This letter also appears on the Victorian Web
This letter is a business communication, written by Alex. Geo. Milne in London to James Brand Esquire, Aberdeen, Scotland. I have not been able to discover what kind of business it was, but it was obviously quite large-scale if the sums of money mentioned are anything to go by.
The postal markings are very interesting, and the illustration shows :-
As a matter of interest, the figures written on the front '2/2' which has a line drawn through it, and substituted with '2/6' are the postage charges. The 2/2 is incorrect, as it is the rate for London to Edinburgh. This journey of 3 days was the standard time taken to cover the distance of 396 Miles from London to Edinburgh. But the letter was going beyond Edinburgh, to Aberdeen, which was 528 miles from London — and that was 1/3 for a single letter. However the letter had an enclosure, so it cost double the amount i.e. 2 shillings and 6d, plus the Additional ½d, which in this case, would have been paid by the addressee.
And now to the contents of the letter :-
London 2nd March 1815
My Dear Sir,
Your regarded favor of 13th ult to Alex came duly to hand and he has written you since to which I would beg to refer. The Bill for £4200 has been retired, but we must still beg your kind indulgence and assistance regarding the other about which Sandy will write on the other side — We have not got 1d (one penny) yet from these vile Leith People and really they seem disposed to take their own time without regard to our conduct towards them.
In business there is still a wonderful Dullness and even an impossibility of forcing sales, but cannot now long continue as the weather is now such as to open our communications with the Continent.
There is nothing I am so anxious for as to endeavour to realise and get matters once again into a comfortable train which I would fain hope cannot now require very long time.
I beg to be particularly remembered to Mrs & Miss Brand and always am with much regard
My Dear Sir
Very faithfully yours
Alex. Geo Milne
Then he has added this sentence:
I have sent to the whf (wharf) a small box of French Plumbs I beg Mrs Brand's acceptance of — I wish I knew any thing I could send would be more sa. (satisfactory?)
I checked on the use of the word 'retire' in this letter, and the Oxford English Dictionary has this definition :- 'retire (Finance), withdraw (bill, note) from operation or currency.'
On the inside of the letter in different writing (presumably by the 'Sandy' mentioned in the first paragraph), but it is not signed.
you have a note of Douglas Brown & Coy Glasgow which have the goodness to discount out & send me the proceeds.
If you will do me the favour to discount the inclosed draft (*) for £8004 & send me the proceeds to enable me to retire the one due 16th curt. (Current). I expect that this will not be necessary to have any renewal of it, if the Leith worthies come forward as they are expected to do and I can get any good Sales effected — - I have preferred this mode in preference as it will keep matters distinct and the other Bills you hold are not for any transaction in Business, but for your Security. If however there is any other arrangement you would prefer be so good as let me know and I shall do what you wish.
(*) This is the reason for the double postage rate.
When this letter was written Napoleon had just landed on the Coast of France having escaped from his imprisonment on the Island of Elba. For the next 100 days he raised an army in France & fought against the Allied Armies led by Wellington and Blucher, culminating in his defeat in June 1815 at Waterloo. So Mr Milne's hopes that business would improve now that communications with the Continent would be open after the winter, may well have proved false.
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