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Strictures on Military Discipline; in a Series of Letters, with a Military Discourse;

in which is Interspersed Some Account of the Scotch Brigade in the Dutch Service. By an Officer.

Published: London: John Donaldson, 1774

Stock code: 90563

Price: £650

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First edition, first impression. Uncommon, ESTC lists just 9 copies world-wide, those at BL and HAC Library noted as imperfect, OCLC adds the New York Historical Society Library and the Dutch Koninklijke Bibliotheek. The Scots Brigade was formed in the late sixteenth century as one of the foreign units in support of the Dutch fight for independence, and by the mid-eighteenth century was becoming somewhat of an anachronism. Conflict over the American Revolution was to lead to return of the regiment’s officers with the colours to Britain, and the eventual amalgamation of the Brigade into the British Army, first in 1794 as The Scotch Brigade, and then in 1802 as the 94th Regiment of Foot, before eventual disbandment in 1818. In the present work, the author – James Cunningham, or Cunninghame, (1722-1793), laird of Balbougie, Fife, who was one of the officers who accompanied the colours back and re-established the regiment on British soil – provides some context for, criticism of, and prescriptions for the Brigade; together with a commentary on the current condition of the military profession and suggestions for its improvement, including an interesting selection of books, “for the perusal of the soldiery … from which they may find much instruction and amusement, with regard to their duty as officers, soldiers, and Christians” (p.205). A contemporary reviewer, while critical of Cunninghame’s style – his “desultory random manner” – expresses approbation of his intentions, and the belief that he may be successful in attaining them; “The writer … expresses great concern for the neglected condition of his corps; and he proposes the means of their restoration to military discipline, comfortable subsistence, and reputation. The performance includes various sensible remarks on military affairs … [and] includes a religious and moral discourse on the character of Cornelius the centurion well calculated to be read with advantage by his countrymen in the Dutch service …” (The Monthly Review or Literary Journal, 53, p.85). The errata have been neatly corrected in the text, together with a number of additional emendations the nature of which suggest the possibility that they may be in the author’s hand.

Octavo (200 125 mm) Contemporary lightly sprinkled calf, red morocco label, edges sprinkled red. A little rubbed, slight tan burn to the endpapers, light browning to the text, small chip from the head margin of the errata leaf, but a very good copy.

Bibliography: ESTC T48745

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