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 : 26-06-1800
Correspondent : Thomas TelfordCorrespondent Location : Salop
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : Thomas Telford writes with a transcription of a letter by A. Alison, and describes his inability to obtain a copy of Currie's edition.
My good friend,

I have this moment a long letter from the Prebend of Sarum – A. Alison – and I cannot help transcribing a bit of a paragraph altho’ the a-d [water?] has almost spoilt it._

“Your transmission of Burns to D. Stewart will probably prevent me
“from seeing it for many a day. His anxiety to keep it is incredible
“- I shall write you more at length when we have seen it and
“had some conversation on the subject _ I do entreat you to
“express to Dr. Currie, my sincerest regret that I did not wait upon
“him at Liverpool _ The truth was, I was so fatigued with
“running over [there?] I am to get some place for Mrs. A and the
“Children for the night, that I had not spirits to approach him –
“- I thank him however in the name of Burns and Scotland.

I hasten to send you this, because I am particularly anxious that two such men should understand perfectly the value they set upon each other._ Every Post brings me encomiums upon Burns and his Editor._ Certainly not more than they deserve._My kindest regard to Mrs. C. & Willie Wallace – forgive me for scrawling so I have been in the midst of a general Canal mutiny. and have [have?] riding in the Sun till I am sick – I shall see you soon

Yours very sincerely

Tho. Telford


Notes :

Archibald Alison (1757-1839):
Edinburgh-born and educated at Glasgow University and Balliol College, he became an Anglican clergyman. Having met Burns in Edinburgh in Feb. 1789, Alison sent him a copy of his Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste (1790). From Ellisland, 14 Feb. 1791, Burns wrote to him, ‘I own, Sir, that at first glance, several of your propositions startled me as paradoxical’ (Letters II, 71).

Thomas Telford (1757-1834):
Born in Eskdale, Dumfriesshire, Telford became one of Britain’s greatest civil engineers. He worked on 33 canal projects in Britain, the Welland Canal in Canada, and the Panama Canal; built highways including those from London to Holyhead, Glasgow to Carlisle, and many in the Scottish Highlands; and designed many harbours and bridges. A friend of Archibald Alison and the poets, Thomas Campbell and Robert Southey, he wrote a manuscript poem to Robert Burns, 26 verses of which Currie printed in his editions from 1801.

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