British Fiction, 18001829

SCOTT, Sir Walter. St Ronan's Well (1824)

Publishing Papers

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Longman and Dickinson.
11 Mar 1823.
[…] before a few months pass over a new Work of the Author of Waverley will be ready—and in all probability another begun—A. Cowan makes cheap and is your most formidable rival We cannot let a work that swallows up some 1,400 reams go to press—however without trying all quarters and buying low—In demy we honestly confess we cannot well go past you—and so we hope time will shew but in post others are very near you.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 75.
Notes: Addressed to the paper-making firm in London.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
13 May 1823.
Sir Walter has just been here in great glee—has begun the New—it is a Scotch story—I have just seen Ballantyne I fear the boggles are dormant in the mean time—when Ballantyne saw him he said ‘well James [398/398v] I have copy for you’. B said ‘is it the boggles Sir Walter or a new work’ ‘no no’ replied Sir W ‘’tis not the boggles I got no encouragement the offer was inadequate hout man ’tis no the boggles’.
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 398.
Notes: ‘The Boggles’ is evidently the rough title for a work on popular superstition projected by Scott in 1823, but not completed then; the scheme later found an outlet in his Letters on Demononolgy and Witchcraft (1830).

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
19 May 1823.
[...] about this day week Ballantyne had a letter from Sir Walter (in consequence of one of Jas Bs saying after Q[uentin] D[urward] was done he would have to pay off 20 men) saying ‘do not pay off any of your men—I shall give you new copy on my arrival in town’ […] [fol. 401] the Printer has 14 pages or about 1/5 [fifth] of Volume first of the new—and great progress promised—no name—and titles to the Chapters as formerly— // I doubt Sir W. will be easily turned aside from writing these books—I had a long crack with him on Thursday last—among other things he said they were no trouble to him—from systematic labour […]
Source E, MS 323, fols 400v-01.
Notes: Scott’s immediately preceding novel was Quentin Durward (EN2 1823: 74).

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
24 May 1823.
[…] the new work which goes on fast—30 pages of Copy in the hands of the Printer and it is like to Continue […].
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 403.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
28 May 1823.
[…] half Volume first of the new book is in the hands of the Printer […] [fol. 410v] the Author expects to make great progress before he leaves town—he writes a portion of it every day.
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 410.

Letter from Walter Scott to James Ballantyne.
[late May–early June? 1823].
I will be delighted to see you to-morrow with scrip and scrippage at breakfast-time. The resemblance between Lovel and Tyrrel is only that of situation. I have thoughts of making the tale tragic, having ‘a humour to be cruel’. It may go off, however, If not, it will be a pitiful tragedy, filled with the most lamentable mirth. I find I must have a peep at the revise of sheet c; or, stay, insert the following addition and corrections:—// Del. the alteration, line 2, p. 65, and stet as before, I wadna, etc. // P. 66, line 2, add—And Nanny, ye may tell them he has an illustrated poem—illustrated—mind the word, Nanny, that is to be stuck as fou o’ the likes o’ that as every turkey was larded wi’ slabs o’ bacon.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 29; also see Millgate #2183.
Notes: Undated; date conjectured from contents by Corson, 222. The letter was accompanied by proofs of the early chapters of the novel. Grierson notes that the passage quoted appears in slightly altered form in the first edn, vol. I, chap. 3, p. 66. Lovel is the young hero in The Antiquary (EN2 1816: 52).

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
17 June 1823.
[…] I shall state to him [Scott] with candour, that he must not stop with that [439/439v] in hand—he must not allow himself to be beaten or to appear beaten—he calculated on it being ready in August—I shall council to go on and finish it by Octr (V. I is almost done) […].
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 439.
Notes: Cadell is anticipating a meeting with Scott, the immediate context being the disappointing sales of Quentin Durward.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
18 June 1823.
[recording conversation between Ballantyne and Scott about Cadell’s plans] James B. repeated his and my conversation y[ester]day and on saying ‘Mr Cadell is quite decided’ he observed Sir Walter knit his brows and look as if displeased supposing perhaps that something disagreeable was coming—B went on ‘Mr C is quite decided as to you not stopping with the book now in progress but in place of finishing it in August finish it in October’ the Baronets face brightened up instantly and he said ‘that is exactly my own conclusion I shall write three sheets a week which is mere amusement to me—but between [this] and October I shall think of something else he said afterwards ‘I will not stop the Novels I may take them more leisurely, but we must have something [441/441v] else to make up the blank’ […].
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 441.

Letter from Archibald Constable to Robert Cadell.
21 June 1823.
I am glad the New Novel is not to be published till Oct being fully satisfied—that Summer & Autumn are not by any means the Season for publishing books—the best things may be over done. I need not say to you how long and how anxiously it has been my wish—that the Great Unknown should not come before the public quite so rapidly—there is however little harm done yet I trust the Stock on hand here of the last four is seriously large.
Source: E, MS 320, fol. 149.
Notes: Constable is writing from London.

Letter from Walter Scott to Archibald Constable.
21 Aug [1823].
You mentiond to me that an accommodation of £5000 could be had & such might be used in whole or in part to turn into cash the long dated bills which I mentiond as accruing to me upon [the] publication of St. Ronans.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 77; also see Millgate #2210.
Notes: Year is from the postmark. Material in square brackets appears as given in the printed source.

Letter from Walter Scott to Archibald Constable & Co.
23 Aug [1823].
I propose to have this present work out of hand by the end of October and propose you should then contract for another on the same terms the money to be applied to retire the same value of accommodation bills.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 79; also see Millgate #2211.
Notes: The present work is this novel. Year is from the docket.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Walter Scott.
27 Aug 1823.
We were yesterday favoured with your esteemed letter of 23rd Inst., and are happy to find that it is your determination to have the work (now at press) ready in October in excellent time for publication and in other important respects would answer all purposes. // The reductions of the bills already alluded to will be attended with mutual advantage. It can be done gradually and to suit your wishes or arrangements, and we shall most readily agree to the contract you propose on the completion of St. Ronan’s.
Source: E, MS 677, fol. 91; also in ACLC, III, 285–86 with errors. Also see Millgate #5039.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
6 Sept 1823.
It appears to me that 9,500 books and no more ought to be printed of the remainder of that now at press—it is not the paper & printing only but the 1/3 of 500 in addition that we have to pay for. Robinson [of Hurst & Robinson] will gladly sell one of these books every 5 or 6 months—and the trade to day are all asking for a new one—but it is clear that we overprint […] Robinson thinks the anxiety of the public for these books is as high as ever—but there are so many thousand readers who have them in sets that the sale of the first editions are diminished by those who wait—or get a reading till a connected series appears—the author is higher than ever—and if we only print prudently his books will be good books to us & all connected with them.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 22n.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
6 Sept 1823.
I find Hurst & Cos stock of Quentin [464v/465] Durward is 1340 Copies—the announcement a few days since was a new edition which they subscribed, and sold 100 Copies—so that our Stock of 570 added to the above making at this date 1900 books—it appears to me that 9,500 books and no more ought to be printed of the remainder of that now at press […].
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 464v-65.
Notes: Cadell is writing from London. The sales figures relate to Quentin Durward.

Letter from Archibald Constable to Robert Cadell.
9 Sept 1823.
St Ronans advances & the next after it is already chalked out […].
Source: E, MS 320, fol. 161.
Notes: The letter is dated from Edinburgh, and refers to a meeting with Scott over the previous weekend.

Letter from Rober Cadell to Archibald Constable.
10 Sept 1823.
[re dealings with Hurst, Robinson & Co.] I dare say we shall come to close quarters about 1500 Gazetteer and the New Novel—I shall probably send you the agreements on Friday.
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 466v.
Notes: The following Friday was 12 Sept. The other Constable publication mentioned is presumably The Edinburgh Gazetteer; or, Compendious Geographical Dictionary (1824).

Letter from Walter Scott to Archibald Constable.
[14 Sept 1823].
I send you two proofs and a lot of copy. […] The work is about half finishd or more.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 88; also see Millgate #2218.
Notes: Letter is dated Sunday; Grierson dates 14 Sept from contents.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Black, Young & Young.
19 Sept 1823.
With this we send you Volume 1st Complete of the New Work by the Author of Waverley we hope before 10 days pass to send the half of Volume 2d [4 words illeg.] We arranged with your Mr Young for the sheets of this work on the same terms as its predecessors.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 146 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to the firm in London, and presumably concerning the sending of advance copy for translation into German.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Keys & Co.
19 Sept 1823.
[concerning arrival of post sized paper ‘for the Work now at press’].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 147 (copy).
Notes: Keys & Co were paper-makers situated at Abchurch Lane in London; the letter is addressed to the firm in London, and evidently concerns paper for St Ronan’s Well.

Letter from Walter Scott to James Ballantyne.
[21 Sept 1823].
I sent you a bill & proofs &c from Lanark which doubtless you had. I now return sheet C. but beg to insist that in future the sheets be sent in order for Sheet D was that which I returnd from Lanark. My difficulties are greatly increased by the proofs not being [88/89] returnd in order of reading and I beg they may be so sent in future. I send you also a lot of copy. […] [postscript] I mentiond you might send proofs under the weight of 2 oz (two penny-pieces) under Mr Roses cover. It will prevent mistakes to put them under an inner cover to me. Your name Jas. Ballantyne on the outside. Divide into two when one will not serve.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 88–89; also see Millgate #2219.
Notes: Letter is dated Sunday night; Grierson dates 21 Sept from contents.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to John Miller.
22 Sept 1823.
With this we send you 3 Copies of Volume first of the New Work by the Author of Waverley in conformity with the conversation our Mr Cadell had with you, that is, on the same terms as those you have had in a similar way // We have to enjoin the utmost privacy in forwarding these books in order to avoid all the Annoyances that occurred with Quentin Durward // We hope ere long to send you the half of Vol II & the remainder of the work proceeds.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 148 (copy).
Notes: Addressed Miller in London, and presumably concerning the sending of advance copy to North America.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Keys & Co.
28 Oct 1823.
[…] you have sent us 1304 reams of the Post above our orders consequently this quantity remains in Mr Ballantynes Printing office at your risk […] [considerable detail about quantity and price for post paper follows] [p. 161] we shall now state for your Consolation, that so soon as the present Work on which the Post is using, is done which we hope will be next month Another will commence and on it we shall proceed to use your over plus paper as we need it.
Source: E, MS 792, pp. 160–61 (copy).
Notes: The next work anticipated is Scott’s Redgauntlet (EN2 1824: 83).

Letter from John Grieve to George Boyd.
2 Nov 1823.
When is the Spae Wife forthcoming? I doubt the ‘great Unknown’ and your author will come in contact just now, for I see another from the former is on the eve of publication.
Source: E, Acc 5000/191.
Notes: John Grieve (1781–1836), then retired from an Edinburgh hat-making business, was an author and friend of James Hogg. The letter is addressed to Boyd at Anderson’s Coffee House, Fleet Street. Given the timing of this letter, it is likely that Grieve is referring to St Ronan’s Well, which was advertised as ‘this day published’ on 27 Dec 1823 in the Edinburgh Evening Courant. John Galt’s The Spaewife (EN2 1823: 35) was published by Oliver & Boyd in Dec 1823.

Letter from [George Boyd] to John Galt.
20 Nov 1823.
I received your returned letter dated the 15 current, and am happy to observe that you are nearly finished with the Spaewife—and in consequence of the materials that you have sent me—operations have commenced. I hope you will get the start of Scott.
Source: E, Acc 5000/188 (copy).
Notes: This copy of the letter is written on the reverse of a letter from Boyd to his nephew George Thornton, also dated 20 Nov 1823. Thornton appears to have superintended the publishing business in Edinburgh when Boyd was away.

Letter from George Thornton to George Boyd.
24 Nov 1823.
Mr Galt expects to be able to send you proof copies of the Spaewife by Saturday or Monday we are much beset, as Scott’s Novel will be out about the end of the month and Blackwood’s new novel soon after, but we will not lose a moment so hurry on the printing.
Source: E, Acc 5000/190.
Notes: Letter is addressed to Boyd at Anderson’s Coffee House, Fleet Street, London. ‘Blackwood’s new novel’ is Percy Mallory (EN2 1824: 51).

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to James Mitchell.
26 Nov 1823.
We fear that St Ronans Well will hardly be ready at the time your leaving London but it shall be forwarded.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 172 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to ‘James Mitchell Esq of Heidelburg (London)’.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Keys & Co.
28 Nov 1823.
[…] all that we can say with certainty is this the work of the Author of Waverly [sic] now in progress is nearly done A new One will Commence Shortly after, on this work about to commence we shall use the paper you have sent over our order as far as the work will require it which will be somewhere about 1200 Reams.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 173 (copy).

Letter from Walter Scott to James Ballantyne.
[early Dec 1823].
I was pretty well aware that the inclosed is either a hit or a miss. I am glad you think it the former. // I do not think of an introduction. I do not want to tie myself down to give one always. // The title page may bear for motto the lines of Wordsworth // A merry place he said in days of yore. / But something ails it now—the place is cursed. // You can look at the exact words in the poem of Hartleap [sic] Well. // I inclose some more sheets & want copy to send off to [Daniel] Terry. I think he would have more real advantage seeing it all together a week or two before the public has it than in detail. [postscript] There are but two or three pages more.
Source: Grierson, VIII, 123; also see Millgate # 2238.
Notes: Corson, 227, supplies the date as Dec; the following entries indicate a likely date of mid–Dec since Scott here refers to sending sheets. The novel is being sent to Terry for a dramatic adaptation.

Letter from William Blackwood to Thomas Cadell jun.
2 Dec 1823.
I wrote you by post last night, and I now send you a copy of Percy Mallory in order that you may subscribe it without delay. St Ronans Well is not expected for 10 or 12 days and therefore it is necessary to push P. M. as much as possible in the mean time.
Source: E, MS 30301, p. 302 (copy).
Notes: ‘P. M.’ is Percy Mallory.

Letter from George Thornton to George Boyd.
4 Dec 1823.
We send a copy of the Spaewife to Messrs W[hittaker] by tonight’s mail. Percy Mallory is published here. Scott’s Novel is expected by Christmas so the Spaewife should be subscribed immediately.
Source: E, Acc 5000/190.

Letter from Joseph Ogle Robinson to Archibald Constable.
6 Dec 1823.
[Concerning publication of the novel, and his own efforts and concerns regarding sales].
Source: E, MS 326, fols 348–51.
Notes: Cover is marked ‘private’.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Hurst, Robinson & Co.
9 Dec 1823.
We have yours as to St Ronan’s Well from it we would suppose […] that we were to dispatch a large supply to London to meet you in the Market you know as well as we that no mode of publication changes the orders sent to London or Edin by country Booksellers and as to publishing in Edinb we shall not circulate a sheet until we hear of the arrival of the Book in London as to Retail Booksellers, that can only apply to London where the field is your own […] look at Quentin Durward you and us published in London & Edinburgh on the same day and did 1000 more of it sell on that account? all the country orders are in London and in Edinburgh immoveable and unchangeable so how is it possible that any difference can take place? [issue of country and Irish copies then follows] [p. 177] so far as we can see at present we think we shall ship you 7000 Copies on this day week […].
Source: E, MS 792, pp. 176–77 (copy).

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
10 Dec 1823.
[reference to contract for St Ronan’s Well].
Source: E, MS 323, fol. 471v.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to E. Weatherstone.
12 Dec 1823.
Publication of St Ronan’s Well shall be delayed in Scotland until about the time calculated for their arrival in London—To send you Copies by the mail direct would therefore be to act against this arrangement […] We ship them about the 16th Instant.
Source: E, MS 792, p. 179 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Weatherstone (probably Edward) in Oxford. The letter refuses a draft for six copies and suggests that an order be placed with Hurst, Robinson & Co, ‘our Agents in London’.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Hurst, Robinson & Co.
13 Dec 1823.
[…] we do not see any doubt of being able to ship you 7000 St Ronans well on Tuesday the 16th, & you may now, we think, calculate accordingly […] we think we shall have a letter from you about the 25th or 26th so as to Publish on the 27th, but as to Edinr we once more say we care not one farthing […].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 179 (copy).

Letter from George Thornton to George Boyd.
[14 Dec 1823].
[The letter primarily concerns The Spaewife.] I understand Scott’s Novel will be published by the end of this week. They were packing for London yesterday.
Source: E, Acc 5000/190.
Notes: Letter is dated from postmark; it is only dated ‘Sunday morning’. Letter is sent to Boyd at Anderson’s Coffee House, Fleet Street, London.

Letter from Robert Cadell to Archibald Constable.
15 Dec 1823.
[about shipping and sales of St Ronan’s Well] As to 7500—you said Robinson must suppose that we can ship this number that boat[?]. the book was only finally at press on Thursday at 3 oclock— it is a great deal to have 7000 ready to night as the tide is early tomorrow […] [fol. 475] it is surely better to send 7000 than to wait 7500—and cause three days delay.
Source: E, MS 323, fols 474v-75.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to David Gourlay.
16 Dec 1823.
[concerning insurance for ‘£2016 on the 72 Bales shipped this day on board your Companys Smack The King George’].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 181 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Captain Gourlay at Leith.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to John Gillies.
17 Dec 1823.
[sending bales to Glasgow to be shipped on to Belfast, with directions not to open them ‘till Wednesday next’].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 181 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Gillies at Belfast; the following Wednesday was 24 Dec.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Mr Bolster.
20 Dec 1823.
[cannot respond to his order, since ‘our Irish [copies] were dispatched on the 17th and those for London on the preceding day and there being no Irish Steam boat till the 26th Instant’].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 182 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Cork, where John Bolster was a bookseller.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Hodges & McArthur.
24 Dec 1823.
[concerning invoice for and despatch of St Ronan’s Well].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 183 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to the firm in Dublin.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Charles P. Archer.
24 Dec 1823.
[concerning invoice for and despatch of St Ronan’s Well].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 183 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Archer in Dublin.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Richard Milliken.
24 Dec 1823.
[concerning invoice for and despatch of St Ronan’s Well].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 183 (copy).
Notes: Milliken was a bookseller in Dublin.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to John Cumming.
24 Dec 1823.
[concerning invoice for and despatch of St Ronan’s Well].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 183 (copy).
Notes: Cumming was a bookseller in Dublin.

Letter from Hurst, Robinson & Co to Archibald Constable & Co.
29 Dec 1823.
The King George arrived yesterday (Sunday) and about 10 O’Clock in the Evening the Bales arrived in Cheapside and by working all night and having all the Binders we could persuade to Work at their posts by One O’Clock this Morning we have contrived to deliver every Order both to Town & Country […].
Source: E, MS 326, fol. 357.

Letter from Basil Steuart to William Blackwood.
31 Jan 1824.
St Ronans Well is not considered one of the authors best works by the generality of readers—The Scotch people will understand it better [135/135v] than the English. I find it so with us.
Source: E, MS 4013, fol. 135.
Notes: Basil Steuart was a London Bookseller (BBTI).

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Richard Milliken.
25 Mar 1824.
[requesting payment for ‘St Ronan’s Well sent 24 Decr last’].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 245 (copy).
Notes: Addressed to Milliken in Dublin.

Letter from Archibald Constable & Co to Hurst, Robinson & Co.
15 Dec 1824.
[224 copies on their hands].
Source: E, MS 792, p. 376 (copy).

Letter from Henry Thomson to William Blackwood.
30 Dec 1824.
[…] even Scott, with all [246v/247] unusual power failed in his people of Fashion in St Ronans Well entirely—the matter was not ill—but it was trite & worn out.
Source: E, MS 4013, fols 246v-47.
Notes: Thomson signs ‘Titus’ which was his pen-name for contributions to Blackwood’s Magazine.

Letter from Robert Cadell to George Boyd.
27 Feb 1827.
In consequence of what passed on Saturday evening, I submit the following to you, viz / [...] 450 Redgauntlet / 450 St Ronan’s Well / 140 Peveril of the Peak [...] You could have all of them very low. I think you could get them off by means of your traveller.
Source: E, Acc 5000/193.
Notes: Redgauntlet is EN2 1824: 83; Peveril of the Peak is EN2 1822: 67.

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