“Fill in the blank” Dedicatee

[W. Howard] The Happy Government: or, the Constitution of Great-Britain. Humbly Presented to the [----]. London: Printed for the author, 1738.  Call number: (Ex) AC911.xE53

[W. Howard] The Happy Government: or, the Constitution of Great-Britain. Humbly Presented to the [----]. London: Printed for the author, 1738.[ESTC N32837; variant of Foxon H340] Call number: (Ex) AC911.xE53, no. 8.

Note inscription after ‘Humbly Presented to the’

“the most Hona[ble] John Hay, marquess & Earl of Tweed[dale], one of his Majesty. Principal Secret[ary] of State.”

Eighteenth-century poet W. Howard was described as “an aged and infirm man, in order to relieve his wants, circulated his [poetry] by printing on every title-page an address to some distinguished person.” Foxon’s English Verse 1701-1750 records several titles published between 1730 and 1747 “issued with variant title-pages with alternative dedicatees” (cf. H337 to H344). • In this instance, the dedicatee is John Hay (1695-1762), fourth marquess of Tweeddale. According to the Oxford DNB, he became principal secretary of state for Scotland in 1742. This is some years after the poem’s printing in 1738, suggesting that Howard used his stock as occasions developed, rather than distribute it all at one time.