Poems on Several Occasions
A book of John Lapraik's Poems and Songs was published in 1788 by John Wilson of Kilmarnock - the same printer who had first published Burns' poems two years earlier. Perhaps the best explanation for the publication of Lapraik's poems is to be found in his Epistle to Robert Burns (which features in the book) when he declares that he had no thought of giving the world his:
Dull, insipid, thowless rhyme.
And stupid, senseless stuff;
Till your kind muse, wi' friendly blast,
First tooted up my fame,
And sounded loud thro' a' the Wast
My lang forgotten name.
The cost of publishing the book was paid by those Subscribers willing to invest their money in the hope that the book sold well and they would thus get a return on their investment.
The book begins with a Dedication in verse which seeks to explain why the author does not feel it appropriate to dedicate the book to anyone specifically and instead wishes it to be to the "Partial Public" who would buy his book.
There follows a Preface which explains the author's motivation for publishing his work:
..in consequence of misfortunes and disappointments, he was, some years ago, torn from his ordinary way of life, and shut up in Retirement, which he found at first painful and disagreeable. Imagining however that he had a kind of turn for Rhyming, in order to support his solitude, he set himself to compose the following Pieces...
Although it isn't explicitly mentioned, it would have been well known that Lapraik had been imprisoned for debt following the collapse of the Ayr Bank a few years earlier and it would have been obvious that the publication was done in the hope that it would be a commercial success to assist in rebuilding his finances.
Poems and Songs
Comprising 45 poems and 21 songs, the contents of Poems on Several Occasions can be viewed here.
© John Lapraik www.lapraik.com