Shand, Alexander Innes (DNB12)

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SHAND, ALEXANDER INNES (1832–1907), journalist and critic, born at Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, on 2 July 1832, was only child of William Shand of Arnhalt, Fettercairn, by his second wife, Christina (d. 1855) daughter of Alexander Innes of Pitmedden, Aberdeenshire. His father possessed a considerable estate in Demerara, but his income was greatly reduced on the abolition of slavery. The family then moved to Aberdeen, where Alexander, after being educated at Blair Lodge school, entered the university, graduating M.A. in 1852.

Declining an offer of a commission in the 12th Bengal cavalry, owing to his widowed mother's objection to his going abroad, he turned to the law. But in 1855, on his mother's death, he began a series of prolonged and systematic European tours. When at home he engaged in sport and natural history on the estate of Major John Ramsay, a cousin, at Straloch in Aberdeenshire. In 1865 he was admitted to the Scottish bar and, marrying, settled in Edinburgh. Owing to his wife's health he soon migrated to Sydenham, and while there he discovered his true vocation. After contributing papers n 'Turkey,' 'America,' and other subjects during 1867 to the 'Imperial Review,' a short-lived conservative paper under the editorship of Henry Cecil Raikes [q. v.], he began writing for 'The Times' and for 'Blackwood's Magazine,' and also joined the brilliant staff of John Douglas Cook [q. v.], editor of the 'Saturday Review.' To these three publications he remained a prolific contributor for life, although at the same time he wrote much elsewhere. 'He fluked himself,' he wrote, 'into a literary income' (Day of the Past). But although he wrote too rapidly and fluently to be concise or always accurate, his habit of constant travel, wide reading, good memory, and powers of observation made him a first-rate journalist. To 'The Times' he contributed biographies of, among others, Tennyson, Lord Beaconsfield, and Napoleon III (cf. Shand's 'Memories of The Times,' Cornhill Mag. April 1904), as well as descriptive articles from abroad, from the west of Ireland and the highlands of Scotland, several series of which were collected for separate issue. He was also an occasional correspondent for the newspaper during the Franco-German war (1870), republishing his articles as 'On the Trail of the War.' Shand at the same time wrote novels which enjoyed some success, but he showed to greater advantage in biography. In 1895 he published a life of his intimate friend, Sir Edward Hamley [q. v. Suppl. I], which reached a second edition. 'Old World Travel' (1903) and 'Days of the Past' (1905), consisting mainly of later sketches in the 'Saturday Review,' give a charming picture of Shand's character, of his capacity for making friends with 'poachers, gamekeepers, railway guards, coach drivers, railway porters, and Swiss guides,' and of his experience of London clubs, where he was at home in all circles. A tory of the old school, he united strong personal convictions with large-hearted tolerance. Among his friends were George Meredith, Laurence Oliphant, and George Smith the publisher. He was devoted to children and all animals, especially dogs, was a fine rider, good shot, and expert angler. He knew how to cook the game he killed, and wrote well on culinary matters.

In 1893 he was British commissioner with Sir Philip Cunliffe Owen at the Paris Exhibition. He was busily engaged in writing till his death, which took place on 20 Sept. 1907 at Edenbridge, Kent. He was buried in the churchyard of Crookham Hill. He married on 25 July 1865 Elizabeth Blanche, daughter of William Champion Streatfeild, of Chart's Edge, Westerham, Kent. She died on 6 June 1882, leaving no children.

Shand published, besides the works mentioned:

  1. 'Against Time,' a novel, 1870.
  2. 'Shooting the Rapids,' a novel, 1872.
  3. 'Letters from the Highlands,' 1884.
  4. 'Letters from the West of Ireland,' 1885.
  5. 'Fortune's Wheel,' a novel, 1886.
  6. 'Half a Century,' 1887.
  7. 'Kilcurra,' a novel, 1891.
  8. 'Mountain, Stream and Covert,' 1897.
  9. 'The Lady Grange,' a novel, 1897.
  10. 'The War in the Peninsula,' 1898.
  11. 'Shooting' (in 'Haddon Hall Library'), in collaboration, 1899.
  12. 'Life of General John Jacob,' 1900.
  13. 'Wellington's Lieutenants,' 1902.
  14. 'The Gun Room,' 1903.
  15. 'Dogs' (in 'Young England Library'), 1903.

There came out posthumously:

  1. 'Soldiers of Fortune,' 1907.
  2. 'Memories of Gardens ' (his last sketches in the 'Saturday Review'), 1908.

Shand also contributed chapters on 'Cookery' to 8 vols. of the 'Fur, Fin, and Feather' series (1898-1905), and prefixed a memoir to Kinglake's 'Eothen' (1890 edition).

[Sir Rowland Blennerhassett's memoir prefixed to Memories of Gardens, 1908; The Times, 23 Sept. 1907; Shand's works, especially Old World Travel and Days of the Past; private information.]

W. B. D.