Important acquisitions

[Collection of 13 printed items mainly edited or written by Andrew Duncan the elder].

Author Duncan, Andrew.
Title [Collection of 13 printed items mainly edited or written by Andrew Duncan the elder].
Imprint [Edinburgh: Neill & Co.]
Date of Publication 1801-1810
Language English
Notes This collection of ephemera is mostly connected with a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, the physician Andrew Duncan the elder (1744-1828). Duncan is best known today for two major acts of social medicine in Edinburgh: the founding of a dispensary for the sick poor and a lunatic asylum where inmates were treated humanely. He became president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1790, and in 1808 the freedom of Edinburgh was conferred on him for his services in the foundation of the dispensary and the asylum. Apart from his medical work, Duncan was convivial man with great energy who was a member of and founded many clubs and societies, such as the Aesculapian Club, the Harvein, Gymnastic and Royal Caledonian Horticultural societies. He also had a keen interest in literature and wrote poetry, of indifferent quality to say the least, which was often read out or sung at meetings of these clubs. This collection contains 10 items which can be ascribed to him; nine of them are not in NLS and at least two are unrecorded. There are also two substantial items here: "Poems chiefly in the Scottish dialect" (1809) not by Duncan but by Andrew Stewart, a poet sentenced to death for theft but whose sentence was commuted to transportation on the intervention of Walter Scott; and part of a collection of Scottish verse edited by Duncan "Carminum rariorum macaronicorum delectus" (1801). The collection also contains two elegies written by James Amos and John Wharton for late Edinburgh medical colleagues. The Duncan items mostly relate to the clubs he was was involved in, two of the poems, however, are devoted to Duncan's ascent of Arthur's Seat on a foggy May Day morning in 1807. For half a century, right up until a year before his death, Duncan climbed Arthur's Seat every May Day and sometimes produced a poem to commemorate the event. The items were probably all printed in Edinburgh by the firm of Adam Neill & Son, whose head, Patrick Neill, was a friend of Duncan's and the first secretary of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. The poems, which are bound together, were formerly in the library of Douglas Grant (1921-1969), professor of American literature at the university of Leeds.
Shelfmark RB.s.2811(1-13)
Reference Sources ODNB; J. Chalmers (ed.), "Andrew Duncan Senior: Physician of the Enlightenment" Edinburgh, 2010.
Acquired on 12/11/10
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