Richmond 11 June 1866
Robert E. Lee
My dear sir:
When I last had the pleasure of seeing you in Richmond, you will remember
I proposed with your permission to write to our friend Mr Lawley on the subject
of publication of your contemplated ‘memoirs’ in England.
In consequence of your acquiescence, I wrote and have just received the
reply which I herewith transmit.
If I can in any way be serviceable in accomplishing your wishes, whatever
they may be, pray command me.
In reference to Mr Lawley’s remark respecting an English Editor, and
any alteration or retouching by him of the work, I would venture to suggest that
you adopt the idea, which undoubtedly is worthy of great consideration, all such
alterations or modifications should of course be made subject to your own
approval alone; as none but the author can properly judge of the effect of any
variation from the original text.
Hoping that the information obtained may be acceptable to you, I remain
With the highest respect and esteem
G. A. Myers
on reverse in General Lee’s handwriting:
11 June 1866
A. Myers – Encloses
from Mr Lawley
reference to an English
of Campaigns in
letter referred to in Mr. Myers’ letter follows:
May 25 1866
I received you delightful letter of Ap. 15 a few days ago, & in
scribbling those few lines to acknowledge & heartily to thank you for it.
I wish you to understand that I propose now to do nothing more than
simply to lose no time in replying to that portion of your letter which demands
immediate attention Of course, I refer to your inquiry respecting
Dear General Lee’s intended memoirs: in which you do me no more than justice
in believing that I take the warmest & historical interest. Very shortly after the receipt of your letter, I called upon
Mr Blackwood, the eminent Publisher of Edinburgh & of Postmaster Row; who
has, of all English Publishers but the firmest, truest, & most consistent of
friends to the Confederate cause. He,
immdy, upon my opening to him the subject which brought me into his presence,
expressed his entire wish to assist in any possible way, to be of service to
you, Sir, for whom he expressed a regard & admiration which would have done
credit within yourself or myself. But
he explained to me that for a foreigner to obtain by publishing a Book in
England the protection of Copyright
is a difficult thing. The position
is still undecided & at this moment upon this subject ‘--?—his est’;
but Blackwood thinks it undesirable for Gen. Lee to subject a Book which like
his will excite general interest in England to the war. Vanity & ambiguity which attaches at this moment to books
published under their circd…What Blackwood suggest is that Gen Lee should (as
you instruct to be his intention) just list his memoirs in America with the help
under the auspices of Richardson: & that he should simultaneously publish
the same memoirs in England, edited by an Englishman.
You or Southern --?—that all that Richardson could get by selling the
advanced sheets of Gen. Lee’s Book to an English publisher would be an
insignificant sum; say some $200 or $250 in gold:
Whereas by publishing as Blackwood suggests, an Editor for America
through Richardson & on Editors for England, through Blackwood & with
the protection of an English Editor for his work here.
The full price which such a Book would bring in America & also the
same in England – It is of course impossible for Blackwood to say without
having seen the Book & without any knowledge of its length, & nature
what price he is prepared to offer for it.
But I may safely assure you that for him could not trust himself to a
more high minded & honorable man than John Blackwood.
Whatever it is possible to give for the memoirs, viewed through the
kindest & most sympathetic of --?-- Blackwood
will I am assured, be prepared to give. I
hardly know whether to suggest that Sir Lee should have his Book copied out in
duplicate by hand or whether it would be better to --?--Richardson to forward
the first copy that is struck off to me here with a view to my communicating
with Blackwood. Of course if Gen
Lee entertains this proposal he should delay Richardson’s publication of the
book in America until an answer has been received from Blackwood after he has
seen the work. I hope that I have
made my self sufficiently intelligible: but
I ought not forget to --?—that Blackwood suggests that the English Editor it
be Lt. Col: Hamley, a well known & admirable writer & a gentleman of
high character, who has just published a Book on the Rules of War - & who is
one of the heartiest admirers of Gen: Lee that can any where be found.
Hamley might in some slight particulars alter & retouch the Book
without in the slightest degree transposing with the sense or facts; but so as
to adapt it rather more to the English
taste; but in this of course he ants to be guided by the wishes expressed by Gen
Lee or by yourself.
All that I would say in conclusion is, send the book to me either in
print or in M. S. without delay: & retard Richardson’s issue of it in
America until you have heard what Blackwood, after seeing it, will give for it
in England, protected by an English Editor.
You know what pleasure it will give me to be of the slightest aid to on
whom I respect & esteem Gen: Lee. The
enclosed letter from Benjamin just arrived will interest you.
My warm love to all and for your self.
Ever your very sincere Friend
This was a very difficult letter to read and I am sure there are some
errors. For that I apologize.
R. C Peniston 24 May 2002.