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 : 13-07-1798
Correspondent : Cadell & DaviesCorrespondent Location : London
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : Caddell & Davies explain to Currie their preference for how Copyright is to be bought in books rather than in money.
Dear Sir
      Be pleased to accept our best Thanks for the very friendly and unreserved Manner in which you confer with us respecting Burns –
      Our principal Motive for proposing Payment for the Copyright in Books, rather than in Money, was what Experience has often proved to us in similar Cases, that the Subscribers, whilst they found that the Author’s Family was to derive that Advantage of the Subscriptions, would hold themselves bound to take their Copies and pay their Money, but the Instant they found that the Property was the Bookseller’s, they would, a great many of them most certainly, think no more about the Matter – So that, had the Trustees adopted the Plan you proposed to them, and the Price of the Subscription been raised to *3↑S↓0/- which the Subscribers could not object to when they found they were to have the Works compleat, the Family would have been much more benefited than by any other Plan to which a Bookseller could accede – and surely the Account might be wholly terminated in twelve or eighteen Months from the Publication – However, we are very ready, dear Sir, to treat with the Trustees, through your Mediation, upon any other Plan that may be thought fair and equitable, and in Order to simplify the Transaction, we will take it wholly upon ourselves to satisfy Messrs Cadell & Creech, not only for the Copyright of the printed Poems, but also for whatever Copies of the Edition just printed may remain unsold when the compleat Edition is published – We continue to think that Terms somewhat similar to those we have already proposed would be most advantageous to all Parties – Suppose, for Instance, the Trustees were to fix upon any certain Number of Subscriptions, about which there would be little or no Risque, or Trouble, or Delay of Payment to create long Accounts, for us to supply Copies in Boards for that Number, free of Expence, and, further, to pay such Sum of Money as might be agreed upon – If some such Plan as this should not be acceptable to the Trustees, we will, of Course, meet them upon the Idea of a specific Sum merely – We are only fearful that unless the Subscribers are in a great Measure supplied by the Family, the Subscription must be out of the Question, for we think that the Subscribers would allow the Trustees to advance the Price and still take their Copies, whilst they would not do so with a Bookseller, and it would impossible to supply four 8↑vo↓ Volumes handsomely executed for a Guinea –
      As you express a Wish for a personal Interview on this Business, and as yourself and Mr Roscoe have both given up the Intention of visiting London soon, one of us will, with much Pleasure, contrive to pay you our Respects at Liverpool, for a Day or two, if it will in the smallest Degree tend to lessen the Trouble of the Business in which you have so benevolently engaged –
      We have received the Copies of the new Edition of the “Reports,” and have advertised it, and put it into Circulation, and hope to be able to give you a good Account of the Sale –
      Be pleased to present our kindest Respects to Mr Roscoe, and tell him we will have the Pleasure of writing to him very soon – We are, dear Sir,

           Your faithful and obedient Servants

                Cadell & Davies

London –
July 13, 1798 –

Notes :

"Reports": James Currie's Reports on the Effects of water in Febrile Disease (1797).

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