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 751 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.

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Important Acquisitions 76 to 90 of 751:

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AuthorDavid Hume
TitleEsposizione della contestazione insorta fra il Signor Davide Hume e il Signor Gian Jacopo Russo.
Imprint[Venice] : Appresso Luigi Pavini,
Date of Publication1767
LanguageItalian
NotesThe quarrel between the two 18th-century philosophers, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is one of the famous incidents in the history of Enlightenment Europe. In 1763 Hume had gone to Paris as under-secretary to the newly appointed British ambassador, Lord Hertford. He quickly became a celebrity in the French capital, moving in court circles and among the literary salons. In 1765 he offered to find a home in England for Rousseau, as the latter found himself persecuted in France and his native Switzerland for his radical views. The two men met for the first time in December 1765, and Rousseau accompanied Hume on his journey home to England. Initially both philosophers were full of admiration for each other, but once in England the relationship quickly soured, despite Hume's efforts to secure him a royal pension and suitable residence. At their final meeting in March 1766, the notoriously belligerent Rousseau accused Hume of conspiring against him. In June he wrote to Hume, accusing the Scot of bringing him to England to dishonour him. Hume, sensing that Rousseau would try to destroy his reputation in France, fought back angrily in a war of words. He then collected his correspondence with Rousseau, had copies made, and sent one set over to Paris, where in October that year was published, the "Expose succinct de la contestation qui s'est elevee entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau". An English version appeared the following month, and this very rare Italian translation, by an unknown translator, appeared the following year. Baron von Grimm, a German man of letters based in France, famously remarked 'A declaration of war between two great European powers couldn't have made more noise than this quarrel'. Hume was later to regret publication of the work, as public opinion was largely on the side of Rousseau, who returned to France in 1767.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2842
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on29/06/12
AuthorAnon.
TitleObservations on illicit distillation and smuggling: with some remarks on the reports of Woodbine Parish Esq. chairman of the excise board, on that subject.
ImprintEdinburgh: David Willison
Date of Publication1816
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a rare pamphlet, with only two other copies located in major libaries in the UK and USA. The anonymous author is almost certainly a Scot, who takes issue here with Woodbine Parish (1768-1848), a London merchant who served as chairman of the board of excise for Scotland, 181523. The author criticises Parish's report on distillation and smuggling, in particular the remarks on the Scots' propensity for drunkenness and the belief that the increase in illegal distilling had nothing to with the increase in alcohol duty. The author in this pamphlet provides a good snapshot of Scottish drinking practices and smuggling activities of the period. For the author, the poorly-framed laws made in Westminster, which ignore the social and economic realities of life of Scotland, are the main reasons for the increase in illegal distillation and smuggling.
ShelfmarkAB.2.213.22
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes
Acquired on22/06/12
AuthorGeorge Combe
TitleFour views of the skull of Robert Burns : taken from a cast moulded at Dumfries, the 31st day of March 1834.
ImprintEdinburgh : W. & A.K. Johnston
Date of Publication1834
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare pamphlet, only one other copy is recorded, bears witness to the extraordinary hold that the pseudo-science of phrenology had on popular and medical opinion in the first half of the 19th-century. On 26 March 1834 Robert Burns's widow, Jean Armour died, her funeral on 1 April attracting, according to the Dumfries Courier, an "immense crowd of spectators". Her body was interred in the family mausoleum in St Michael's churchyard, Dumfries, which had been built in 1815 after a public subscription had produced sufficient funds for its construction. The opening of the family mausoleum to accommodate her coffin also finally enabled phrenologists and the merely curious to gain access to the prize specimen of the poet's skull. Their hopes of doing so in September 1815, when Burns's body had been exhumed from its modest resting place and moved to the impressive Grecian-style construction at the other end of the cemetery, had been thwarted. The moving of the body had been done privately, before sunrise, to attract as little attention as possible from the public, so only those carrying out the move had had the privilege of seeing Burns's corpse. In 1834, however, the phrenologists were not to be denied. Having obtained consent from surviving members of the Burns family, the night before Mrs Burns's funeral a party of men, including John McDiarmid, editor of The Dumfries Courier, the surgeon, Archibald Blacklock, and James Bogie, who had assisted in the move of the poet's coffin in 1815, entered the mausoleum. The skull was located, cleaned and a plaster cast taken. It was deemed to be of an extraordinary size as none of the hats of those present fitted over it. The skull was then placed in a lead casket and replaced where it had been found. With a suitably melodramatic flourish The Caledonian Mercury's account of the exhumation of the skull, abridged from the Dumfries Courier, records that at the end of their work, just as the men were about to go their separate ways, the clock struck one. The existence of a plaster cast of Burns's skull gave the phrenologists, who had previously had to make do with an imaginary cast based on a portrait of the poet, all the material they needed to formulate theories on Burns's character. This particular pamphlet contains remarks by the leading British phrenologist of the time, Edinburgh lawyer George Combe (1788-1858), whose manuscripts and collection of phrenology books are now held in NLS. Combe's observations on Burns's character and cerebral development also appeared in The Phrenological Journal in September 1834, but this appears to have been a separately published pamphlet, illustrated with engravings taken from drawings of four views of the skull done by the Scottish artist George Harvey (1806-1876). Combe argues that Burns's skull "indicates the combination of strong animal passions, with equally powerful moral emotions" and that "Burns must have walked the earth with a consciousness of great superiority over his associates in the station in which he was placed". Combe's conclusions are tinged with class superiority and presumably influenced by the popular view of the poet as a man with a weakness for alcohol. He regrets that circumstances conspired to prevent Burns, the farmer, flax-dresser and excise man, entering the "higher ranks of life", and that his lowly birth denied him a liberal education and the chance to be employed in pursuits "corresponding to his powers" so that "the inferior portion of his nature would have lost part of its energy".
ShelfmarkAP.3.213.08
Acquired on01/06/12
AuthorOrcadensis
TitleOrcadensis to William Cobbett, M.P. on the political grievances of Orkney and Zetland.
ImprintEdinburgh : John Hamilton,
Date of Publication1833
LanguageEnglish
NotesWritten in the form of a letter to the radical English writer and politician William Cobbett, this very rare pamphlet makes an impassioned plea for separate representation for Orkney and Zetland (Shetland) in the UK parliament. The author, presumably an inhabitant of Orkney (Orcadensis), believes that the Scottish Reform Act of 1832, which had redefined constituencies and greatly widened the franchise in Scotland, is an "ill digested measure". Writing shortly after the recent election of 1833, Orcadensis argues that Orkney and Shetland have major economic and cultural differences, the former being agricultural in nature, the latter being commercial, with little trade or communication occurring between them. The author's arguments do not appear to have had any effect; 170 years later Orkney and Shetland remains a single constituency, its boundaries now uniquely protected by the Scotland Act of 1998. Orcadensis's choice of Cobbett as the addressee of his letter is not just a recognition of Cobbett's leading role in securing parliamentary reform in 1832, but also a conscious copying of the latters epistolary style of writing his "rural rides" - his reports of his extensive travels in southern England. In 1833, moreover, Cobbett was very much in the news in Scotland; he made his one and only visit to the country, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paisley and New Lanark amongst other places. After a lifetime spent denigrating Scotland and Scots, in particular what he felt was the undue influence of Scottish politicians and "feelosofers" in post-Union Great Britain, Cobbett struck a much more conciliatory tone when in the country itself, and also in his "Tour of Scotland" published that year. As for Orcadensis, he concludes his pamphlet by stating his next letter will contain a plan for "vigorous reform" of the Scottish Church, a letter which does not appear to have been published.
ShelfmarkAP.2.213.04
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorWilliam Bruce
TitleEpistola Gulielmi Brussii Scoti. Ad illustrem D. Johannen Gostomium.
ImprintGoerlitz, s.n.
Date of Publication1596
LanguageLatin
NotesBy the end of the 16th-century there was a large number of Scottish emigrants living in Poland and lands adjoining the Baltic Sea. One of the most prominent was the Scottish Catholic William Bruce. Born in Stanstill in Caithness around 1560 and educated in France, William Bruce worked in universities there before moving to Rome and then on to German city of Wuerzburg to take up the Chair of Law. Bruce's academic career was interrupted by a spell serving as a mercenary soldier when he joined the military campaign against the Ottoman Empire on the Slovak-Hungarian front. In 1595 he arrived in Poland and shortly afterwards he accepted the Polish Chancellor Zamoyski's offer of teaching Roman law at his recently inaugurated Humanist academy in Zamosc. During this time he had printed at least three pamphlets, including this one dated Torun, 12 February, attacking the Turks and stressing their threat to the Christian kingdoms of eastern and central Europe - the other two works are: "Ad principes populorum Christianum, de bello adversus Turcos gerendo" (Leipzig 1595) and "De Tartaris diarium" (Frankfurt, 1598). After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, Bruce would became James VI/I's royal agent to Poland, securing trade links between Britain and Poland and protecting the rights of Scottish and English settler in Poland and Prussia.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2843
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. J.K. Fedorowicz, England's Baltic trade in the early seventeenth century, (Cambridge, 1980).
Acquired on25/05/12
AuthorScott, Walter
TitleIvanhoe: romanja.
ImprintPesten [Budapest] : Otto Wigand
Date of Publication1829
LanguageHungarian
NotesThe Library has in recent years acquired a number of early translations of the works of Sir Walter Scott printed in eastern Europe. This a rare Hungarian translation of Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe", only two other copies are recorded in the UK. It was the only Scott novel translated into Hungarian in the first half of the 19th century. It was translated by the poet and patriot Andras Thaisz (1789-1840, described by Sir John Bowring is his "The poetry of the Magyars" (London, 1830) as 'the translator of the Scottish Romances'.
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.28-30
Acquired on18/05/12
AuthorBuerger, Gottfried August.
TitleEllenore, a ballad originally written in German by G.A. Buerger.
ImprintPrinted in Norwich by John March.
Date of Publication1796
NotesThis an unrecorded folio, large-paper, printing of a translation of a German poem that would help launch one of the great Scottish literary careers. The short poem "Lenore", written by Gottfried August Bürger, was originally published in German in 1774. It is a Gothic ballad dealing with the return of a young man, William, presumed killed in battle, to his grief-stricken fiancee, Lenore, in the middle of night. William asks Lenore to accompany him to their bridal bed. After riding at breakneck speed through the night, they reach a cemetery where the bridal bed is revealed to be William's grave and he himself has mutated into the figure of Death, the grim reaper. Lenore meets her end surrounded by the ghosts of the dead who tell her not to quarrel with her fate and to hope for forgiveness. "Lenore" was an instant hit and was hugely influential on the European Romantic movement in literature. The first English translation to appear in print was this one by William Taylor of Norwich. Taylor (1765-1836) was an important propagandist of German literature in the romantic period. He began his literary career in 1789 with an accomplished translation of Goethe's "Iphigenie auf Tauris" (published in 1793), then in 1790 he translated Lessing's "Nathan der Weise". His translation of Bürger's "Lenore" was first published in 1796 in The Monthly Magazine, then was printed separately by John March of Norwich. Taylor's free translation was actually done in 1790 and had been circulating widely in manuscript in literary circles since then. It was commonly regarded as the best translation at that time, and is important as having inspired Walter Scott to do his own translation, the starting point of Scott's whole poetical career (a copy of this Norwich 1796 printing can be found in Scott's library at Abbotsford). In 1795 Scott had heard about the enthusiastic reception given to a reading of Taylor's version done by Anna Laetitia Aikin at a party given by Dugald Stewart, and he subsequently attempted to acquire a manuscript of Bürger's original. When he finally acquired a German text the following year he immediately set about the task of translating it; 'He began the task ... after supper, and did not retire to bed until he had finished it, having by that time worked himself into a state of excitement which set sleep at defiance' (Lockhart, Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott, 1.235). Scott was sufficiently pleased with the reaction of his friends that he proceeded to translate another Bürger poem, "Der wilde Jäger", and the two were published together anonymously as "The Chase and William and Helen: Two Ballads from the German of Gottfried Augustus Bürger" in November 1796, priced 3s. 6d. The "German-mad" Scott's literary career had begun.
ShelfmarkAB.10.212.45
Reference SourcesOxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on18/05/12
AuthorColborn Barrel [et al.]
TitleA poem to the memory of Mr. Robert Sandeman.
Imprint[Aberdeen?: s.n.]
Date of Publication1771?
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is a very rare collection of poems celebrating the life of Robert Sandeman (1718-1771), the Scottish promoter of the Glasite sect, and author of the controversial theological work "Letters on Theron and Aspasio" (Edinburgh, 1757). After being active in his local city of Perth then in Edinburgh, Sandeman was invited to New England by Congregational ministers based there, and he sailed from Glasgow to Boston in August 1764. The success of his American mission was limited by his loyalty to Britain in the unsettled years leading up to the American Declaration of Independence. Moreover, his theology was not always regarded highly by American theologians, and in 1770 he was brought to trial by the Connecticut authorities. He died at Danbury, in this state, in the following year and was buried there. The poems in this pamphlet seem to have been printed shortly after his death, possibly in Aberdeen, as the only other two known copies of this work are held in Aberdeen University library. Throughout the first poem, "A poem to the memory of Mr. Robert Sandeman" which is anonymous, Sandeman is addressed as Palaemon, the pseudonym taken from the name of a famous Roman grammarian, and used by him in "Theron and Aspasio". This long poem of twelve pages is followed by a series of five elegies under the general title of "Elegies on Mr. Robert Sandeman": the first is by Colborn Barrel, and the others are signed by (in turn) Alford Butler, Archibald Rutherford, Robert Boswell and David Mitchelson. The fourth elegy (ending on p. 20) concludes with 'Finis', so the final two leaves containing the elegy by Mitchelson could be a later addition, as they are missing in one of the Aberdeen University library copies. Three of the elegy writers can be identified as being based in New England at the time. Colborn Barrel was a merchant in New Hampshire, who was recorded as having preached at a Sandemanian service in 1770. Alford Butler (1735-1828) was probably a bookseller and binder based in Boston and then Portsmouth, N.H. Unlike Barrell, who had expressed his dislike of British rule, he was a loyalist and because of his opposition to American independence he may have lived in Canada for a few years. David Mitchelson was, like Alford Butler, involved in the Boston book trade. Mitchelson is known to have been a Sandemanian, and is supposed to have worked for John Mein (a Scots emigre with connections to the Sandeman family), who was at this time publisher of the "Boston Chronicle". The other two contributors probably did not come from America. Robert Boswell (1746-1804) was almost certainly a cousin of the biographer James Boswell, Robert being the son of James Boswell, Lord Auchinlecks younger brother. Like his father, Robert was an adherent of the Glasite sect in Scotland and argued with James about it in 1777 - as recorded by Boswell in his journal entry for 10 April for that year ("Boswell in Extremes 1776-1778", ed. Pottle and Weis). Robert became very close to the Glasites by marrying into the Sandeman family: his wife was the niece of Robert Sandeman. Archibald Rutherford has not been identified; he may have been based in Scotland although there are records of aman of that name who lived in Virginia and whose dates are said to have been 1732-1830.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2856
Reference SourcesBookseller's notes. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on11/05/12
AuthorNathaniel Crouch
TitleThe Triumphs of Love
ImprintGlasgow : Printed by William Duncan,
Date of Publication1753
LanguageEnglish
NotesA work adapted by Crouch, writing under his Robert Burton pseudonym, from an unidentified work by a P. Camus. The book is a collection of short stories "Containing the surprizing adventures, and accidents and misfortunes, that many persons have encountred [sic] in the eager pursuit of their amorous inclinations. In fifteen pleasant relations, or histories. For the recreation of gentlemen, ladies and others, who are pleased with such innocent diversions and amusements". The front pastedown bears the die-sinker bookplate of Frederic Perkins, Chipstead Place, Kent. This edition is unrecorded in ESTC.
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.44
Acquired on11/05/12
AuthorEdmond Hoyle
TitleHoyle's game of whist.
ImprintDundee: Printed for Ostell, London [et al.]
Date of Publication1806
LanguageEnglish
NotesEdmond Hoyle (1679-1769) was the first English writer on the rules and strategy of popular games. He is best known for his works on card games, but he also published works on subjects such as backgammon and chess, as well as a book about probability. In 1742 his "A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist" came out, a book which became the definitive book on whist until the second half of the 19th century. Hoyle's work was reprinted several times in the 18th century, and was often pirated. This miniature version (78 mm high) was printed in Dundee in 1806 by W. Chambers for publishers in London, Edinburgh and Perth. Much of the text is derived from Hoyle's original "A Short Treatise", but with some additions - the title page proclaims it contains all the improvements of modern writers and the best players. Only five copies of this edition have been recorded by Hoyle scholar and collector David Levy in his blog; this copy is in its original blue paper wrappers with "Hoyle" stamped on the front cover. Although slightly above the 3-inch limit for a regulation miniature book, this must be one of the earliest surviving examples of a miniature book printed in Scotland for an adult readership. With its very small type and lack of illustrations it would certainly have been portable but also challenging to use.
ShelfmarkRB.s.2850
Reference SourcesDavid Levy blog: http://edmondhoyle.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/scottish-hoyles-part-2.html
Acquired on04/05/12
AuthorTacitus
Title[Works ed. Franciscus Puteolanus]
Imprint[Milan: Antonius Zarotus]
Date of Publication1487
LanguageLatin
NotesThis is the second collected edition of the works of the Roman historian Tacitus (AD 56-AD117) containing the 'Annals', and 'Histories', the 'Germania', and the first printing of the 'Agricola'. The text was edited by the famous Italian Renaissance scholar Francesco Dal Pozzo (Franciscus Puteolanus) (d. 1490), who was professor of rhetoric and poetry at the University of Bologna. Dal Pozzo edited the texts of several classical authors for publication and his edition of Tacitus was praised by later editors for its textual emendations. This copy of the book has a notable provenance: it is from the library of the Scottish patriot Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1655-1716), with his distinctive "Fletcher" signature on the final blank leaf and on the rear paste-down. The 'Agricola' is Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law, the Roman general and governor of Britain who extended Roman occupation northwards into Scotland. The introductory chapters of the 'Agricola' include an account of Britain and its tribes, its geography (Tacitus is rather vague, but for the first time it was possible to state with confidence that Britain was indeed an island); there is even a mention of the "objectionable climate with its frequent rains and mists". It contains the first substantial historical account of events in what is now Scotland, in particular the first printing of the first published account of a battle on Scottish soil (Mons Graupius). After conquering what is now Wales in AD 77, Agricola advanced northwards and overran the lowlands of what is now Scotland. In his seventh campaign, in AD 83, Agricola faced a pitched battle against the Highlanders at "mons Graupius" (the precise location is uncertain, antiquaries, historians and archaeologists have been searching for the battlefield for centuries). The Britons had, according to Tacitus, rallied more than 30,000 men from all their states in an determined attempt to defeat the powerful invaders. Despite their superior numbers the Britons were soon put to flight, breaking formation "into small groups to reach their far and trackless retreats. Only night and exhaustion ended the pursuit". The Roman victory was total but the campaigning season was almost over so Agricola moved his army to their winter quarters. The next year he was recalled to Rome, thus ending Roman military campaigns in northern Scotland. It is not surprising that a well-educated member of the Scottish aristocracy, who quotes widely from ancient historians in his own political writings, would have owned a text of Tacitus. However, Tactitus' works appear to have been particularly important for Fletcher - he also owned fifteen later editions, presumably because of the 'Agricola' and its coverage of Scotland. From the early 1670s onwards, Fletcher built up a huge library of c. 5,500-6000 books, thanks to his regular travels on the continent, where he hunted for bargains and rarities in bookshops. His collection included some 20 incunables, including this edition of Tacitus. The books were kept in the family home of Saltoun Hall in East Lothian and the library appears to have survived intact until the 1940s when a few of the more valuable items in the library appeared on the London market. The rest of the library was sold off in the 1960s. The family archive was deposited in NLS (now MSS.16501-17900) in 1957 and it includes Fletcher's MS catalogues of the collection, MS 17863-17864), where this particular copy is listed.
ShelfmarkInc.221
Reference SourcesP. J. Willems, "Bibliotheca Fletcheriana, or the extraordinary Library of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, reconstructed and systematically arranged" (Wassenaar, 1999)
Acquired on30/04/12
Author[Anon]
TitleAccount of a most melancholy and dreadful accident! Loss of the Comet steam-boat. 70 persons drowned.
Imprint[London] : Printed for J. Catnach,
Date of Publication[1825]
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis broadside ballad combines a prose account of a maritime disaster with a poem commemorating the event, it also contains an appropriately melodramatic woodcut illustration of the sinking of the steam boat Comet. The Comet was the second steam boat owned by Henry Bell of Helensburgh to bear this name, the original Comet paddle steamer having been used in the first commercially successful steam boat service from 1812 onwards. When the original Comet was shipwrecked in 1820, Comet II took over the service, operating routes on the River Clyde and the west of Scotland. On 21 October 1825 she collided with the steamer Ayr off Kempock Point, near Gourock, and sank with the loss of 62 of the 80 passengers. News of the disaster was spread not only by the newspapers but also by contemporary street literature, namely the popular ballads printed in major British cities. The printer/publisher of this broadside was James "Jemmy" Catnach, the most prolific producer of street literature in London, who was based in the Seven Dials area, the centre of street ballad publishing at the time. Catnach, the son of a Scottish printer, employed a number of hack balladeers to compose poems relating to disasters such as these. In contrast to the rather sober prose account (which states incorrectly that 70 people had died) the author of the ballad wastes no opportunity in wringing out every last drop of pathos from the sinking; from a newly-married couple dying in each other's arms and small children being parted from the desperate grasp of their mothers, the awfulness of the event is conveyed to a public eager for the latest sensation.
ShelfmarkAP.el.212.01
Acquired on23/03/12
AuthorAinslie, William.
TitleSixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.
Imprint[Fort Beaufort, South Africa]: Fort Beaufort Printing and Publishing Company
Date of Publication1899
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis rare book, crudely printed in the small South African town of Fort Beaufort, documents the experiences of a Scottish emigrant to South Africa. William Ainslie was born c. 1820 in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. His father worked there as a brewer and bookbinder. In 1833 the Ainslie family decided to move to South Africa, on the advice of William's famous uncle Thomas Pringle, who had lived there in the 1820s. Pringle (1789-1834) was a writer and campaigner for abolition of slavery, who became known as the father of South African Poetry, being the first successful English language poet and author to describe South Africa. The Ainslie family eventually purchased a farm in what was then called Kaffraria, the southeast part of what is today the Eastern Cape Province. They inevitably got caught up in the conflicts between European settlers and the native Xhosa people (referred to in the book as 'Kaffirs'). From the late 18th century onwards a series of armed conflicts between the Xhosa, British army and settlers had taken place as more and more settlers encroached on Xhosa lands. In the preface to the book, written by one A. Hanesworth, it is stated that: "No savage people has given Great Britain so much trouble in open fight and secret foray as the Coloured races of Kaffraria". When William Ainslie acquired his own farm, he became a 'burgher' who was obliged to arm himself to defend his property and also to assist the army and the other settlers. As such he was participant in what is now termed the 8th Xhosa War of 1850-53, which he describes at length. In 1859 Ainslie settled in the Fort Beaufort area, where he continued to farm as well as making a brief foray into diamond mining. Ainslie's book documents the struggle of an emigrant to establish himself in an often hostile and unforgiving environment. It was written on the eve of the Boer War and he criticises the Dutch Bond politicians "who are doing everything in their power to cause race-hatred between the Dutch and English".
ShelfmarkAB.1.212.26
Acquired on23/03/12
AuthorLund, John [et al.]
Title[Volume containing 10 18th-century plays]
ImprintLondon, Glasgow, Dublin & Hawick
Date of Publication1760-1787
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis 'sammelband' contains 10 short plays printed in a variety of locations in the British Isles in the second half of the 18th-century. The volume contains a hitherto unrecorded 1786 printing from Hawick of a one act play "Ducks and green pease". The imprint gives no details of printer or publisher but there was only one printer known to be working in Hawick at the time, George Caw, who had started printing there in the 1780s (the first recorded book from his press dating from 1783). "Ducks and green pease", first printed in the 1770s, was the best-known work written by John Lund (1726-1786) from Pontefract in Yorkshire. Lund was a barber, wig maker and political satirist; the mildy subversive content of his play is in contrast to the largely religious works Caw was printing at the time. The volume also has an early Scottish provenance, there are inscriptions on the front pastedown "Andrew Rattray" and "Dundee 1791".
ShelfmarkRB.s.2839(1-10)
Acquired on23/03/12
AuthorLord Byron
TitleEnglish Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.
ImprintLondon: William Benbow,
Date of Publication1821
LanguageEnglish
NotesThis is one of several pirated editions of Byron's famous satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch reviewers" printed in England after 1816, when Byron had left the country, never to return. "English Bards" was first published in 1809 as a riposte from Byron to a stinging review in The Edinburgh Review of his first published volume of poetry "Hours of Idleness". Four official editions of the poem were printed by his publisher Cawthorn, between 1809 and 1811, to meet the large popular demand for it. However, by 1812, after contemplating but rejecting the publication of a fifth edition, Byron decided to remove the poem from circulation. He then decided to switch his patronage to the publisher John Murray, which led to Cawthorn continuing to print "English Bards" in defiance of his instructions, all without payment to the author. In 1816 Byron was granted an injunction preventing Cawthorn from continuing to print the work. The injunction, however, failed to stop piracies by other printers, such as this one by William Benbow, subsequently appearing on the market. Benbow (1784-c. 1852) was a political radical, who had set up in business in London in 1820 as a bookseller and publisher of pornography. During his relatively brief, but eventful, career as a bookseller and publisher, he regularly found himself in trouble with the law due to his relaxed attitude towards the laws of libel and copyright. Between 1821 and 1825 he published piracies of a number of Byron's works, including another printing of "English Bards" in 1823. In 1822 he was prosecuted, unsuccessfully, for a pirated edition of Byron's "Cain". This particular copy of Benbow's 1821 edition, of which only three copies are recorded in COPAC, also contains two MS letters connected with a former owner of it, J. Aitken. One is a letter dated August 1922 by John Murray (IV), the publisher, thanking Aitken for alerting him to the existence of the 1821 Benbow edition, which is not listed Ernest Hartley Coleridge's bibliography of the works of Byron despite Coleridge taking "infinite pains to make that bibliography complete". The other letter, from 1938, is a copy of one sent to the American librarian and bibliographer Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980) at the University of Wisconsin. Aitken writes to Doane having been informed that the latter was preparing a bibliography of Byron (there is no record of a published bibliography by Doane). He gives details of the 1821 edition, pointing out that it has different pagination and contents to the 1823 Benbow edition (which is recorded in Coleridge's bibliography), and offers to send it to Doane to help him with the bibliography. He concludes his copy letter by announcing his intention, ultimately, to present his book to the National Library of Scotland; over 73 years later the book has finally made it to NLS.
ShelfmarkAB.2.212.07
Reference SourcesG. Redgrave, "The first four editions of 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers'" in The Library series 2, v.1 (December 1899), pp. 18-25. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on17/02/12
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