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 : 11-05-1802
Correspondent : Cadell & DaviesCorrespondent Location : London
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : The publishers write about Thomas Stewart’s edition of ‘Clarinda’s’ Letters to Burns, and about incorporation of some of this correspondence in a new edition of Currie.

Dear Sir –
     Our Intentions with Respect to Mr McNeill’s Work were to secure him from Loss, and to divide with him whatever Profits might arise upon the first Edition – and, if the Work was well received, we should, of Course, be very ready to make him an Offer for the Property – If this Proposal meets Mr M’s and your Approbation, Mr McCreery may be set to Work as soon as you please –
     Be so obliging as draw upon us for the first 50 Gs due to Mrs Lawrence at a short Date, and for the 2d Sum of the same Amount four or five Months hence –
     We beg you to assure her that we are perfectly satisfied with the Manner in which the Translation is executed, and we do not doubt that when the Publication is properly known, the Sale will equal our Wishes – It will be pleasant to us, on all Accounts, to be called upon for the third 50 Guineas –
     We shall take the earliest Opportunity of seeing what can be done about the Letters of Burns published at Glasgow, that you have been so good as apprise us of, In all Events, a Selection of them will form a very proper Addition to the next Edition of the Works – The Copies of the 3d Edition that you have done us the Favour to order, will all be sent in a Day or two – One of those for yourself will be sent in Boards, as we think you will prefer it in that State, for Corrections or Alterations – but other bound Copies are always at your Service –
     We have lately had some Communications with Dr Bostock, respecting the Athenœum Orders, from which we found that the Committee thought many Books were ordered, that had not been – We have been particularly attentive to this [Business] from the first, and we believe that the Gentleman with whom the Orders for Books principally rest, are now satisfied of this – The Account shall be sent to Dr Barstock, in a Post or two -
     Of the Medical Reports there are about 60 still remaining –
     With best Thanks for your kind Congratulations on our Marriages, we are, dear Sir,

Your obliged and faithful Servants,

Cadell & Davies

P.S. Mr Cunningham, from Edinburgh, has just now called upon us – He tells us that the Letters of Burns above mentioned were published (most infamously) without the knowledge of the Lady to whom they were addressed, and that a Stop has been put to the Sale of them – He kindly offers to give us any Assistance in preventing any further improper Use being made of them, that his Residence at Edinburgh may enable him to give –
Mr Cunningham perfectly agrees with you in thinking that these Letters are ours, subject to your Approbations, as to their being published –


Notes :

Mr McNeill: Hector Macneill (1746-1818) anonymously published the novel, The Memoirs of Charles Macpherson 2 vols (1800 & 1801).

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

Mrs Lawrence: Mrs Rose Lawrence (fl 1799-1829), Liverpool friend of Currie’s whose translation of Gesner appeared in 1802.

Letters of Burns published at Glasgow: Thomas Stewart the Glasgow publisher published his The Poetical Miscellany, Containing Posthumous Poems, Songs, Epitaphs and Epigrams. By Robert Burns, The Ayrshire Poet (Stewart & Meikle: Glasgow, 1800) containing the likes of ‘The Jolly Beggars’ [or ‘Love and Liberty’] which Currie had refrained from publishing. He followed this up with another Burns work, Letters Addressed to Clarinda (1802) over which Cadell & Davies sued Stewart 1802-3, for infringing upon their publishing rights.

Dr Bostock … the Athenœum: Member and ultimately President of the Athenaeum.

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

Mr Cunningham: Alexander Cunningham (c.1763-1812), an Edinburgh lawyer who was one of Burns’s closest friends and most regular correspondents. On 20 July 1796 he proposed to Syme the setting up of the fund for the peot’s widow and children.

without the knowledge of the Lady: Agnes McLehose (1758-1841), Burns’s correspondent whom he christened ‘Clarinda’.

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