Important acquisitions

A true collection of poems on the several birth-days of His Majesty King George

Author Alexander Brand
Title A true collection of poems on the several birth-days of His Majesty King George
Imprint [Edinburgh? s.n.]
Date of Publication [1727]
Language English
Notes This 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.
Shelfmark AP.4.213.11
Reference Sources Bookseller's notes
Acquired on 13/09/13
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