Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gleanings from the Odd Book Book Shelf: No. 2, Alexander Gardner, Publisher

The New Testament in Braid Scots rendered by William Wye Smith and published by Alexander Gardner in 1901, is not an uncommon or scarce title but it is a bit of an odd fish in my collection. I picked it up at library sale in London a number of years ago for a few dollars. I thought I would research this publisher and book and hopefully find some interesting gleanings for the odd book bookshelf.

The publisher's device to the left belongs to Alexander Gardner, the Scottish publisher based in Paisley, whose history can be traced back to the late 1820s. The device was a fairly recent addition to this publisher as it only begins to show up in books published in the first decade of the last century, and is generally found at the back of the book centered on one of the penultimate pages. It reflects a certain modernity in its design with its use of the silhouette of an oak tree and a man planting what I assume to be an acorn, and the publisher's initials bookending oak leaves surrounding a Scottish thistle image. The latin motto, vive ut vivas, and its placement around the outside, hearkens back to older designs used by printers and publishers.

According to the Scottish Book Trade Index, Alexander Gardner began as a bookseller, stationer and printer and first appeared at 14 Moss Street, Paisley, from 1828-1830 and their Printing office was at 4 Lillia's Wynd in 1831. This narrow street, “wynd” no longer exists today, but according to an old Paisley Street Directory, it ran up from High Street and met Dyer's Wynd, another narrow street which still exits (truly but an alle
y today). They moved about over the years, but stayed in this vicinity which is just around the corner from the present City Hall and nearby Paisley Abbey.

They began printing mainly religious tracts, pamphlets, and other theological publications which became the foundation of their business. This is not uncommon for a provincial publisher of this period. Some of their earliest publicati
ons I can find are: Letters to a Minister of the Gospel on His and Other Interpretations of Our Saviour's Predictions of His Return by James A. Begg, published in 1831; Sermons Preached to the First United Associate Congregation, Paisley, on Sabbath, 27th December, 1835, by John Mitchell (1768-1844) published in 1836; Symbola Classica, Intended to Assist the Classical Student by William Hunter (Rector of Paisley Grammar School), published in 1833; The Sabbath, a Day of Rejoicing by Rev. Alexander A.M. Rennison, 1849; and Sermons by the Late Alexander Rennison M. A. Minsiter of St. George's Church Paisley, with Memoir, 1868.>

In Fowler's Paisley and Johnstone Commercial Directory for 1845-46, a relation of Alexander Gardner, one Archibald Gardner, is also listed as working at the printing business, and is listed as a “writer” whose domicile was in Nethercommon. He was the author of Morisonianism Refuted: A Review of the Rev. James Morison's Exposition of the Ninth Chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans
published by Alexander Gardner in 1852. A list of other titles written by Archibald Gardner is provided and they are: A Defence of Infant Baptism; A Catechism on the Nature, Design, Subjects and Mode of Christian Baptism, 3rd. Ed.; and A Catechism on the Lord's Supper for the Use of Young Communicants. A one page advertisement of works published by Alexander Gardner is also at the back of this volume and includes: A Brief Commentary on the Epistle of James by Rev. Alexander S. Patterson; The Judgement of the Papacy and Reign of Righteousness by Thomas Houston; and a reprint from an American edition, Hodge on the Romans with an Appendix on the Nature and Extent of the Atonement

By the 1870s they have diversified and expanded their range of publications. Issuing reprints is fairly common pursuit and they came out with a series of literary reprints, poetry, books on local history, travel, as well as their books on religious subjects. A few examples include:
Folklore: or, Superstitious Belief in the West of Scotland Within This Century: with an Appendix Shewing the Probable Relations of the Modern Festivals of Christmas, May Day, St. John's Day and Halloween to Ancient Sun and Fire Worship by James Napier, 1879; The Poems of Allan Ramsay 2 vols., 1877 (being a reprint of a well-known 1800 edition of George Chalmers); Cantus, Songs and Fancies to three, four. . . by John Forbes, 1879 (originally published in 1662); The Songs and Poems of Robert Tannahill ed. By David Semple, 1879; The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson, the American Ornithologist ed. by Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, 2vols., 1876; and the unusual Colquhoun's Closets: or, The Dry and Ventilating System in Lieu of the Present Water Closet and Sewage System by John Colquhoun, 1870. Their publication of John Jamieson's An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 4 vols., 1879-1882, plus the supplementary volume issued in 1887 is one that can be readily found through online bookselling sites but it seems to be the most expensive multi-volume issues of Alexander Gardner's publications presently available.

Some interesting titles from the 1880s include: Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song
, by R. H. Cromek, 1880 (a re-issue of an 1810 London publication, the poems and songs really belonging to the pen of the Scottish poet, Allan Cunningham); Saga of Halfred the Sigskald by Felix Dahn, translated by Sophie F. F. Veitch, 1886; Benderloch: or, Notes From the West Highlands by W. Anderson Smith; Loch Creran: Notes From the West Highlands by W. Anderson Smith; Biographical Dictionary of Musicians: with a Bibliography of English Writings on Music by James D. Brown (Mitchell Library, Glasgow),1886; Martyrs of Angus and Mearns: Sketches in the History of the Scottish Reformation by Rev. J. Moffat Scott (Arbroath), 1885; Wit, Wisdom and Pathos from the Prose of Heinrich Heine, with a few pieces from the “Book of Songs” selected and translated by J. Snodgrass, 2nd. Rev. Ed., 1887; Law Lyrics (anonymous author: Robert Bird) 2nd Ed., 1887; Pinkerton's Lives of the Scottish Saints revised and enlarged by W. M. Metcalfe, 2vols.,1889; Loch Etive and the Sons of Uisnach by R. Angus Smith, New Ed., 1885; The Tragedy of Gowrie House, an Historical Study by Louis A. Barbe, 1887; Life in Shetland by John Russell, 1887; and Idylls of the Captive King by James Sharp, 1887.

On August 23
rd, 1888, Queen Victoria visited Paisley in honour of the city's fourth centenary, and somehow Alexander Gardner managed to procure the licence to print on his title pages from that time onwards, “Publisher to Her Majesty the Queen.” After her death it was continued with “Publisher by Appointment to the Late Queen Victoria.”

The Scottish Review

From November 1882 to July 1886, Alexander Gardner published and collaborated in editing the Scottish Review. Antoinette Peterson in the 1972 publication The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900 edited by Walter E. Hough writes:

And although Scotland possessed two influential newspapers, the Glasglow Herald and the Scotsman, no monthly or quarterly was engaged in the fight for Scottish Home Rule and other liberal-national measures. To correct this situation, two men living in Paisley, both intensely Scottish, determined in 1882 to found a new quarterly in order to “protest against the idea that London is the center of Scottish life, as also against the idea that Scotland is not strong enough to have a literary organ of its own.” The Reverend W. M. Metcalfe, a minister of the Established Church of Scotland, was the “originator and editor” of the Scottish Review. His collaborator was the Paisley publisher whose name was associated with so many Scottish literary revivals, Alexander Gardner. Gardner described the venture as one in which he was to take the pecuniary risk and Metcalfe was to do the editing, though in point of fact this division of labor was never precisely adhered to. (p. 1144).

The Review provided an innovation in their section of summaries of foreign reviews which was copied by other prominent publications. According to Peterson, (p. 1145) Gardner lost 1000 pounds by 1886 and could no longer keep it going, so he sold it to J. P. Crichton-Stuart, the third Marquess of Bute. Gardner remained as publisher until the Review ceased publication in October 1900, the same month as the death of Lord Bute. (p.1147) Gardner had published many books by W. M. Metcalfe over the years, including A History of the Shire of Renfrew from the Earliest Times Down to the Close of the Nineteenth Century; History of Paisley; and Ninian and Machor, the Legends of, in the Scottish Dialect of the Fourteenth Century.

I have noticed that quite a few of the publications of Alexander Gardner contained errata pages. Whether that was due to the Paisley compositors being more acquainted with the vernacular broad Scots, or whether it was due to hasty editing I cannot say. I did find a preliminary note to an errata that was rather charming. It is to be found at the back of the second volume of The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson, the American Ornithologist, ed. by the Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, 1876:

"A final reading of both volumes makes us thankful that the 'slips,' whether of Editor or Printer, are very slight, and of a kind, as the old Divines were wont to put it, as "easily corrected as espied."

Alexander Gardner continued to publish interesting books in the 1890s, and into the next century. The name survives today in Paisley on a modern sign hanging above a nondescript building abutting the rather more interesting wine bar called The Abbey on Lawn Street just around the corner from the Paisley Abbey, and not far from their origins on Moss Street. The sign is the same as the publisher's device found in their books as described at the beginning of this essay. I have made a link to the Google street view here. It seems the company has survived as a printing business, a return to roots it seems. The tree still has life.

The New Testament in Braid Scots

William Wye Smith (1827-1917) was born in Jedburgh Scotland. His parents emigrated to America
in 1830 and after some time in New York, made their way to Southern Ontario. He worked in various jobs in his life, including shopkeeper, teacher, court clerk and in the 1860s, owner and editor of the Owen Sound Times. He then became an ordained minister in the Congregational Church which became his life's work, beginning in Listowel, Ontario and finishing off his career in St. Catherine's, Ontario. He wrote poetry typical of early Canadian poetry, Alazon and Other Poems (Toronto: Hugh Scobie, 1850), and The Poems of William Wye Smith (Toronto: Dudley & Burns, 1888). His rendering of the New Testament into the vernacular Scottish dialect is interesting to read and was seemingly popular during its day. In a note to the helpful Glossary at the back of the volume, Reverend Smith writes:

As to the dialect used in this version, the dialect of Burns, which has become fixed as the literary form of the Broad Scotch, has been mainly followed; and that, notwithstanding many Border predilections on the part of the translator. Burns, Scott and Hogg are the great dialectic authorities in Scotch, to whose diction all must conform: and the world has accepted as a representative form of the language, a dialect used by these, which is not strictly peculiar to any definite locality.

This is an example of his translation, from Mark, chapter 4.1:

And he begude again to teach by the Loch-side. And an unco thrang gather't till him, sae that he gaed intil a boat, and sat i' the Loch; and a' the folk war by the Loch, on the lan'.

This volume has one small errata slip tipped into the book, with one correction:

"Page 146, heading of page, for "Peter's treat" read "Peter's trial."

In my copy, there is a personal ownership inscription on the front free endpaper, "J. Crawford Smith, Perth, Scotland."

Addendum: I began to wonder why William Wye Smith who had used Toronto publishers for his other work, decided upon Alexander Gardner to be his publisher for this book. Undoubtedly Smith was familiar with the books issued by this publisher because the libraries of the day in Mechanic's Institutes generally purchased books from the United Kingdom, often following a guide book
issued by UK based Mechanic's Institute Societies, on what works to choose. Smith was Scottish and the publisher did tend towards religious books so these facts may have all led to the choice of Alexander Gardner. But moving into the area of supposition, Smith's mother's name was Sara Veitch, and Alexander Gardner published a number of works by a writer named Sophie Frances Fane Veitch, and used her work in the Scottish Review to a great extent. Sophie F. F. Veitch was born in 1858 and died in Wanlochead Dumfries in 1912. If this writer was of some relation to Smith's mother, perhaps that also added to the choice of Alexander Gardner. Pure supposition and an open possibility to explore.

Works by Sophie F. F. Veitch published by Alexander Gardner:
Angus Graeme, Gamekeeper, 2vols. 1883.
James Hepburn, Free Church Minister, 2vols. 1887.
The Dean's Daughter: A Novel, 2vols. 1888.
Duncan Moray, Farmer: A Novel, 2vols. 1890.

Sophie F. F. Veitch also used the pseudonym J. A. St. John Blythe.


Unknown said...

Fantastic information on Alexander Gardner I run the local website and it has a page for Paisley Abbey too if you want to have a look all the very best..

Unknown said...

Fantastic Blog.. wonder if this might be of some interest here are some excellent Paisley Photographs of the Paisley Abbey Medieval Festival which took place on September 15th 2012.