Two Scottish Books of Interest

Your blogger likes to torture himself by looking at catalogues of rare and antiquarian books. The catalogues often contain material of great interest, however, and have indeed resulted in a few blog entries about items and provenance.

Your blogger has just noticed in the recent online antiquarian catalogue of the Lawbook Exchange two works of significant Scottish interest. The first is the most important. It is a first edition of Sir George Mackenzie’s work, Pleadings in Some Remarkable Cases before the Supreme Courts of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1672). Your blogger has always been interested in Mackenzie, one of the most important legal figures in Scottish history, a man with a rare brilliance. As your blogger has argued elsewhere, this work, with the author’s Idea eloquentiae forensis hodiernae and Oratio on the inauguration of the Advocates Librarypresent an important ideological account of what it is to be an advocate. The special interest of the copy offered for sale into catalogue is that it was once the property of  Henry Home, Lord Kames, an observation which raises a number questions. See the online catalogue of March 20, 2018 (book number 67909): see https://www.lawbookexchange.com/

The other book of Scottish interest in the Catalogue (book number 13950) is a New York edition of the The Trial of Thomas Muir (New York, 1794). The evident ignorance of your blogger meant he was surprised to discover that this work had been printed in New York in 1794. Muir, for long an obscure though extremely interesting figure, has in recent years been rediscovered as a hero of the Scottish left. He is one of those individuals who can be reinvented for a variety of differing purposes. He has recently been claimed, for example, as “the father of Scottish democracy”, which is, I suppose a matter of opinion even though one can think of more likely candidates for such an unhistorical role, and, rather improbably, as a Nationalist. The New York imprint testifies to his significance  in his own day, though the print is intriguingly by Samuel Campbell of Hanover Square. Campbell was a native of Scotland;  in 1794 he sent a copy of this edition to George Washington at the request of Muir himself. Washington’s copy was still in his Library at his death: see https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-15-02-0498 – alas this copy for sale is not it!

 

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