26 November [1805]

John Aikin, Stoke Newington, to Mary Hays, [9] St. Georges Place, Camberwell, 26 November [1805].1


Dear Madam

       Though as you will see by the date, it is some time since I received the enclosed from Mr Phillips, yet I was able to see him in town only two days since & I was on the point of writing to you when yours arrived.

      I own I feel considerable perplexity in settling the affair on account of the great & unexpected excess of your MS above the quantity directed. Mr P. says that it is essential to the success of this work that it should come within two volumes, which will make it absolutely necessary that the part you have written should be much abridged. He does not wish to be exact about a few pages, but cannot possibly allot room for so large a superfluity. What then can be done upon the principle of my award but to reduce it within the stated limits, & be content to lose in proportion.2

       Mr Johnson, to whom I stated the case, & who perfectly approved the award, sees the difficulty in the same light, & thinks it would be unjust that Phillip’s should pay for what he cannot lose ^use^ without altering his whole plan. I see therefore nothing to be done, but that you should send back for the M.S. & fit it as well as you can to the compass prescribed, after which I think there will be no difficulty to bring the matter to a speedy settlement.

       I return Mr P’s paper of directions as a voucher for the justness of the consolation, & remain

                         Dear Madam

                                     Yours very sincerely

                                                J. Aikin

Stoke Newingt. 

Nov. 26.


Address: Miss Hays | St George’s Place | Camberwell

Postmark: 26 November 1805, 4 o’clock.

Penny Post Unpaid

1 Misc. Ms. 2151, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 340-41.

2 The work will appear in three volumes, not two, so Hays may well have had her way in this matter and published the bulk of her material despite Phillips’s misgivings.