MACPHERSON (JAMES) Autograph letter signed ("J M"), to his publisher Thomas Cadell, [?1775]
Lot 61*
MACPHERSON (JAMES) Autograph letter signed ("J M"), to his publisher Thomas Cadell, [?1775]
Sold for £437 (US$ 686) inc. premium

Lot Details
MACPHERSON (JAMES)
Autograph letter signed ("J M"), to his publisher Thomas Cadell, demanding that he be more discrete: "I shall call, some time, to day and fix half-an-hour. If you can keep the conversation of Yesterday, from every second person, things will go on more expeditiously, safely and smoothly"; and complaining that his book-binder has "placed the last chapter of the 1st Volume at the end of the second" ("...I, therefore, return the copy you sent me Yesterday; and shall bind one of my own..."); autograph address leaf ("Mr Cadell/ Bookseller/ opposite Catherine street/ Strand"), seal, one page, dated in pencil in a modern hand "1775", tipped onto an album leaf, 8vo, "Thursday morning" [?1775]

Footnotes

  • MACPHERSON ON A LITERARY CONTROVERSY: the young Macpherson had been introduced by David Hume to Cadell's partner William Strahan in 1761, soon after publishing the first Ossian fragments. Our letter was possibly written in 1775 when Cadell & Strahan published two works by Macpherson, Original Papers Containing the Secret History of Great Britain and The History of Great Britain from the Restoration to the Accession of the House of Hanover. In the latter he alleged that some of the great Whig heroes had intrigued with France, and, even before publication, one sarcastic commentator enquired whether this, too, was translated from the Erse. A letter to Cadell of April 1775, very similar to ours in its layout, is quoted by Bailey Saunders, in which Macpherson attributes the attacks to 'the malignity of the Johnsonians' and asks him to place a reply in the newspapers after destroying the original so as to make sure his authorship remained hidden (The Life and Letters of James Macpherson, 1894, p. 230). Cadell & Strahan were also publishers that year of Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands with its famous denunciation of Ossian and Macpherson's probity; and were accordingly a conduit for Macpherson's famously unsuccessful demand that Johnson moderate his views. Both of Macpherson's books were issued in two volumes, and so may be the misbound work our letter refers to; indeed, the way in which it is couched does suggest that he is the author of the book under discussion.
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