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 : 26-08-1801
Correspondent : James CurrieCorrespondent Location : Liverpool
Recipient : Cadell & Davies Recipient Location : London
Subject : Currie writes about the publishers’ silence.
Gentlemen Some time ago I wrote to you a letter accompanying the corrected copy of the three last volumes of the Works of Burns for the new edition – I at the same time wished to know when the first volume would be required. To this I have no reply. In this letter I mentioned in confidence a literary undertaking, for your opinion — As I have abandoned all thoughts of such a work, at least for the present, I do not regret that you have been silent on the subject. I took the liberty of asking the fa=vour of your receiving & forwarding my copy of the philosophical transactions, seve=ral volumes of which are in arrears; if this be inconvenient, have the goodness to say so freely, & I will apply to some other quarter. At the annual election in July 1800, I went out of the Committee of Athenaeum, <> <> by lot – At the last election (July 1801) I was re-elected, and on the going out of Mr Case by rotation, have been appointed President – At the meeting of the Committee on the 4th instant, a considerable number of modern works were voted, and the whole order was sent to you, by Dr Bostock, the secre=tary appointed in the place of Dr Rutter. At the same time <> <> request was made to you to furnish us regularly and as early as possible with all the Reviews and magazines contained in a list which was inlcosed – These have hitherto been forwarded to us later than to private individuals, & in other respects irregularly, and it has become an object with the subscribers to get them as speedily as possible — As Dr. Bostocks letter has not been answered by you, & as the beginning of another month is at hand, it is important to know whether we can depend on your undertaking this com=mission — My absence from the Committee does not enable me to speak with perfect infor=mation respecting the changes that have taken place in the mode of supplying the Books. I understand however that the new works have been furnished, by par=ticular order, in sheets — you will however see that this last list is directed to be sent in Boards, as usual — & in regard to those modern books, we hope you can execute orders with little delay — If there is any thing in this business that in any respect you wish altered be so good as to mention it in a pri=vate letter ^to me – But have the goodness to write speedily, as our next monthly meeting is at hand – I am Dear Sirs Yr obedt St Ja Currie

Notes :

Athenaeum: originally, the temple of Athene, then the name of college of higher education founded by the Emperor Hadrian, c.133; revived as name for literary institutions. Liverpool Athenaeum developed from activities of Liverpool Literary Society; plans drawn up, 1797, and premises opened in Church St., 1799. Funded by subscription, it had Currie and Roscoe as founder members. Currie alludes to it in his letter to Cadell & Davies, 27 June 1799.

Case: George Case was to follow Rutter and Bostock as President of the Athenaeum.

Bostock: Dr Bostock was to succeed Rutter as President of the Athenaeum.

Rutter: John Rutter was to become President of the Athenaeum.

back to search