Craig, Alexander (DNB00)

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CRAIG, ALEXANDER (1567?–1627), poet, born at Banff about 1567, was educated in the university of St. Andrews, where he took his degree of master of arts in 1586. At the accession of James he came to London in the hope of obtaining preferment, and in 1604 published ‘The Poetical Essayes of Alexander Craige, Scots-Britane,’ 4to, in which he pays many fulsome compliments to the king and queen. There is a sonnet by Sir Robert Aytoun, in the author's praise, at the end of the book. Craig's flattery was not applied in vain, for on 9 Dec. 1605 he received from James a pension of 600 merks, or 400l. Scots money. At the next meeting of the Scottish parliament an act of ratification of the pension was passed, on 11 Aug. 1607. Having been successful in his pilgrimage, he returned to Scotland and settled at a spot that he calls Rose-Craig, probably situated in the neighbourhood of Banff. In 1606 appeared ‘The Amorose Songes, Sonets, and Elegies of Mr. Alexander Craige, Scots Britane,’ 8vo, dedicated to Queen Anne. The best things in this dull collection are some verses in imitation of Marlowe's ‘Come live with me and be my love,’ and of Sir Walter Raleigh's ‘If all the world and love were young.’ It was followed in 1609 by ‘The Poetical Recreations of Mr. Alexander Craige of Rosecraig,’ Edinburgh, 4to, dedicated to the Earl of Dunbar. One of the pieces is a ‘Complaint to his Majestie,’ in which the poet deplores his poverty. In 1623 Craig published at Aberdeen another volume of ‘Poeticall Recreations,’ 4to, consisting chiefly of epigrams. From some copies of verses in this collection (addressed to the Earl of Mar) it appears that the poet had some difficulty in getting his pension regularly paid. Craig died in 1627. A posthumous poem entitled ‘The Pilgrime and Heremite, in forme of a Dialogue’ (of which a unique copy, wanting sig. B, four leaves, is preserved at Britwell), was published by William Skene in 1631 at Aberdeen, 4to. Some verses in Alexander Gardyne's ‘Garden of Grave and Godlie Floures,’ 1609, are addressed to Craig, who perhaps wrote the first of ‘Certaine Encomiastick Poesies to the Author,’ prefixed to that work. Among the complimentary verses (not found in ed. 1709, but preserved in the author's manuscript) prefixed to Gardyne's ‘The Theatre of the Scotish Kings,’ is a copy of verses by Craig, who also contributed some prefatory verses to ‘The Famous Historie of the Renowned and Valiant Prince Robert, surnamed the Bruce, King of Scotland,’ Dort, 1615. Some verses of Craig are in John Adamson's ‘The Muses' Welcome,’ 1618, and he wrote some commendatory verses to ‘The Staggering State of Scots Statesmen,’ by Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, first printed in 1754. Dr. William Barclay, in ‘Nepenthes, or the Vertues of Tobacco,’ 1614, addresses a short poem to Craig. In 1873–4 a collective edition of Craig's poems, which are very rare and very worthless, was issued by the Hunterian Society, with an introduction by David Laing.

[David Laing's Introduction to the Hunterian reprint of Craig's poems.]

A. H. B.