Rare Books - Important Acquisitions List All

Rare Book Collections works to build up the national collections through purchases (through dealers or at auction) and donations. This directory gives details of 761 of the most important items we have acquired since 2000. We update it regularly as new material comes in. The description gives information about why it was chosen and what makes it particularly interesting. You can order the list by date of acquisition, author or title.

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. Email us at rarebooks@nls.uk

      

Important Acquisitions 31 to 45 of 761:

Ordered by date acquired
Order by author | Order by title
AuthorAnon
TitleThe song of Solomon
ImprintLondon: Guild of Women Binders
Date of Publication1897
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis book is bound in a modelled goatskin medieval-style binding popularised by Scottish women binders of the late 19th century. The technique was developed by Annie MacDonald (d. 1924) who along with a few other women in Edinburgh had begun binding books in the 1890s. Walter Biggar Blaikie (whose collection of Jacobite-related books and manuscripts is now in NLS) of the publishers A. & J. Constable let them use his workshops after hours. From 1895 two of Constable's workmen, a finisher and a forwarder, taught the group of women in premises owned by Edinburgh Social Union. MacDonald tried various types of leather for modelled bindings but found that natural goatskin, before any curing processes, could be moulded as she wanted. The modelling was done after the book itself was covered in the goatskin. It involved neither cutting nor raising the leather to relief. The design was traced onto the dampened leather and worked with one small tool called a 'Dresden', which was used to carefully press the background and mould the relief design. Using glue rather than paste to cover the books, the leather was a pale ivory when completed which developed into a richer brown once aged. The work of MacDonald and the other Edinburgh-based women inspired London bookseller Frank Karslake to found of the Guild of Women Binders in 1898 as an outlet for the sale of work by women binders who lived outside London, including the Edinburgh women. Karslake advertised a series of books specially printed for the Guild on Japanese vellum and bound by Guild members, including 'The Song of Solomon', which was one of 100 numbered copies (this particular copy being number 31). A pencil note on the front free endpaper, "worker Mrs MacDonald", would seem to indicate that it was done by Annie MacDonald herself. However, the 1900 Sotheby's catalogue of bindings done by the Guild of Women binders reveals that there were at least two separate "embossed mediaeval morocco" bindings of the Japanese vellum printing of the 'Song of Solomon'. One was done by Annie MacDonald, "the design adapted from the cover-design", and one by a "Miss Pagan", "the designs adapted from the illustrations". An Annie MacDonald binding for the 'Song of the Solomon' which is now held in Duke University Library, is reproduced in Marianne Tidcombe's "Women bookbinders 1880-1920" p. 98. The Duke University binding is a likely match for the one described in the Sotheby's catalogue as having done by Annie MacDonald, given that it resembles the cover of the regular 1897 edition of the 'Song of Solomon' published by Chapman and Hall. It is possible that she did more than one binding of this particular edition; but the design for this particular binding is adapted from the illustrations within the book, not the cover of the regular edition, and would seem to correspond to Miss Pagan's binding. The design on the front board is based on the art-nouveau style illustrations in the book by Herbert Granville Fell (1872-1951), along with a quote from the Song of Solomon as a decorative border : "Many waters cannot quench love neither can the floods drown it. Love is strong as death". The back board contains the ownership initials "H.F.C. 1898". "Miss Pagan" may be Jean Pagin, who was one of the women binders associated with Edinburgh Social Union, the main amateur arts and crafts organisation in the city (Tidcombe also mentions in an appendix to her book the existence of a binder called Jeannie E. Pagan but this may be same person as Jean Pagin). The turn-in on the front board simply records in gilt lettering that this binding is by the Guild of Women Binders. What is notable is that this copy has normal paper endpapers, where in other modelled bindings silk endpapers were used because the goatskin tended to stain both paper and vellum - as has happened in this copy. Inserted in this copy is a printed advertisement slip for the Guild of Women Binders describing this style of binding as a "revival of the mediaeval monastic binding".
ShelfmarkBdg.m.176
Reference SourcesM. Tidcombe, 'Women bookbinders 1880-1920', London, 1996.
Acquired on28/03/14
AuthorMartin Martin
TitleA late voyage to St. Kilda, the remotest of all the Hebrides, or Western Isles of Scotland
ImprintLondon: Printed for D. Brown, and T. Goodwin
Date of Publication1698
LanguageEnglish
NotesMartin Martin (d. 1718), the Scottish traveller and author, wrote the first published account of the remote Scottish island group of St. Kilda, based on his experiences during a trip to the islands made in 1697. The work was published in London the following year with some success and he would go on to publish in 1703 his celebrated 'Description of the Western Islands of Scotland'. The Advocates Library copy of the latter is believed to have been taken by James Boswell on his journey with Samuel Johnson to the Highlands and Inner Hebrides in 1773. This particular copy of 'A late voyage' has been acquired for the Library as the existing Library copy was imperfect, lacking the half title, whereas this copy is complete. It also has a noteworthy provenance. It contains the late 18th-century armorial bookplate of James Whatman, Vinters, Kent, and an inscription on the title page "J. Whatman 1800", which indicates the book was in the library of the famous paper-making family the Whatmans, either collected by James Whatman II (1741-1798) or his son James Whatman III (1777-1843).
ShelfmarkRB.s.2901
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on14/03/14
AuthorAnon
TitleA Scottish penny wedding
ImprintBelfast: Simms and M'Intyre
Date of Publication1840?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis Belfast-printed broadside contains a large wood engraving printed from nine individual blocks. It shows a lively wedding scene in a barn with bride and groom dancing to fiddle music and guests eating and drinking. There were three sorts of wedding in Scotland in the early half of the 19th-century: the free wedding, where only a few select friends were invited and the guests were not to be the cause of any expense; the dinner wedding, where a dinner was provided by the marriage party; and the penny wedding (also known as the penny bridal), where each guest contributed financially or by way of food towards the dinner and then paid for their own drink, and which by the end of the festivities (which could go on for several days) could bring in a tidy profit for the newly-weds. This latter type of wedding was particularly common across rural Scotland, despite the disapproval of the Kirk. The three-column poem printed beneath the illustration is 'Twas on the morn of sweet May-day' also known as 'Jockey to the fair', a wedding-themed song often appearing in 18th- and 19th-century chapbooks.
ShelfmarkAP.el.214.02
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorPindar
TitleTa tou Pindarou Olympia
ImprintGlasgow: R. and A. Foulis
Date of Publication1754
LanguageGreek
NotesThis is the first volume of the miniature Foulis Press edition of the ancient Greek poet Pindar's odes (printed 1754-58), this copy being one of only a few recorded copies printed on silk. It is a separate bibliographic item as only volume was the only printed in silk and accordingly it does not have the general title page of the regular 4-volume set. This is in fact only one of two miniature books printed on silk by the Foulis Press of Glasgow, the other being an edition of Anacreon printed in 1751 (a copy was acquired by the Library in 2003). It showcases the quality of their printing and the clarity of the Greek type they developed. The book is in a contemporary red morocco binding.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2892
Reference SourcesGaskell, A bibliography of the Foulis Press, 2nd ed., 1986, no. 274
Acquired on28/02/14
AuthorFerguson, Adam
TitleRicerche storiche e critiche su le cause dei progressi e del decadimento della repubblica Romana. [History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic]
ImprintVenice: presso Antonio Zatta e figli
Date of Publication1793-94
LanguageItalian
NotesThis is the first Italian translation of Adam Ferguson's 'History of the progress and termination of the Roman Republic', first published as a 3-volume work in English in 1783. No copies of this 8-volume translation are recorded in major UK libraries. Ferguson's history of the Roman republic proved to be one of his most popular works, receiving critical acclaim in his native Scotland and from the historian Edward Gibbon, who had written the definitive work on Roman history 'The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire'. A French translation of Ferguson's work had already appeared in Paris, in 1784-91, and a German translation in Leipzig in 1784-86, by the time this Italian translation (by an unknown translator) appeared. Unlike the French and German editions, the Italian edition does not include the maps which appeared in the first English edition. This particular copy is still in the original publisher's paper wrappers with an attractive floral design.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2882-2889
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on24/01/14
Author[Anon]
TitleRemarks on a voyage to the Hebrides, in a letter to Samuel Johnson, LL.D
ImprintLondon : G. Kearsly
Date of Publication1775
LanguageEnglish
NotesIn January 1775 Samuel Johnson's 'Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland' was published. His account of his three-month tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the late summer and early autumn of 1773, in the company of James Boswell, met with a mixed reception. Scots were affronted by his apparent bias against their country and his description of primitive culture in the Highlands, as well as his dismissal of the poems of Ossian as a modern invention by their editor James Macpherson. Journalists in both Edinburgh and London, politically hostile to Johnson, accused him of ingratitude in abusing Scottish hospitality. A brief entry in the 'Caledonian Mercury' for 4 February 1775 went as far as to state that Johnson was "now under a course of mercury" having caught the pox ("Scotch fiddle") "in the embraces of a female mountaineer" on this island of Coll. This anonymous and acerbic pamphlet addressed to the English author, while not descending into the cheap abuse of the 'Caledonian Mercury', was part of the attack on Johnson's work. The author, clearly a proud Scot, begins by commenting on Johnsons life-long prejudice against Scotland: "The contemptible ideas you have long entertained of Scotland and its inhabitants, have been too carefully propagated not to be universally known; and those who read your Journey, if they cannot applaud your candour, must at least praise your consistency, for you have been very careful not to contradict yourself. Your prejudice, like a plant, has gathered strength with age - the shrub which you nursed so many years in the hothouse of confidential conversation, is now become a full-grown tree, and planted in the open air" (pp. 2-3). The author goes on to make detailed observations on Johnson's inaccuracies and misjudgements in the book. The conclusion of the pamphlet is predictably damning, "the flame of national rancour and reproach has been for several years but too well fed you too have added your faggot" (p. 35). The truth of the matter was more complex. Johnson was deeply interested in Scotland and had a deep knowledge of its culture and history in comparison with other Englishmen of his day. Most of his anti-Scottish remarks seem to have been intended simply to provoke and tease. As someone with Jacobite sympathies, his criticisms were more directed at Scottish Presbyterianism and the way its supporters, in his opinion, had betrayed the house of Stuart and allowed elements of Scotland's native culture to decline. Johnson himself could shrug off all criticism of the work; the book earned him 200 guineas, as well as the admiration of George III, and considerable success in terms of sales.
ShelfmarkAB.2.214.04
Reference SourcesP. Rogers, 'Johnson and Boswell: the transit of Caledonia' Oxford, 1995; M. Pittock "Johnson and Scotland" in 'Samuel Johnson in Historical Context' (ed. Clark and Erskine-Hill) Basingstoke, 2002; bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on03/01/14
AuthorHarnisch, Carl.
TitleBildliche Darstellungen in Arabeskenform zu Ossians Gedichten
ImprintBerlin: G. Reimer
Date of Publication1835
LanguageGerman
NotesThis is a rare copy, in its original wrappers, of a portfolio of six lithographs, and a leaf of descriptive text, by the German artist Carl Harnisch (1800-1882). The lithographs are illustrations are inspired by the poems of Ossian, which had already appeared in German translation in the 1770s and continued to be popular in the early 19th century. The artist has done them in the arabesque form, which uses a decorative motif comprising surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage and tendrils. The European version of arabesque art was inspired by early Islamic art and became widely used from the 15th and 16th centuries onwards. In his introduction Harnisch states that, "the following leaves, a series of drawings in the arabesque form, arose out of reading Ossian. The intention of their creator, as can been seen from the chosen form of representation, has been to portray an overall view of the ancient Nordic bard's individual sensibilities and poetry, rather than each drawing represent a particular passage in the poet's work." Harnisch had already published in 1832 a series of arabesque lithographs of illustrations inspired by Goethe's Faust. Harnisch later emigrated to the USA where he continued to work as an artist and lithographer.
ShelfmarkRB.el.30
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on20/12/13
AuthorBeatson, Alexander.
TitlePapers relating to the devastation committed by goats on the island of St. Helena.
ImprintSt. Helena : Printed for S. Solomon by J. Coupland,
Date of Publication1810
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of the first items printed on the island of St Helena; it addresses, among other things, the issue of the harm that could be caused to a local ecosystem by the introduction of an alien species, in this instance - goats. St Helena is a small island (47 square miles in area) in the South Atlantic Ocean, which was occupied by the English East India Company from 1658 onwards. Regarded as one of the most isolated islands in the world, it was nevertheless colonized by the English due to its important strategic position as a stop-off point for ships sailing from Asia or South Africa to Europe. In 1807 the Scottish army officer Alexander Beatson (1759-1830) was appointed as governor of the island, a post he held from 1808 to 1813. Beatson found that the island, which still belonged to the East India Company, was in a very impoverished state. He set up a series of improving measures for the island and the islanders and was able to use a printing press, which had been set up in 1806, to communicate his plans. A newspaper was printed on the island in 1807, but no book publication is recorded until 1810, with an abstract of the laws usually being regarded as the island's first publication. The present pamphlet was printed the same year, and contains the text of Beatson's proposal to print the abstract of the laws and ordinances, so may in fact precede it. The pamphlet's main text is Beatson's essay "Remarks on the evil consequences which have resulted from the introduction of goats upon the island of St. Helena". Beatson had a strong interest in agriculture and he had seen at first-hand how the introduction of goats to St Helena had greatly changed its landscape, as they had eaten much of its native vegetation and posed a constant threat to the vegetables and crops grown by the islanders. According to Beatson, goats had been introduced by the Portuguese as early as 1543, on what was then a thickly forested island. The Portuguese did not leave a permanent settlement on St Helena and the goat population had been left to grow unchecked in the absence of any natural predators. By 1809, according to Beatson, there were 1811 sheep and 2887 goats on the island, and he argues in favour of exterminating the goat population. The rest of the pamphlet consists of reports on Beatson's own agricultural experiments on the island growing cereal crops and a record of the ensuing lively debate among the islanders over whether the goat population should be exterminated or not. Beatson in his final contribution to the debate, in a minute dated 29 November 1810, suggests that until a decision on the goat issue is made by the Court of Directors of the East India Company, landowners should be allowed to shoot goats trespassing onto cultivated land, with the animals' owners being compensated five shillings per goat. The final contribution to the debate is a minute by William Doveton, a local landowner and "grazier", who was working for the East India Company. Doveton argues against total extermination of the goat population, regarding them as valuable property, but does support the culling of goats that stray onto cultivated land. Despite his failure to eradicate the goat population, Beatson continued to experiment with agriculture on the island until he left in 1813. His experiments, details of which he published in 1816 in 'Tracts relative to the island of St. Helena', have been described as a major contribution to the beginnings of global environmentalism. 200 years on St Helena continues to grapple with the problems caused by the depredations of alien species and sustaining farming in area with poor, thin soil, which is susceptible to drought. In 2012 it was reported that the legislative council of St Helena was considering an increase in the fine for letting goats (and sheep) stray on to Crown land. A rise from 25 pence to 250 was proposed, in the hope that a "more meaningful" deterrent would help protect vulnerable plants and trees. Beatson would no doubt have approved.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2880
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
Author[Anon]
TitleThe Edinburgh almanack for the year MDCCLXXVII.
ImprintEdinburgh : R. Fleming
Date of Publication1777
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 1777 printing of the Edinburgh almanack (no copies recorded in ESTC) is notable for being in a contemporary red morocco wallet binding. An examination of the tools used on the binding shows that it is the work of Edinburgh's finest bookbinder of the 18th century, James Scott, and not recorded in J.H. Loudon's bibliography of Scott's work. The edges of the boards are decorated with the rococo-style rolls used by Scott. The lion rampant tool used on the spine is listed by Loudon as having been used by Scott's son, William, in the 1780s; however, the use here would indicate that it was used first by James Scott. No other wallet bindings by either Scott are recorded by Loudon, making this a rare and handsome oddity.
ShelfmarkBdg.s.961
Reference SourcesJ.H. Loudon, "James Scott and William Scott, bookbinders" (London, 1980); bookseller's notes
Acquired on29/11/13
AuthorNorth British Society (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
TitleRules and regulations of the North-British Society in Halifax, Nova-Scotia.
ImprintHalifax, Nova Scotia: John Howe
Date of Publication1791
LanguageEnglish
NotesThe Halifax North British Society was founded on 26 March 1768, making it the oldest Scottish charitable society formed in Canada. The Halifax society was the latest addition to a small number of ethnic Scottish associations established along the eastern seaboard of North America. The first one was the Charitable Society of Boston, which was set up as early as 1657 to provide relief for local Scottish people in need. By the mid-18th century St Andrew's Societies had been established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1729, in Philadelphia in 1747, and in New York in 1756. Canadian societies were slower to develop as Canada did not become the main destination of British emigrants until after the American Revolution. The town of Halifax in Nova Scotia had been founded in 1749 under the direction of the British Board of Trade and Plantations under the command of Governor Edward Cornwallis. The town was named after the British statesman the 2nd Earl of Halifax, who had played a major role in the founding of the settlement. The creation of the town was an attempt to bring European Protestant settlers to the region to counter-balance the presence of French Catholic settlers in Nova Scotia; it contravened existing treaties with the French and Native American tribes and subsequently triggered a war between the rival factions. Halifax in its early years was accordingly an important military and naval base for the British forces. As early as 1752 a local newspaper, The Halifax Gazette, was printed, the first newspaper to be printed in Canada, and only the third to be printed in North America. A measure of peace came to Nova Scotia in 1761, but life in this isolated frontier region was often a struggle for settlers due to the inhospitable environment and the long, harsh winters. The North British Society, also known as 'The Scots' and 'The Scots Club', was founded along the lines of the other Scottish societies in the American colonies. It was a national and patriotic association whose main objectives were to provide help to Scottish emigrants, to give financial and material assistance to those in distress, to maintain a patriotic, i.e. pro-British, sentiment among the Scottish emigre community, and to foster links between other similar societies elsewhere in North America. It also later helped to fund the passage home for Scots who wished to return to their homeland but could not afford to do so. A constitution was drawn up in 1768 and revised in 1786. In 1791, as the Society continued to grow in size and importance, a further revision was deemed necessary and a committee was appointed to improve the bye-laws. The result was captured in print in this small pamphlet, which was presumably distributed to all the members of the Society. The printer was the Boston-born John Howe (1754-1835), who had moved to Halifax during the American War of Independence because of his loyalist sympathies. He would later become the king's printer for Canada. The pamphlet provides some fascinating information about the operation of charitable societies in 18th century North America. It lists the entrance criteria for the Society  all members had to be Scottish or had to have Scottish parents or at least a Scottish father. An entrance fee of not less than four dollars had to be paid, followed by quarterly fees of three shillings. There were three categories of members: ordinary, perpetual and honorary; members who missed four consecutive quarterly meetings without a good excuse lost their membership. In addition to its other charitable functions, funds were made available through the various office holders for the care of sick members and also for the widows of deceased members. At the end is a list of current office bearers and of 100 members who had joined from the foundation of the Society onwards. In 1794, the Society had the honour of hosting Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn, at their annual St. Andrew's Day celebrations. Edward, the fourth son of George III, and father of Queen Victoria, was based in Canada between 1791 and 1800. From 1794 onwards he lived at the Royal Navy's base in Halifax and became a fixture of British North American society. Following on from the success of Halifax Scottish society, the St. Andrew's Society of St. John, New Brunswick, was established in 1798. However, other Scottish ethnic associations only emerged in Canada during the early 19th century, with the creation of major urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, all of which had St. Andrew's Societies by the 1840s. The North British Society in Halifax continues to this day; NLS has a few publications from the 19th and 20th centuries relating to its commemoration of Scotland and Scottish figures such as Burns and Scott in its collections. There is no recorded copy of this pamphlet in major North American or British libraries. This copy survives in its original marbled paper wrappers; on the front free endpaper is an inscription "Allan" in an 18th-century hand, which could imply that the former owner was relative or descendant of William Allan, one of the members listed at the back of the pamphlet. William Allan may be identified with Major William Allan (1720-1790), a Scottish officer in the British Army who was one of the original settlers of Halifax. He lived there for 10 years before relocating to Fort Lawrence in Nova Scotia, where he worked as a farmer and merchant.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2881
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/11/13
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleElena Duglas ili Deva Ozera Lok-Katrinskago [Lady of the lake]
ImprintMoscow: V Universitetskoi Tipografii
Date of Publication1828
LanguageRussian
NotesThis is an early Russian translation of Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem 'The Lady of the lake', first published in English in 1810. The poem was an immediate and huge success, selling 25,000 copies in 8 months, and helped spread Scott's fame beyond English-speaking lands. He became probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century, the first Russian translation of his works, some extracts from 'Ivanhoe', appeared as early as 1820. His influence can be seen not only in the development of the Russian historical novel, but also in the vogue for wearing tartan and dressing up as characters from his novels. This translation (the name of the translator is unknown) is in turn taken from a French translation, possibly the 1813 translation by Elisabeth de Bon.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2878
Acquired on04/10/13
AuthorBurns, Robert
TitlePoems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect.
ImprintEdinburgh : Printed for A. Constable & Co.
Date of Publication1807
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis early 19th-century edition of Burns's "Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect" was published in 1807 and was printed by Francis Ray of Dundee. It resembles closely, up to p. 228, the edition printed in the same year by Abernethy & Walker for booksellers in Stirling and Glasgow. However, there is a different type-setting of the words "Scottish dialect" on the title page, and minor changes elsewhere in the use of font, as well as the correct spelling of "idiot" on p. iii. It also includes 'Miscellaneous poems' from pp. 229-251, which are popular poems in Scots not by Burns: Shepherd Lubin, The farmer's ingle, Rab and Ringan, The loss o' the pack, Marg'ret and the minister, The twa cats. The glossary of Scots words follows these miscellaneous words and is not separately paginated, as in the Abernethy & Walker printing. This copy has an interesting provenance. It belonged to the Stark family of Cupar as can be seen by the inscription of James F. Stark, dated 1854, on the front pastedown. There is also a blue library label numbered '32'. James Stark was a writer/solicitor in Cupar who became procurator fiscal in the town. However, the book was clearly in the family from an earlier date. On the rear pastedown there is a crude drawing of houses (in Cupar?) and inscriptions by Jn. Stark (John Stark), and on the endpaper an inscription in Latin: Hic liber pertinet ad me Ioannem [?] Stark ut praemium [?] virtutis Doctore Jacobi Clark (this book belongs to me John Stark as a reward of good behaviour, [given] by Dr James Clark). John Stark would appear to have been a pupil of Dr James Clarke/Clark, the rector of Cupar grammar school from 1802 onwards. Clarke was a friend and correspondent of Robert Burns. He was working at Moffat grammar school when, in 1791, he fell out with the parents of some of the pupils. They, along with the Earl of Hopetoun, the local landowner, tried to get him sacked for cruelty to the children. Burns took on it himself to defend Clarke, writing to his friend Alexander Cunningham in June 1791 asking him to join the cause, which would also be joined by Robert Riddell of Glenriddell and Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch. Burns refers to Clarke as a "man of genius and sensibility" who was being persecuted for alleged "harshness to some perverse dunces". Burns's help extended to drafting a letter for Clarke to send to Sir James Stirling, one of the school's trustees, protesting his innocence, and another letter later that year which was sent to Alexander Williamson, the Earl of Hopetoun's factor. Two letters also survive from Burns to Clarke in early 1792, asking him to hold his nerve and assuring him of his unwavering support. Clarke travelled to Edinburgh in February 1792 to clear his name. Burns had drafted a letter for him to send to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, one of the patrons of the school, requesting a fair hearing of his case. Clarke was successful in defending himself and remained at Moffat until 1794, when he moved to a school in Forfar, before going on to Cupar. Burns also lent money to Clarke during the crisis of 1791/92, even though he had enough financial problems of his own. The schoolmaster was still paying back his debt in instalments at the time of Burns's death in July, 1796. The poet wrote one last plaintive letter to Clarke in June 1796, acknowledging receipt of the latest repayment and asking for another to be sent by return of post. By this stage Burns was aware that he was dying, and noted that his old friend would not recognise the "emaciated figure" writing to him and that it was highly improbable that they would see each other again.
ShelfmarkAB.1.213.202
Reference Sources"The complete letters of Robert Burns" ed. J. Mackay, Alloway, 1987; bookseller's notes
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorAlexander Brand
TitleA true collection of poems on the several birth-days of His Majesty King George
Imprint[Edinburgh? s.n.]
Date of Publication[1727]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis small collection of seven poems in honour of the Hanoverian royal family was written by a now obscure Scottish knight, Sir Alexander Brand of Brandfield (Brandsfield). Only two other copies of this printing are recorded - at the British Library and the Bodleian. It is likely that this printing was done in Edinburgh, possibly for private circulation; a London reissue of the same year is also recorded in ESTC as now being held at Yale University. These particular poems, written between 1724 and 1727, are gushing in their praise of the King and his son and daughter, as one would expect from hagiographic poems of the period, but they are of absolutely no literary merit. The text of one of them, to the Princess of Wales, was reproduced in the St. James's Evening Post of 1725, and then in the Caledonian Mercury. The Caledonian Mercury reveals that Brand had presented the poem in person at court as part of his efforts to be recompensed for his loyalty to the British Crown. He had served in the Edinburgh militia during the 'Glorious revolution' of 1688 and had imported arms and provisions to Scotland for government troops, but had never been reimbursed, due, according to him, to the actions of unnamed enemies. Of particular interest is a later poem dedicated to the princess of Wales, 'Verses to her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, on her birth-day, March 1. 1725-26', in which Brand seems less concerned about praising the princess than including random details of his personal life and settling scores against his enemies. He begins it with the lines: "Brand, the oldest bard in life, Marry'd fifty years t' a wife", before revealing some eccentric and grandiose schemes. In the poem he proposes to fund the cutting of a canal between Leith and Holyrood House, "Twice as long and broad's the Mall". In a footnote he claims that the canal and the erection of statues of the King and Prince William of Orange would be there "to convince the world of his great loyalty, and that he is no bankrupt". Brand seems over-eager to prove his financial solvency; although a landowner in the Edinburgh area (Brandfield Street in the Fountainbridge Area of Edinburgh is presumably named after him) and a businessman involved in schemes for improving trade and manufacturing gilt leather, in his dedication to the Princess of Wales at the front of the book he refers to being "oppressed with years infirmities and disasters". Quite how he would have financed a canal from Leith to Holyrood is open to question. He also offers to help in the field of international politics, referring to Empress Catherine I of Russia, then sole ruler of Imperial Russia, "Or if she shou'd be mistaken , I'd tell her how to save her bacon". His ambitious plans and perhaps his ardent anti-Jacobite feelings seem to have made him a controversial figure in his homeland. In another footnote to the same poem he says he has "designs to buy land in England or Hanover, being determin'd not to live among Scotch Justices of the Peace & who have insulted him in coffee-houses", regarding a trial he was currently involved in. His plans for a canal in Edinburgh and his general character were satirised in an anonymous pamphlet published in London in 1725 "A letter from a gentleman in White's Chocolate-House, to his friend at the Smyrna Coffee-House". Moreover, Brand's sudden switch of loyalties in 1688 to Prince William, having loyally served both Charles II and James VII/II (as sheriff of Edinburgh he had supervised the execution of the Earl of Argyll in 1685) seems to have rendered him suspect to fellow Scotsmen, including Gilbert Burnet. Brand does not appear to have ever got the financial rewards he was seeking. The Caledonian Mercury in October 1729 advertises, on behalf of creditors, the sale of the lands of "Dalray (alias Brandsfield)" (i.e. Dalry), presumably after the death of Sir Alexander. This particular copy of Brand's poems is notable for having the title page misbound after leaf [A2], and for having an extra leaf bound into it which contains a 44-line poem in praise of the second Duke of Argyll (1648-1743). Argyll had commanded government troops in Scotland during the 1715 Jacobite uprising and, according to Brand, tamed the Highlands and forced the clans to "give up dispotick power". The leaf is on paper with a different watermark to the rest of the book and is possibly a later inclusion.
ShelfmarkAP.4.213.11
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorLloyd Osbourne [et al.]
TitleA letter to Mr. Stevenson's friends.
Imprint[Apia, Samoa: For private circulation]
Date of Publication1894
LanguageEnglish
NotesShortly after Robert Louis Stevenson's death in Samoa in December in 1894, his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, organised the printing of this small pamphlet in honour of the late author. The printing was done in the town of Apia, at the office of the local newspaper, "The Samoa times". The pamphlet gives accounts of Stevenson's life on Samoa, his death and funeral, and includes items written by Osbourne, Bazett M. Haggard (the British Special Commissioner in Samoa and brother of author Henry Rider Haggard), James H. Mulligan, A.W. Mackay, and William E. Clarke. It also includes Edmund Gosse's poem "To Tusitala in Vailima", which reached Stevenson three days before his death; at the end are some verses in Samoan. The pamphlet was then sent out to various friends and acquaintances. This particular copy was sent to the Edinburgh-based advocate and writer Sir John Skelton (1831-1897). It also has the envelope in which the book was posted to Skelton from Apia, complete with Samoan stamp, and with "via San Francisco" written on it. The address is in the hand of Margaret Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson's mother, who was part of his extended household at the time of his death.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2870
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on13/09/13
AuthorShelley, Percy Bysshe
TitleAdonais
ImprintPisa: printed with the types of Didot
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is the rare first printing of Percy Bysshe Shelley's elegy on the death of fellow-poet John Keats. In 1818 Shelley (1792-1822) had moved to Italy due to his growing financial and health problems; he was never to return to England. During these final four years of his life he wrote some of finest poetry, despite enduring a series of personal tragedies. In February 1821 Keats had died in Rome of tuberculosis; Shelley subscribed to the view that the final stage of Keats's fatal illness had been brought on by a bad review of 'Endymion' in the "Quarterly Review" in 1818. He resolved to a write an elegy on Keats which would defend the dead man's reputation and emphasise the significance of poets and poetry in society. On June 8 1821 Shelley wrote to his London publisher, Charles Ollier, asking him to announce for publication a new poem, which was "a lament on the death of poor Keats, with some interposed stabs on the assassins of his peace and his fame". The poet decided in the end to have the poem printed locally in Pisa, rather than send a manuscript copy to London. Printing the work in Pisa meant that he could personally supervise the printing to ensure that there were no errors in the text, and also prevent any of the "interposed stabs" from being censored. A slim quarto of the 55-stanza poem was produced, Shelley sending a copy to the poet John Gisborne on 13 July. Other copies were sent to Charles Ollier to be distributed. Ollier offered them for sale at the modest price of 3s 6d but decided not to republish the work, making the Pisa printing one of the scarcest and most highly sought after original editions of Shelley's works. Ollier's reluctance to have the poem printed is no doubt due to his strained relations with Shelley. Between 1820 and his death in July 1822 Shelley frequently complained in his correspondence that Ollier was ignoring his many requests and commissions, including his request for a reprint of 'Adonais', which he himself regarded as "the least imperfect of my compositions". In this case Ollier probably had no wish to become embroiled in Shelley's attack on the "Quarterly Review", which he knew would be met with derision by most of the London critics. In the preface to 'Adonais', Shelley stresses his credentials as an impartial judge of Keats's work, noting that his "repugnance" for some of the latter's earlier compositions was well known. However, he pulls no punches in his attack on John Wilson Croker, the reviewer of 'Endymion'; whilst Croker is not named in the preface, he is referred to as "Miserable man! you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the workmanship of God". The text of 'Adonais' was reprinted in "The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review" of December 1 1821 but a separate edition was not reprinted in England until 1829 in Cambridge. A further separate edition was printed for private circulation in London in 1876. This particular copy of the first Pisa printing is from the library of Sir John Skelton (1831-1897), a Scottish author, literary critic and advocate. It was bequeathed to the Library (along with first editions of Shelley's 'Rosalind and Helen' and 'Epipsychidion') by his descendant Miss Margaret Penelope Skelton (1924-2011). It is bound in a 19th-century calf binding for the booksellers Edmonston & Douglas of Edinburgh. Of particular interest is a letter to Sir John Skelton pinned to the front free endpaper; it is from the poet and fellow literary reviewer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). The letter, dated March 10 1894, is not concerned with 'Adonais' but primarily with the 16th-century French poet and admirer of Mary Queen of Scots, Pierre de Bocosel de Chastelard. Swinburne had written plays about both Mary and Chastelard, while Skelton had published the year before "Mary Stuart", a biography defending the queen's conduct. As a postscript Swinburne notes that he has forgotten to reply to a question of Skelton's about Shelley and provides references to two articles by him on Shelley.
ShelfmarkRB.m.751
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography; "Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelly, edited with a bibliographical introduction by Thomas J. Wise" 2nd ed. (London: Shelley Society, 1886)
Acquired on13/09/13
Important Acquisitions - page no. 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12     13     14     15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     27     28     29     30     31     32     33     34     35     36     37     38     39     40     41     42     43     44     45     46     47     48     49     50     51