1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Cunningham

William Beloe, in Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce Books 2 (1807) 400-02.



The Rev. Dr. Thompson, when he wrote the Introduction to the History of Great Britain from 1688 to the accession of George the first, left it a matter of doubt, whether Alexander Cunningham, the editor of Horace, and Alexander Cunningham, the author of that history, were the same or different persons.

I am able to pronounce, unequivocally, that they were different persons. Alexander Cunningham, the Historian, died in Westminster, and was buried in the Chancel of St. Martin's Church, on May the 15th, 1737. His will is deposited in Doctors Commons.

Alexander Cunningham, the Editor of Horace, died at the Hague in December 1730.

In the Obituary of Mr. Professor Macky, he is described as "Literator eximius."

I am in possession, through the kindness of Mr. G. Chalmers, of a duodecimo edition of Horace, by Rutgersius, in 1699, crouded with manuscript notes by this Alexander Cunningham. It was presented to the late Marquis of Lansdowne, by Lord Buchan, with the following letter.

"Dryburgh Abbey, Nov. 14th, 1800.
My Lord,
I have sent by the hands of my nephew, whom I beg leave to recommend to your Lordship's attention, the curious original MS. of the Horatius Cunninghamii, which you will see mentioned in that interesting Preface to Hollinbury's edition of the Translation of Cunningham's History of Great Britain, with a view to determine his identity.
This little book seeks for access to your fine library, as will the bearer, who is fond of literature, and is an admirer of your literary and political character. I desire to be kindly remembered to Lord Henry Petty, and am, with much regard,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's obedient humble servant,
BUCHAN.
To the most honourable
The Marquis of Lansdowne,
London."

With a book by David Erskine, Esq. of Holmes.

In the first leaf Lord Buchan has written thus: "Mr. Cunningham's Horace, with the original notes, given me by Mr. George Paton, March 4th, 1786."

In the second page is written, "Notae marginales in hoc libro scriptae sunt per Alex. Cunninghamium."

The marginal notes are innumerable; not having the means of consulting an edition of Cunningham's Horace, I am not able to say whether the various readings which appear in this volume were there adopted, but many references to critical authors and passages appear in this volume, which would be of material use to every reader of this Poet.

This most curious little books was sold at the auction of Lord Lansdowne's library, and there purchased by Mr. Chalmers, for the sum of four guineas or thereabouts.

In the last page some person has written with a pencil, "Van de Waters Horatius, with Mr. Cunningham's MS. corrections and various readings."