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 : 02-12-1797
Correspondent : Mrs Frances DunlopCorrespondent Location : Dunlop
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : Mrs Dunlop informs Currie that she has sent him family letters by Robert Burns.

My Dr Sir
      I had a long while ago the pleasure of a letter from you purporting to be brought by Mr McAdam but which came to me a good while after date by post but without the Liverpool stamp or any other mark by which I might judge when it had been put in or make enquiry for the parcel with which it promised to be accompanyed but which is never yet appeared notwithstanding. I have done every thing I could to discover its destination except writing you before which I undoubtedly would have done had I not been so ill as to be confine[d MS water damage] to [MS water damage] room for near two months past and not yet got downstairs: however I could no longer delay telling you that I have this day forwarded a parcel containing three Letters of Poor Burns’s to his father and Brother with one from Gilbert addresst to you all which he sent to my care and wrote begging me to forward them to Messrs Rankin at Greenock which I have done and hope they have better fortune than the subscription papers you mention sending for me which I doubt are lost and what I still more regret an opportunity of imploying some of them to advantage now irrecoverable: yet if you are so good as repeat the dose I trust it may prove more successful by being put on Ship bound for Greenock well wrapt in severale folds of strong coarse brown paper so as to have no appearance of letters but in form of a bundle addrest to be forwarded by Messrs Rankin to Glasgow for Robt Duncan the Dunlop carrier to the care of Gabriel Watson Glasgow to lie till called for — by this means I will get whatever you please to send safely and you may depend upon my taking every possible care to send what part you mean for Mr Burns to him or any others in what ever way you are pleased to direct them to be disposed of shall be attended to as punctually as I possibly can. Were you not [MS torn] man I should be ashamed to write you for I have neither head nor hand to do it to any purpose but the best of Mankind are those who know best to make proper allowances for all human frailties this encourages our Sex rather to expose our infirmities to yours than to our own else I might rather have sent the illigible scribles of my weak state to Miss McAdam than brought them under the Critical Eye of one for whose opinions it might be imagined I ought to feel a more awfull respect — Will you be so kind as tell her the contents of her last inspires me with a rather mortifying anxiety to get out of her Debt as fast as I can — I think I have heard you speak with partial esteem of a Miss Currie who married Mr Richard Campbell in this country if you have any interest with this Lady and choise to use it in favours of Gilbert Burns I am persuaded her Husband might be of the most material use possible to him by granting him a preference on equal terms on some of those farms he must have to let on his Brother’s estate of Craigie once the property of my son and on which Mr Richard now does all the business and I think it would be great good fortune to the Nabob to be assistant in procuring him such a tenant ↑as↓ Gilbert whose Character as a farmer is thought assiduous and Respectable and I presume Mr or Mrs Campbell would be proud of an opportunity of obliging Dr Currie at the same time they served his Brother’s interest by granting a preference from which he was to reap every advantage at least if I did not fully believe so I would not wish your interference —
      My hand trembles so I can hardly add the many Comps: Dunlop and my Daughters bid me join to my own and present to Mrs Currie and you with a thousand expressions of Esteem and gratitude for all your Hospitable Kindness and obliging attentions to every member of the family of:

           My Dear Sir your affectionate [?]

                and obliged humble Servt

                   Fran: A: Dunlop

accept every good wish of the season which I beg leave also to offer to Mrs and Miss Wallace as well as to Mrs Currie and all her lovely Little ones in which Keith most heartily [MS torn] in her part to Wallace if coming home to keep [?] with his parents — Dec↑br↓ 3 this moment yours is brought me I however send this that you may know to enquire for the ship letters the Company to which the maps alone introduced the Poet in his tour through Scotland does honour to our Country and seems a proper prelude to the singular distinction he was afterwards to enjoy being perhaps the first ploughman whose life is wrote by an M.D.F.R.S with these Capitals still more endeared to the world by the Private less pompous signature of Ja↑s↓ Currie whose Elegant pen imployed in this human purpose adds lustre to his own goodness while it must bespeak partial Indulgence for the man and admiration for the Bard he celebrates Adieu your ?lord is not arrived but ardently and gratefully expected I have not room to add my Eulogy on the beautiful Exordium you send me nor can the remarks of so poor a Critic do due honour to its merit besides the compliment you pay me recalled so forcibly one paid me by Poor Burns who once sacrificed a word to my cavelling objections a thing I never heard of his doing to any body else that I can hardly help using the freedom of questioning of yours if only in remembrance of the complacency of that Immortal mind from whence I derived so often pleasure. Allow me then to ask do polimical writers wish for or deprecate an Inflamed Imagination is not that rather too light a Gas and too combustible in its nature to be trusted with the torch that were apt to creat a definitive conflagration in so Etherial ↑a↓ region or in a medical view is not Inflamation a deadly disease and were it not an effect more devoutly to be wished from the work of the Poet to Enlighten Animate or Invigourate this subtile fluid where it may be dark languid or weak: but this I submit to your better judgement or should I answer the Sceptical doubt to refer to Roscoe who I dare say will decide against one but I hope plead for my pardon and try to veil my Error if I have presumed too far.


Notes :

Mr McAdam: John Louden McAdam (1756-1836) born in Ayr and famously the inventor of ‘Tarmcadam’.

Gilbert Burns (1760-1827): Robert Burns’s brother.

Miss McAdam: daughter of John Louden McAdam.

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