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 : 01-06-1799
Correspondent : A RCorrespondent Location : Edinburgh
Recipient : James Currie Recipient Location : Liverpool
Subject : ‘AR’ writes to suggest that Currie’s edition should be hurried along.


I understand that the publication of Burns’ posthumous Works depends upon you, and that it is delayed solely by the want of his Life which you have undertaken to write — If this is the fact you are certainly to blame as I believe the less that is known of his private history, the better for his fame and for the World, Besides his family is in poverty and a small sum well applied in their Education at present may be of much greater use to them than much more money at a future period — But I am afraid the real cause of [catchword] of this unfortunate delay is an infamous maneouvre of some Book sellers who have lately published a new Edition of Burns’ poems — I trust you will be at the bottom of this matter and will strenuously exert yourself in defeating any such conspiracy —— As your name is involved you owe it to your own character to have the business explained —— An Admirer of Jasper Wilson


Notes :

his family is in poverty: Currie’s edition was designed so that profits from it would go to Burns’s family.

some Book sellers who have lately published a new Edition of Burns’ poems: the firm of Stewart & Meikle of Glasgow had been publishing new material by Burns in the late 1790s; Thomas Stewart eventually published his Poems Ascribed to Robert Burns in 1801, though had been advertising this since at least August 1800.

Jasper Wilson: pen-name of Currie when he published his A letter, commercial and political : addressed to the Rt. Honble. William Pitt, in which the real interests of Britain in the present crisis are considered, and some observations are offered on the general state of Europe (London, 1793).

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