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 : 15-06-1804
Correspondent : Cadell & DaviesCorrespondent Location : London
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : the publishers write to Currie re Chalmers’ sketch of the poet’s life which Currie had criticised and of the subscribers commissioning John Flaxman to design a ‘monument’ for Burns.

Dear Sir –
      It gives us sincere Pleasure to find from your Letter, with which we are just favoured, that the little Tour you have been recently making, has been attended with the Consequences naturally to be expected from it, a material Improvement of your Health – We hope you will be induced to make a similar Tour, annually –
     We beg Leave to congratulate you heartily on the Gratification you would derive from all you saw and all you heard, relative to our poor Bard and his Family – and we can readily picture to our Imagination the grateful Delight with which the Widow would receive a Visit from the Friend whose benevolent and unremitting Exertions she and her Children owed so much – Mr Flaxman, we think, would be readily prevailed upon, gratuitously, to sketch a Design for a Monument, and one that, most probably, would presently be adopted by the Subscribers – This eminent Artist is one of Burns’s most enthusiastic Admirers –
     We will take an early Opportunity of communicating your Letter to Mr Chalmers, to whom every Line of it, we know, will give very considerable Pleasure –
     The new Edition of the “Medical Reports” shall be advertised the Instant we get a Copy of the Titles from Mr McCreery, and we will write to him for it by this Days Post – We beg you will freely command any Number of Copies for Presents – and, with Regard to the Price of the Copyright, as we perfectly agree to the Sum you are so good as mention, we inclose two Bills, amounting together to the £105..0..0 – both which, on their being presented by your Bankers, will, we doubt not, be duly honoured – You can favour us with a Receipt, at your Convenience –
     It, at this Moment, occurs to our Recollection that Mr McCreery in a late Letter, sufficiently describes the new Edition, for our immediately advertising it, without writing to him – The Advertisements shall therefore be sent to the Papers immediately – In that Letter he also gives us an Idea of the Expences of Printing and Paper, from which we find the two Volumes cannot possibly be sold retail for less than ?S? 14/- in Boards – So that the Copies delivered to the Booksellers at Liverpool (and we will direct Mr McCreery to distribute a proper Number amongst them) will be charged to them at [?S? 9/8d] –
     We are ever, dear Sir, With true Respect & Regard,

Your obliged and faithful Servants

Cadell & Davies


Notes :

Mr Flaxman: English sculptor, John Flaxman (1775-1826) was eventually commissioned in 1824 to produce a white marble sculpture of Burns; this was only completed, in fact, two years after Flaxman’s death in 1828 and is now housed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Chalmers: Alexander Chalmers (1759-1834) prolific Scottish literary critic, whose ‘sketch’ of the life of Burns was ‘prefixed’ by Cadell & Davies to the 1804 edition of Burns.

Medical Reports: Reports on the Effects of water in Febrile Disease (1797).

McCreery: John McCreery (1768-1832), a Liverpool Printer.

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