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 : 16-11-1800
Correspondent : James CurrieCorrespondent Location : Liverpool
Recipient : Cadell & Davies Recipient Location : London
Subject : Currie writes about the involvement of Gilbert Burns in a second edition, distributing some copies and reviews of the first edition.
Dear Sirs I hope the enclosed which I wish to form a third appendix to your first volume of Burns Works does not come too late – I think the letter of Gilbert Burns extremely va=luable & I am sure it will be re=ceived with great interest by the public. It will set off to advan=tage the new edition — Poor Gilbert wishes me to inter=cede with you for a few copies of the edition ¬–I have boldly promised that you will give him half a dozen – I wish also that you would make him a present of the Lounger + Mirror, and of the Monthly Ma=gazine for the present year – He is a great man & will yet be heard of in the world. He is besides an excellent fellow — The addition of this letter will swell the first volume (lessened by the o=mission of the list of subscribers) to a proper size, & justify your raising your price if you are so disposed — But I have not done – I must have, if you please, half a dozen copies for myself — Of these please to send one to Dr. C. Wells Salisbury Court, & one to his sister Miss Helena Wells ^ [different pen:] the authoress – One ^ [different pen:] also to Mr Wakefield in Dorchester jail, who has lately sent me his Lucre=tius in a present. & the other three please to send to me here – I will settle all accounts with you very soon — I wish you could find some means of con=veying to the British Critic how much I am pleased by the very superior article in it of the “Works ^[different pen:] of Burns” & how much I wish the writer would continue his ^ [different pen:] excellent observations — The Critical Review has likewise begun handsomely. The Monthly seems cold or at least silent. I enclose you a letter from the [?magnific]ent fellows Miekle and Stewart whom I leave to yr. discretion. In haste I have the honour to be yr. faithful friend & St JaCurrie

Notes :

Gilbert Burns: (1760-1827), Robert Burns’s brother who took issue with some of Currie’s character portrayal of the poet; in the event, however, he did little to alter the assessment in Currie’s biographical introduction for subsequent editions.

Dr Wells … Miss Helena Wells: William Charles Wells (1757-1817) Scottish-American doctor, biologist and printer; Helena Wells (?1761-1824), Anglo-American novelist resident in London from 1777.

Mr Wakefield in Dorchester jail … Lucretius: Gilbert Wakefield (1756-1801) oriental scholar, biblical critic and political radical. He was imprisoned for two years for a pamphlet defending the French Revolution and his edited work on Lucretius was published in 1796.

British Critic: the unsigned review was by Robert Nares and appeared in October 1800 [see Donald Low (ed.), Robert Burns, the Critical Heritage, pp.154-7].

The Critical Review: this London periodical for 1800 issued the first of two parts of a long review, see pp.402-9, finding Currie’s treatment ‘philosophical and convincing’ (p.403).

Miekle and Stewart: Meikle and Stewart, Glasgow publishers who were at this time printing previously unpublished works by Burns and representing an annoyance to Currie and his publishers.

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