
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The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan
 47 Views
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Beautiful North Berwick
 46 Views
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A Christmas Carol
 44 Views
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An All-Night Sea Fight
 44 Views
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Richard Pigott, the Forger
 44 Views
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The Capture of Havana
 44 Views
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Lines in Defence of the Stage
 43 Views
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The Bonnie Lass o' Ruily
 43 Views
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The Miraculous Escape of Robert Allan, the Fireman
 42 Views
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An Adventure in the Life of King James V of Scotland
 42 Views
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Beautiful Village of Penicuik
 42 Views
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The Beautiful Sun
 41 Views
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The Castle of Mains
 41 Views
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The Death of the Queen
 41 Views
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The Horrors of Majuba
 41 Views
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John Rouat the Fisherman
 40 Views
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The Battle of Alma
 40 Views
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Loch Katrine
 38 Views
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The Newport Railway
 38 Views
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The Blind Girl
 36 Views
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Greenland's Icy Mountains
 36 Views
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The Village of Tayport and Its Surroundings
 36 Views
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Saving a Train
 35 Views
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The Black Watch Memorial
 35 Views
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An Ode to the Queen
 34 Views
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Lines in Praise of Mr. J. Graham Henderson, Hawick
 34 Views
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The Wreck of the Abercrombie Robinson
 34 Views
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The Wreck of the Steamer Storm Queen
 34 Views
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Lost in the Prairie
 33 Views
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The Christmas Goose
 33 Views
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The Last Berkshire Eleven
 33 Views
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A Soldier's Reprieve
 32 Views
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The Battle of Glencoe
 32 Views
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Bonnie Montrose
 31 Views
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The Battle of Inkermann
 31 Views
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The Death of Fred Marsden, the American Playwright
 31 Views
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The Battle of Cressy
 28 Views
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The Ashantee War
 27 Views
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The Royal Review
 27 Views
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A New Year's Resolution to Leave Dundee 26 Views
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The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir
 26 Views
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The Wreck of the Indian Chief
 26 Views
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Young Munro the Sailor
 25 Views
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A Tribute to Dr. Murison
 21 Views
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The Battle of Gujrat
 21 Views
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