Left: James Currie. Right: a portrait of Burns by Archibald Skirving, published in The Works of Robert Burns, by Blackie and Son, Glasgow, 1854.
Date : 24-09-1801
Correspondent : James CurrieCorrespondent Location : Liverpool
Recipient : William Davies Recipient Location : London
Subject : Currie discusses inserting new material in the new edition.
Dear Sir Your letter of the 12th is before me – The alteration proposed to you by Mr Smyth as desired by me , cannot now be made, unless the love letters which stood first in the first edition ^ & were omitted in the second should be inserted in an appendix to the third. But this I leave to you — I scarcely think it necessary. The public are more disirous than I expected of every scrap of our singular poet — Did you send the Copies of the second edition to Gilbert Burns? To whom did you send them? Some weeks ago I under=stand he had not received them — Will you address a few lines to him by post – “Gilbert Burns Moreham-Mains by Haddington”, informing him where he may apply for them. The reply of Mr Cadell was quite satisfactory. Unfortunately the Reviews &ca for the Athenaeum were sent by the Manchester instead of the Liverpool Coach, & two days later than they might to have been. I will beg of you to have the goodness to attend to their being forwarded early & directly next month. The Bearer ^ of this is my very worthy friend Hector Macneill Esqr, author of two volumes of beautiful poems lately published by Longman & Rees and which have probably met your attention — He has a <> project of an interesting prose work, on which I have desired him to consult you — I think highly of his talents & know him to be a man of singular honour & integrity — You will see he is in poor health. If you can in any respect promote his views you will confer a favour on me — I have advised him to give you a preference & to speak to you confiden=tially — In haste I am Dr Sir Yr faithful friend & St Ja Currie

Notes :

Smyth: William Smyth (1765-1849), eventually Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.

Gilbert Burns: (1760-1827), Robert Burns’s brother who took issue with some of Currie’s character portrayal of the poet; in the event, however, he did little to alter the assessment in Currie’s biographical introduction for subsequent editions.

Athenaeum: originally, the temple of Athene, then the name of college of higher education founded by the Emperor Hadrian, c.133; revived as name for literary institutions. Liverpool Athenaeum developed from activities of the Liverpool Literary Society; plans were drawn up in 1797, and premises opened in Church St. in 1799. Funded by subscription, it had Currie and Roscoe as founder members. Currie alludes to it in his letter to Cadell & Davies, 27 June 1799.

Hector Macneill: (1746-1818), Scottish poet.

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