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Significant Scots
William Creech


CREECH, WILLIAM, an eminent bookseller, was the son of the Rev. William Creech, minister of Newbattle, a most respectable clergyman, and of Miss Mary Buley, an English lady, related to a family of rank in Devonshire. He was born in the year 1745, and received a complete classical education at the school at Dalkeith, which was taught by Mr. Barclay, a preceptor of some distinction, who also educated the first viscount Melville, and the lord chancellor Loughborough. He was at first designated for the medical profession, but eventually was bound apprentice to Mr. Kincaid, a bookseller in Edinburgh. In the year 1766, Mr. Creech went upon a tour of the continent, in company with Lord Kilmaurs, son of the Earl of Glencairn. After his return, in 1771, he was received by his former master into partnership, and finally, in 1773, left in full possession of the business. For forty-four years, Mr. Creech carried on by far the most extensive bookselling concern in Scotland, publishing the writings of many of the distinguished men who adorned Scottish literature at the close of the eighteenth century. His shop, which occupied a conspicuous situation in the centre of the old town, and yet, by a curious chance, commanded a view thirty miles into the country, was, during all that long period, the Rialto of literary commerce and intercourse, while his house in the neighbourhood also attracted its more select crowds at the breakfast hour, under the name of Creech's levee. While thus busied in sending the works of his friends into the world, he occasionally contributed articles to the newspapers and other periodical works, generally in reference to the passing follies of the day, of which he was a most acute and sarcastic observer. During his own life-time, he published a volume of these trifles, under the title of "Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces," which was re-published with his name, and with some additions, after his death. He was one of the founders of the Speculative Society in 1764.

Mr. Creech's style of composition is only worthy of being spoken of with respect to its ironical humour, which was certainly its only feature of distinction. This humour, though said to have been very powerful when aided by the charm of his own voice and manner in conversation, is of too cold, wiry, and artificial a kind, to have much effect in print. It must also be mentioned, that, although very staid and rigid in style, it involves many allusions by no means of a decorous nature.

In private life, Mr. Creech shone conspicuously as a pleasant companion and conversationist, being possessed of an inexhaustible fund of droll anecdote, which he could narrate in a characteristic manner, and with unfailing effect. He thus secured general esteem, in despite, it appeared, of extraordinary fondness for money, and penuriousness of habits, which acted to the preclusion, not only of all benevolence of disposition, but even of the common honesty of discharging his obligations when they were due. He died, unmarried, on the 14th of January, 1815.

You can read one of his books in pdf format...

Edinburgh Fugutive Pieces
With Letters containing a comparative view of the Modes of Living, Arts, Commerce, Literature, Manners, &c, of Edinburgh at different periods. (1815)


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