« PreviousContinue »
been acknowledged, but that I have been this last week much hurried in business.
printed in Nichols' Illustrations of Literature, vol. iii. p. 673; and, as it is necessary for rightly understanding the present, I here subjoin a copy of it.
"Knightsbridge, Nov. 28, 1782.
"Mr. Pinkerton's compliments wait on Mr. Nichols; he mentioned to Mr. Nichols his intention of giving a second volume of Scottish Ballads, consisting of a selection of those of the comic kind, to be published along with the second edition of the Tragic Ballads, which will form a complete work in its way. But, upon considering the matter, he perceives it will be attended with very considerable labor and loss of time, which might, perhaps, be employed to much greater advantage, even if he does receive some little pecuniary recompence for his trouble. Without a previous agreement therefore, upon a reasonable value being given for the manuscript, he cannot think of undergoing the fatigue of putting his materials in order, and of carrying on a correspondence in various parts of Scotland, which must be done to procure every necessary assistance.
To give Mr. Nichols some slight idea of the plan, he will please to be informed, that the volume will commence with a dissertation on the Comic Ballads, in which it is hoped some new lights will be thrown on pastoral, amatorial, and humourous poetry, all which heads fall properly under the general subject. Then will follow a selection of ballads in this style, all which will be given with a correctness not yet known in any collection of the kind; and among them will appear about a dozen never published. The work will conclude with notes and a glossary. Such will be the proposed volume, which shall be of the same size with the other; and Mr. Pinkerton imagines, that, if a thousand copies are printed, the half of the profits of the last volume will be a fair price. A thousand copies at 2s. 6d. will be 1257., of which allow 257. for expence, the half of the residue will be 501., which Mr. Pinkerton would look upon as at least some little compensation for his trouble. Mr. Nichols may let him know in answer his own sentiments; but, whether this is agreed on or not, Mr. Pinkerton will, with very great
Such a collection as you speak of I should be glad to see published, and would with much pleasure be the instrument of handing it to the world. Your proposals, Sir, are very fair; but, unluckily, they are founded on a wrong calculation. Half the profit of an impression of 1000 copies you are fairly entitled to; and I should think this on both sides an equitable stipulation. But you will please to recollect that the 1000 copies are not sold by the printer at 2s. 6d. but with large deductions to the booksellers, who retail them, and also for sewing up, advertising, &c. In short, if I printed 1000 copies, I should be glad to dispose of them all at 1s. 6d. each; nor (expenses deducted) can they be set at
You have now, Sir, the fair calculation; and, if you think it worth embarking in, I am ready to print the book, and put the copies in the hands of any third person, to sell them on our joint account, and account to us justly for profit. Or, if you choose them to be mine at a certainty, I will pay you twenty guineas in a month after the book is completed at the press. I am sensible this offer is inadequate to what the performance will intrinsically deserve; yet am certain it is as much
pleasure, revise the second edition of the Tragic Ballads, and do every thing else in his power for Mr. Nichols' interest."
as can be afforded.
I am much obliged by your
kind offer to superintend the Tragic Ballads, and shall take the liberty to trouble you with them. when they pass again through the press.
THE BISHOP OF DROMORE TO MR.
Carlisle, Jan. 3rd, 1783.
I received your very obliging letter, but unluckily mislaid it, as soon as it was perused, so that I only answer it from what I remember of the contents.
I am exceedingly glad that I have it in my power to oblige you, on the subject of the old poem of King James I. of Scotland, intitled Peblis to the Play; of which, by good luck, I have the transcript here; for, in general, I have left in Northamptonshire whatever collections I had formerly made of this sort. And, indeed, my studies and attention have so long been directed to other objects, that I should not easily have come at this, if I had not had this copy with me. I formerly told you, that I had laid it by for my son (in case he chose to be editor of some supplemental volumes of the Reliques), or, if he should decline it, for a very poetical nephew of mine. You will, I hope, excuse it, therefore, if, whenever either of them undertakes a work of that sort, they should reprint this old poem, which in the interim is at your service to be inserted in any publication of yours.
I send you the copy I made myself from the old manuscript, wherein alone it is preserved. The transcript is faithfully and correctly made. I hope, therefore, you will print it without any conjectural emendations, at least in the text; and, if you propose any, you will confine them to the margin or your notes. Confronting my manuscript with the text, you will see notes Variorum, viz. of myself and also my friends, out of which, I believe, such a commentary may be gathered as will explain every obsolete phrase and obscure passage. When have made such use of it as is necessary for your intended work, I will beg you to deliver safely to me, whenever demanded for the use above mentioned, this old transcript and notes. If you think it necessary to mention in print, that you received this old piece from me, I will beg you only to quote me by the name of Dr. Percy, or rather the Editor of the Reliques of ancient Poetry, in 3 vols.; omitting Rev., much more all mention of my present title, &c. And, if necessary, you may speak of my slight poetical pursuits, as what had been the amusement of my younger years and hours of relaxation from severer studies, which, in truth, they were, as it is more than twenty years since the three volumes of Reliques, &c. were collected for the press, and even nineteen years since they were printed. And I have been so entirely drawn off from this subject by other unavoidable and necessary avocations, that Dodsley is, I believe, reprinting the book, without my being able to peruse or look at a single
sheet or page in it. I am very glad your former volume has been so well received.
LORD HAILES* TO MR. PINKERTON.
Newhailes in Edinburgh, Jan. 14th, 1783.
All men engaged in literary pursuits ought to consider themselves as acquainted; so you need not have made any apology for your letter, because I have not the pleasure of being personally known to you. I cannot recollect what you mention, of my having given some notes to Bishop Percy on the subject of Scottish poems : it must have happened many years ago; and a great variety of family disasters, that have intervened, has, no doubt, made me forget it.
To publish any notes with my name, which I have forgotten, would be disagreeable: in the common intercourse of life one is apt to make an extempore answer to a friend; and queries hastily
* Sir David Dalrymple of Hailes, Bart., one of the senators of the College of Justice at Edinburgh. This very eminent lawyer and historian is generally known by his official name of Lord Hailes, a title he assumed, according to a custom of the Scotch court, upon being appointed one of the judges. His father was Sir James Dalrymple of Hailes, his mother a daughter of the Earl of Haddington. His Annals of Scotland, and · Disquisitions concerning the antiquity of the Christian era, are works most deservedly esteemed; and few men have left behind them a more enviable character. He died in 1808.