THE LITERARY and convivial association known by the name of the “ANCIENT SCOTS,” is composed of a select number of natives of Scotland, resident in the metropolis, who are fond of cherishing the remembrance of their common country, and cultivating a knowledge of its history and literature. The more effectually to promote these objects, each Candidate for admission is required to accompany his application with an Original Memoir, written by himself, of some Scotsman eminent in arts of arms, in letters or in science; and this specimen of his qualifications must be publicly read at some meeting of the Society, previous to that on which the ballot takes place for his election.
The Society is as old as the accession of James the Sixth (of Scotland) to the throne of England; but there is a long lapse in its history, during which the whole of its ancient records have been lost. In 1770, it was happily re-established in all its original vigour; and comparatively short as the succeeding period has been, the effect of the peculiar condition attached to admission into its body is of a nature alike gratifying and important. The Society is now in possession of a body of Scottish Biography, which far exceeds all the published collections with which they are acquainted, in authenticity, in interest, and in variety. Scarcely a single Scotsman who is known to fame for any thing great or good, can be named, who has not found, in some Member of the Society, a zealous if not an able biographer. Many of the Memoirs are of a very original character, abounding in facts not generally known; not a few have been written by individuals who have themselves done honour to the Scottish name; and all of them possess the merit, at least, of having given satisfaction to a numerous circle of individuals, neither rash in approbation, nor ill qualified by education and habits to form a just appreciation of literary excellence.
The plan of giving these Memoirs to the world had of late years been often talked of in the Society; and a conviction became general among the Members, that the publication was an act of duty which they owed equally to the honour of the Scottish nation and character, and to the general interests of learning.
At the anniversary Meeting of the Society, on St. Andrew's Day, 1820, it was accordingly
A Committee was named, with full power to carry this Resolution into effect; and under their direction, the task of preparing these Memoirs for publication has been entrusted to the Secretary of the Society.
The mode of publication on which the Committee have decided has been arranged with a view to the union of cheapness and convenience, with the greatest possible degree of elegance. The work will be of a pocket size, and published in a series of monthly parts, each part consisting of 180 pages, embellished with a plate, containing five portraits, executed in a new and beautiful style of engraving, by which every print will be equal to the first, or what is commonly called a proof impression.
The Secretary has, with the approbation of the Committee, arranged the Memoirs into separate classes; making one class of Poets, a second of the Historians, a third of the Philosophers, and so on with the various other denominations of character.
The first class of Lives, which is proposed to present to the public, will be the Lives of the Poets. It is estimated that these will occupy about four parts; and the whole series between thirty and forty.
The work will be published, for the Society, by Mr. Boys, No. 7, Ludgate Hill; to whom the Members are requested to apply for their copies.
By order of the Committee.
ARTHUR SEMPIL, Secretary.