[George Dyer, poet and English Jacobin, writes to the Earl of Buchan following a visit to his seat, Dryburgh Abbey, Berwickshire.] Substantial Autograph Letter Signed ('G Dyer'), discussing the preparation of his volume of poems and other topics.

George Dyer (1755-1841), poet and radical, leading English Jacobin, in circle of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Godwin, Lamb; David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan (1742-1829), Scottish antiquarian
Publication details: 
Cambridge. Undated, but written shortly before the publication of his poems in 1801.
SKU: 21106

3pp., 4to. Bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin stub from mount neatly adhering. A long, closely written letter of 116 lines, including eight-line postscript at head of first page. Addressed by Dyer on reverse of second leaf: 'To Lord Buchan | Dryburgh Abbey | Berwickshire | Scotland.' Buchan has annotated the reverse of the second leaf: 'George Dyer | Characteristic | while I reasoned with George Dyer in my Library at Dryburgh Abbey on the Economy of Nature and the Providence of God, I said Heaven itself will one day bear witness to my Words. At the instant there was a flash of Lightning so vivid as to deprive us for a moment of Sight | This [...] subject for Poetry' (latter part obscured by stub). Both men have interesting entries in the Oxford DNB. Dyer's entry stresses his eccentricity, of which the present letter is indeed 'Characteristic'. The main topic is Dyer's obsessive belief that his conversation has in some way offended Buchan and 'given, very undesignedly, some offence to my friends in Scotland'. Dyer also discusses the preparation for publication of privately-printed 'Poems' of 1801, whose 'Ode XXXIX' is titled 'After visiting Dryburgh Abbey, in Berwickshire, the Seat of Lord and Lady Buchan'. The poem carries the following footnote: 'This delightful spot, now the residence of Lord and Lady Buchan, was formerly a monastery. In a part of the chapel are now placed the busts of our English poets. Lord Buchan is well known as a man of letters.' The florid opening paragraph of the letter starts: 'Kind Sir, | It is unpleasant to write, and no less unpleasant to read, letters of apology: they move heavily and leave behind nothing worth remembering. The writer feels like a prisoner at the bar, and if conscious of crime, recollection of civilities received he finds painful, and without waiting for the decision of the judge, he confesses himself worthy of punishment.' The second paragraph sets out Dyer's specific concerns: 'I intended writing to you from Berwick, and to acknowlege [sic] your civilities to me when at Kelso: but I thought it expedient afterwards to defer writing till after I had been at Richmond, more particularly as my mind at the time was quite occupied with poetical reveries though I said nothing on the subject to my ingenious and sensible fellow-traveller. On my arrival in London I expecterd to receive letters from Dr. Anderson [the author and editor Dr Robert Anderson (1750-1830), who like Buchan was a member of the American Antiquarian Society] to be conveyed to [sic] me under cover to James Marten: one was to have been a letter to Park from Dr. Anderson, as a kind of introductory letter. From Park I expected to hear every thing relative to the Richmond business: but I waited in vain for letters, and knew nothing concerning the place for solemnizing the birth-day of Thompson. I was extremely puzzled to account for this silence, and was at length unhappy, fearful, that I had given, very undesignedly, some offence to my friends in Scotland: I have however since recd: letters, perfectly satisfactory, from Dr. Anderson, and others: having, however, no letter to Park, and the birth day of Thompson having passed by unnoticed, I was perplexed and knew not what to say to you.' He gives the gist of a speech made by Buchan 'when I had the pleasure of seeing you at Dryburgh', on the subject of acknowledging the giving of pain by ones words, and confesses: 'Now, Sir, I did recollect having made two speeches of this kind, and though probably you may not recollect them, or indeed might not have noticed them at the time, yet the recollection of them gave pain to me.' He explains at length how he 'wished to apologize', but 'knew not what to say or how to begin'. But now Buchan's 'very civil letter' has 'removed my suspicions [that he has given offence], and increased my respect for you.' Again, he had wished to answer immediately, but could not get a frank: 'I had not an opportunity of getting the name of an M.P., as the friends, who are kind enough to favour me with their names occasionally, were not in town'. He has been 'pedestrianizing backwards & forwards to Cambridge, time insensibly stole away […] and therefore now write to you from Cambridge, though I have no M.P. at hand'. After further apologies and explanations he praises Buchan's 'delightful retreat of Dryburgh Abbey, and the learned Hermit residing there', adding: 'you may rest assured yourself that I shall not forget them in my poems, ere long to be published. I am at present quite enslaved to Poetry. I am just ready with a volume of poems in which I shall not be forgetful of the hospitality of [sic] natural beauty of Scotland: The Muse, however, is obliged to give way for a reason, and a violent head-ach, a bad substitute supplies its place: a pain which I assure you is not diminished by contemplating the contents of this letter.' He hopes he will have 'the pleasure of revisiting Dryburgh at some future opportunity when I shall be in better spirits, than I am at present, and when I may be able to express in person, what I now do by letter, viz: that I have a high sense of your civility and worth.' He may return to Dryburgh with his 'particular' friend James Ramsay Cuthbert of neighbouring Ednam. He has 'delivered' Buchan's 'remembrance to L[aetitia]. Barbauld, D. Gregory & Dr. Tytler' and hopes to see him on his return to town. In the concluding paragraph he states that he has delivered Buchan's 'papers to the Editor of the Monthly Mag[azine]: they as yet have not, I perceive, made their appearance, but owing to no neglect of mine. I delivered them immediately on coming to London: one, indeed, is I believe precluded from being inserted there as having been published before: the other will I doubt not appear next month'. At the end of the letter Dyer declares that he holds 'some peculiarities of sentiment', and in the postscript he expresses the hope that he will be 'in better spirits' if he has 'occasion to write again to Dryburgh […] on a more agreeable topic'. He ends with reference to his 'fellow traveller [J. Leyden?], who was kind enough to accompany me from Edinburgh to Newcastle is very clever; as also is your neighbour [Landie?], the son of the Dissenting minister'. Accompanying the letter is an engraving of Dyer by Henry Meyer from a drawing by 'Miss Beetham', 'Published by Mathews & Leigh, 1809'. In good condition, in windowpane mount.