Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Visitors to the Library at Innerpeffray often ask how or why individual books made it into our collections. This month, to coincide with Book Week Scotland, we’ve sifted through the archives at Innerpeffray to see whether we can find out how some of our earlier books came to be available for borrowing.

The Library at Innerpeffray was founded by David Drummond, Lord Madertie, in the 1680s. His will states that “I have lately begun a library” in the top room of the family chapel, and that its books are to be available for borrowing for the benefit of all. We can identify some 400 books from the original collection due to his helpful habit of marking his books “Madertie” on the top left corner of one of the first few pages (as above). None of our archival material goes back far enough to tell us where his books were coming from, or what he was choosing, but the books themselves show us that it was not always a matter of choice. For example, the image below shows the signature of Patrick Lord Drummond dated 1582, taken from the bottom of a “Madertie” book, Cosmographie. This shows that material was being passed down through the family, and that the collection Madertie was making available to the public contained some books which he had inherited. We have no evidence to show that he was choosing any books for a public readership, rather, it seems that he was making public his own collections, whatever they happened to be.

 Lord Madertie had left money in his will with the express intention that the library “be augmented by my successors yearly in time comeing”. While information on the library in the years after Madertie’s death is sparse, it is evident from the lack of books from that period that little had been done by way of increasing the collections. The Mortification Book, a document held in a private collection but to which the library has been given access, contains minutes from the meetings of the Innerpeffray Mortification (the trustees of the library) from 1741-1773, and includes some transaction records. Of the historic transactions, only 2 references to book buying are recorded up to 1741, in 1709 “for the buying of books to augment the library … 333-05-08”, and, in 1723/4, 500 merks scots. Though the sums are large, book buying does not occur with any frequency, and we have no means by which to test whether what was being bought reflected the whims of the purchaser (always a trustee, never the keeper) or the wants of the borrowers.

In the 1740s, however, the archives at Innerpeffray do give us something to go on. Robert Hay, an Englishman who had recently begun a career in the church, inherited the estates of Innerpeffray and Cromlix in 1739, and took up the family name of Drummond as part of his inheritance. Already a man of the church, he eventually ascended to the role of Archbishop of York in 1761. In 1744 he dictated to a secretary a list of “books proposed to be brought into the Library at Innerpeffray, as occasion offers”, a list which remarkably remains within the archives today. The list comprises four categories: divinity, classics, history & politic and miscellanea. It ranges from giving extensive details on particular volumes (date, format, number of volumes, and place of publication) to recommended authors in general. Whilst divinity takes pride of place on page one (though the list is unpaged, Divinity is given immediately below the title), it is classics which is the largest, closely followed by politics and history. There is a stark lack of philosophy, even among the classics. Miscellanea contains many literary works in English (Swift, Chaucer, Congreve, Shakespeare) and French too (Racine, Molière). This list does not identify gaps Hay Drummond knew of in the Innerpeffray collection. In fact, it shows us that he did not know the collection that well, since several of the titles he listed had been in the collection a long time, displaying the “Madertie” signature associated with our founder. It does, however, give us a rare insight into what a man like Hay Drummond would recommend for the shelves of a lending library.

Only around a third of the recommended titles from this list appear in the collection today, which is far less than can be accounted for by mere attrition. Further entries in the Mortification Book show that there was a ban on purchasing items from the list until a space for them, in the form of a new building commissioned by Hay Drummond (in which the collection remains today) had been completed. While book buying did not start again until 1765, the list was not forgotten about in the intervening years. A letter to the librarian from a trustee in January 1772 still refers to the “Archibishop’s list”, but goes on to discuss financial dealings with the bookseller, a Mr Drummond, who it seems had sent across various books mentioned on the list before the library had secured funds to pay for them.  The casual “as occasion offers” from the header of the 1744 list reminds us that, as even the future Archbishop knew, books cost a significant amount of money, money which could not be guaranteed always to be available to the library.

Now that the archives have taken us some way towards knowing what the patron of the library thought the public should be reading in the mid eighteenth century, it would be fascinating to see whether the borrowing habits of Innerpeffray readers match the books intended for them. While we have seen that a direct comparison is not possible (people cannot borrow items that never made it to the shelves) the uniquely fulsome borrower records at Innerpeffray can, with future analysis, show us whether the type of items they were borrowing (genre, size, modernity, language) reflect what was recommended for them.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Chinese Words of Wisdom

In 1647 a Dominican friar, Fernandez Navarette, was sent from Spain to the Philippines and then to China to serve the Christian communities there. He spent 26 years in this task and his account of the Empire of China is to be found in Vol1 of a 4 volume set called ‘Voyages and Travels’ in the Library of Innerpeffray. Contained in this account is an extensive discourse on the words of Chinese moral philosophers, in particular Confucius. Reading the sayings of these philosophers soon make you realise that parallel sentiments are to be found in the Bible and Shakespeare’s plays. The sayings were written in the centuries after 600 BC and here are but a few of these sayings. It is not difficult to recognise like sayings in the Bible and (if you know them) Shakespeare's plays.

1) The resolute and valorous Man fears not though he sees Death before his face…. (Julius Caesar to Calphurnia).

2) When a Man does good to others he does it to himself.

3) Do not trouble yourself to ask where Heaven is…..you have it in your heart. (The Kingdom of God is within you).

4) Let your Meat, Drink and Clothing be suitable to your condition. (Polonius’ advice to his son in Hamlet).

5) You must not because you are Noble despise those that are not. (Dost think that because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale! Twelfth Night).

6) If hatred once takes root it is hard to pull it up.

7) Life and Death are always before our Eyes. There is nothing bad in this world but Man’s sin.

8) He that would know a Father must observe his Children. (He that has seen me has seen the Father.)

9) A good neighbour next door is better than a rich Relation afar off

10) It is easy to begin a law-suit but a hard matter to end it.

11) He that looks into other Men’s lives ought first to look into his own. ( Motes and planks in eyes? NT)

12) If you would know what is to come, examine what is past.

13) The greatest Joy ends in Sorrow.

And for the Library……

14) He that borrows a book is obliged to use it well!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Last Words of Lord Lovat

Library volunteer and Outlander lover Sue Henderson gives us a brief history of one of the most colourful figures in the Jacobite story.  And to whom, we ask, does he refer in his last words? 

SIMON FRASER, 11TH LORD LOVAT circa 1667 – 1747

Sometimes known as The Fox, Simon Fraser led a colourful life. Credited to ‘kidnapping’ with a view to forcefully marrying Lady Amelia Murray, daughter of John Murray 1st Marquis of Athol.
The Murray’s were a powerful family themselves and prosecuted Fraser who fled to France.
Convicted in ‘absentia’ attainted and sentenced to death, however, during the 1715 Rebellion, Fraser supported the Government and King, and was duly rewarded with a pardon for his crimes.
After winning litigation his title of Lord Lovat was bestowed upon him.
For whatever reason, he became entangled in the 1745 Rebellion, and was committed to a trial lasting from 9th March 1747 until 19th when he was condemned to death.
A great many rebel prisoners were transported to America “’Tis said that the government has for a good while past been at an expense of upwards of £40 a day for keeping state prisoners.”
On the 9th April 1747, the morning of his execution a terrible accident happened with scaffolding built in many stories by The Ship alehouse. This held several hundred persons on it, which had come along, for a day out! It fell down and 8 – 10 persons were killed including the master carpenter and his wife who was selling beer underneath it.
Just prior to his death, his Lordship called for William Fraser, his solicitor and agent, and holding up his gold headed cane said, “I deliver you this cane, as a token of my sense of your faithful services and of my committing to you all the power I have upon earth;” and embraced him. He now called for Mr James Fraser and embracing him said, “my dear James, I am going to heaven, but you must continue to crawl a little longer in this evil world” and took his leave of them both.