The heroic deeds of the Scots. A Poem, in four volumes. From Fergus I. down to the present Time. To which are added, Poems on Several Occasions, at the End of each Volume. By John Carruthers. Volume I [all published]. Dumfries, Robert Jackson, 1796.
First Edition. 12mo, (166 x 100 mm), pp. vii, [i], -84, text fairly browned with some dampstaining, partially uncut, in contemporary sheep backed marbled boards, front joint cracked and delicate, head and tail of spine chipped, boards dusty and worn, extremities rubbed.
A scarce poetical description of the earliest history of Scotland, accompanied by notes. This slim (and very scarce) volume is all that came of an ambitious plan for a four volume work of poetry and scholarship spanning several centuries. Dedicated to George James Hay, Earl of Errol and with a prefatory ‘Address to the Inhabitants of Annandale’, the work opens with a note on the origin of the Scots and a three page introduction in verse. The origins of the nation are further explored in ‘Chapter First’, which ends with the death of the mythical Fergus I. The poem continues with the invasion of the Danes, the death of Kennethus, the battles of Almon and Loncarty and the reign of Malcolm, which take the reader to the beginning of Book IV, accompanied by footnotes throughout. At this point, verse is abandoned and the narrative is ‘continued in Prose, from Fergus I. to Robert Bruce, being the end of the first Volume’ (pp. 55-70). The remaining pages contain verses by and addressed to John Carruthers, on various subjects.
Given the slightness of the volume, the disclaimer in the opening address is rather endearing: ‘I am only sorry that, on account of the book swelling larger than could possibly be afforded at the price, I have been necessitated to leave out the verse, and insert the notes only, from the reign of Macbeth. I shall however make some amends in the next volume, which will be much more concise, having only to treat of nine Kings reigns, down to James the Sixth’. In a final note at the end of the text, Carruthers addds ‘From the want of authentic records in the early ages of Scottish history, I have been as brief as the subject would admit. When we come to more enlightened times, the events that passed will be more fully treated. The fourth and last volume of this Book, which gives an account of this present war from its commencement, will be above 200 pages, including the Subscribers names, who are now upwards of two thousand’.
ESTC t198507, listing BL, Hornel Art Gallery Library (Kirkcudbright), NLS and Cornell only.