MS: Letter from Alexander Fraser Tytler to Robert Burns, dated Edinburgh, 21 October 1792

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Author 
Object Number:


Alexander Fraser Tytler was a lawyer and Professor of History at Edinburgh University as well as being a minor poet and essayist. He was later the Judge-Advocate of Scotland.

In 1792, Burns's publisher William Creech was preparing a second Edinburgh edition of Burns's Poems, for which Burns had provided an additional 50 pages of material. Burns had instructed Alexander Tytler in Edinburgh to handle the interface and proof reading with Creech.

In the first page, Tytler explains that he has taken so long to reply to Burns's last letter on account of the serious illness of his wife who has been bed-ridden for eight weeks and is only now out of danger.

Tytler then gives Burns feedback on his new material, commending Burns on the improvements made to his Epistle to Robt. Graham Esq: of Fintry, considering it ’far superior’. He also likes the ‘Elegy on Capt. Matthew Henderson’, with its contrasts being ‘highly pleasing’.

The final part of the letter is devoted to a report on the progress of the printing which is slow. He confirms that Creech has agreed the terms by which he will give Burns a number of free copies for his friends. Tytler then observes that the number has not been agreed, hoping that there will be no dispute should Burns want more than Creech is prepared to offer. He does agree to arbitrate if it should become necessary.

The letter has been docketed by Robert Burns and Dr James Currie, Burns's first biographer.

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