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 : 08-11-1802
Correspondent : Dugald StewartCorrespondent Location : Edinburgh
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : Dugald Stewart describes his business and asks about Currie's health. He describes his biography of Dr. Reid.
My dear Sir,

          It was with sincere pleasure that I again saw your hand-writing, after so very long a blank in our correspondence. I am afraid that it has failed chiefly on my side, having often had occasion to admire your punctuality in the midst of your professional engage-:ments - And yet, I think if <[?]> you knew all the history of my life, I might trust my apology, to your good nature. The fact is, that a con-:currence of accidents has, for some years past, oppressed me with a load of business, both publick & private, far beyond the measure of my spirits & constitution, and has interrupted at once my intercourse with my friends, & the progress of my favourite studies. - I was in hopes very lately of paying a flying visit to Liverpool; but, as some unavoidable circumstances rendered it impossible for Mrs. Stewart to accompany me, I determined to lay <[?]> aside thoughts of that long wished for gratification, till we shall be able to enjoy it together,
          I was truly sorry to hear that you had been induced by indisposition to spend part of this season at Buxton; but, as you do not allude to this in your letter, I trust that your health is now re-established. From some circumstances which were mentioned to me by Mr. Graham of Glasgow, I suspect, that I myself am no stranger to your disorder, having been occasionally distressed, since the age of 19 or 20, with violent palpitations & a tendency to Asthma. I was plagued with both complaints a good deal, during the first part of my last excursion to England, but have been quite well for several weeks. – Symptoms of this sort have been for many years so familiar to me, that I have long ceased to mention them to any medical friends; but I am not without hopes, that I may, on some future occasion, profit by your advice & experience as a fellow-sufferer.
          I shall send you in a week or two an account of the Life & Writings of Dr. Reid, of which I have corrected ↑for the press↓ the last sheet this morning.-
          I need not say, that it will give me great pleasure to pay every attention to Mr. Percival who seems, from the little I have seen of him, to be a very amiable & promising young man, and who, independently of his own merits, bears a name that must secure him a welcome reception wherever he goes.
          The last letter I recollect to have written to you was ↑in Summer 1800,↓ to thank you for the pleasure I received from your invaluable life of Burns, but as it was sent by a private hand (the Honble Mr. Ward who wished for the pleasure of your acquaintance) I have sometimes suspected that it may never have reached you. The shortness of Mr. Ward’s <[?]> stay at Liverpool prevented him, as I afterwards learned, from calling at your house, and it is not impossible that he may have put my letter into the fire, conceiving it to be merely a card of introduction. I certainly ought, long before this time, to have enquired about the fact.

Mrs. Stewart begs her best respects to yourself & to Mrs. Currie - and I ever am, with the truest regard, my dear sir, yours most faithfully


If Mr. Houldbrooke is at present at Liverpool, Mrs. <[?]> Stewart & I request to be very kindly remembered to him. I hope his friend Mr. Rath-:bone has got the better of his late indisposition.

Dr. James Currie Physician Liverpool From Prof. D. Stewart Edinb. 8 Nov 1802

Notes :

Derbyshire spa town, 25 miles SSE of Manchester, renowned for its calcareous and chalybeate springs, beneficial in the treatment of digestive, rheumatic, nervous, and cutaneous disorders.

Mrs Stewart:
Helen D’Arcy Stewart, nee Cranstoun (1765-1838): second wife of Dugald Stewart, married 29 July 1790. Poet most of whose work is in the manner of the popular ballads of the time. Several of her poems appeared in the Scottish Musical Museum, vol. 4 (1792) and one, ‘The tears I shed must ever fall’, was praised by Burns who had contributed lines to it.

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