The New York Tribune for November 12, 1847, carried the following two letters in the ongoing scuffle between Carey & Hart and Baker & Scribner, the first so much blather from Headley, and the second from his publisher:
NEW-YORK, Nov. 11.
To the Editors of the Tribune:
Messrs. Carey & Hart, having seen fit to extend their defence to The Tribune, I beg leave to make the following statement, which I trust will be final, and ask the few who care anything about this matter to read it candidly. I must state also at the outset that I have been dragged unwillingly before the public by these men, and forced into a defence, when if they had told the simple truth I should have needed none. Now what is the root of all this trouble and outcry? Carey & Hart wished to publish a book for me, which I chose to give to another house. I never made a contract with them—I never made a verbal promise—I never offered them a book—I never even promised to inform them of my plans, or expressed a wish to make an arrangement with them. They wrote me a courteous letter, requesting the book. I replied courteously, complimenting their house, for which at the time I had the highest respect, but not committing myself in any way. On this they commenced their crusade; first, by showing around the city the correspondence between them and my publishers and me, and endeavoring to get the opinions of the trade in their favor, and thus frighten my publishers into a relinquishment of their claim. Next, by publishing a book as nearly like mine, in form, size, external getting up and title, as they well could. All this flattering notice of me I, of course, appreciated, yet could not but wonder at their folly. Not satisfied with this, they endeavored in the introduction to their work, to prove that I had wronged them—nay, stolen from them their own property. The following extract from my letter to the Courier & Enquirer will explain all this:
To the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer:
GENTLEMEN—As I have been unwillingly dragged before the public by a portion of the press, and accused of dishonesty in the publication of my “Washington and his Generals,” will you do me the favor to allow a word of explanation in your columns? Messrs. Carey & Hart of Philadelphia, having issued a work bearing a similar title and copied after mine in form, size, binding, &c. so closely that no one can doubt their intentions. In doing this they have found it necessary, in order to exculpate themselves, to assail me with heavy charges which have been repeated and enforced in several of the papers. They say in their introduction that they cannot explain this course more fairly than by giving the following extracts from our correspondence on the subject. The following are the extracts they give: “PHILADELPHIA. Sept. 9, 1846
“We have had in contemplation the publication of a work to be entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution,” to make one or two 12mo. Volumes and should like to know if you would be willing to undertake the authorship of it. It you feel inclined to do so, please let us know your terms.”
Also an extract from my reply, viz: “STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. Sept. 21, 1846.
“I have just received your favor of the 9th inst. I scarcely know what to say in reply, as I do not yet know what my engagements will be for the winter.…but before I undertake it, I shall want to inquire respecting the materials for it, and whether they are easily accessible. I am afraid the archives of the separate States will have to be searched. There is another consideration; whether it would be better for me as an author to write such a work….I shall return to New-York in a week or two, when I shall decide on what I undertake.”
They then state that—
“Since the date of that letter, however, he has not written a line to the publishers; though they suggested the idea of the work to him, he has arranged with Messrs. Baker and Scribner, of New-York, (who were perfectly aware of the circumstances of his correspondence on the subject with Carey & Hart,) for its publication.
“The publishers have only to add that, as they were the originators of the work, their suggestions in regard to it should not have been used by Rev. J. T. Headley, for his own benefit or that of any other house, without first giving them notice and obtaining their consent. As well might a publisher make use of a MS submitted to him for publication by an author, by appropriating that author’s ideas in the preparation of a similar work, while he should be under the impression and expectation that the publisher was deciding upon the merits of his literary labors. PHILADELPHIA, 1847.
Messrs. Carey & Hart here distinctly assert that they suggested an entirely new work to me, and that, while they supposed I was deliberating on their proposals, I coolly appropriated their plan and made arrangements with another house. To substantiate this charge of dishonesty, they adduce, my letter as the proof and the only proof. Now to show the nature of this proof, and where the dishonesty and falsehood rest, I give the letter as written by me, that it may be compared with the extract made by them: “STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. Sept. 21, 1846.
“I have just received your favor of the 9th inst. forwarded from New-York.
I scarcely know what to say in reply, as I do not yet know what my engagements will be for the winter. I have had such a work as the one you propose to publish in contemplation for some time; last Spring I was spoken to on the subject in New-York, but before I undertake it, I shall want to inquire respecting the materials for it, and whether they are easily accessible. I am afraid the archives of the separate States will have to be searched. There is another consideration; whether it would be better for me as an author to write such a work,” &c.
Thus it is seen that they have endeavored to suborn a witness, in order to make it sustain a false accusation. They quote a letter intended to prove that I had acknowledged them to be the originators of the book; yet that very letter asserts my claim to it in the strongest manner. They cite the letter to prove by my confession, their priority over all others; that letter informs them I had already been spoken to on the subject. And yet, with this letter in their hands, with all these facts before them, they have publicly claimed the idea of the book as their own, charged me with having dishonestly appropriated it to my own use and benefit, and then, to sustain these charges, have garbled the very letter which refutes them all! Among honorable men such an act would stamp the author of it with lasting disgrace.
With regard to the abstract question, who suggested the work, it is too ridiculous to be entertained a moment. Every one who has taken the trouble to think on the subject at all, believes that “Washington and his Generals” grew out of “Napoleon and his Marshals.”
Since this was published they have made another statement and again garbled my letter and endeavored to make another point. In reply I say, there stands the extract as copied from Carey & Hart’s copy of the original which they showed around town last Spring. Do they deny its genuineness? I wished to publish the whole letter but could not get hold of it. I directed my publishers to write a polite note to Mr. Hart requesting a copy. They did so; but hitherto he has declined to send it or to publish it himself. The only point they raise in their preface is that they suggested the book to me, and that I stole and appropriated the suggestion. That point is settled by the extract I gave. Let them publish the whole letter and then the public can determine where the honesty rests.
Are they not aware that their refusal to do so is and will be construed into a confession of guilt? If they are justified in the course they have pursued by that letter as they assert, why not publish it? It is a short one and would not take up a tenth part of the space they have occupied with their comments. I am willing that letter should stand without note or comment as my answer to all their charges, and side by side with their preface as the only testimony I need to convict them. Nay, more, it will give the lie direct to the following statement in their last letter.
“He (Mr. Headley) gives in your paper the letter as written by himself, in which he states he had ‘such a work as the one we proposed to publish in contemplation for some time,’ but does not add, as he did in his original letter received by us, that the work he contemplated publishing, (which is evident to us from the tenor of that letter,) was a History of the late War.”
I said I had had in contemplation a History of the Last War; but the one which I stated I had had “in contemplation for some time” is asserted distinctly in the following sentence of my letter as quoted above:--“I have had such a work as you propose to publish in contemplation for some time.” Can anything equal this misrepresentation and effrontery?
In conclusion, I must say again, that I have been forced unwillingly into this controversy, and should not have noticed Mr. Hart’s misrepresentations, had not several of the papers taken them up, and extended them to my injury. They say they have never before been “unfairly treated by an American author.” I can assure them that if they treat all as they have me, they will soon find none to treat with them. I have written a book in the way I saw best—“this is the head and front of my offending;” and yet I must be abused, misrepresented and forced into a newspaper quarrel, because I will not let a certain wealthy house make some money out of me.
Yours, truly, J. T. HEADLEY.
NEW-YORK, Nov. 11, 1847.
To the Editor of The Tribune:
SIR: Messrs. Carey & Hart published in your paper this morning some extracts from letters that passed between us respecting Mr. Headley’s work, entitled “Washington and his Generals.” We have only to say in reply, let them publish the whole correspondence between us, including Mr. Headley’s letter. Their selected extracts and quotations we shall not notice, as they do not tell the whole truth. We appeal to the whole correspondence and object to ex parte extracts. We are willing that the whole correspondence should decide the question between us; but until they give that, we have only to say that any one who will take the trouble to read the exposition of Mr. Headley will see that Carey & Hart had no claim on him for his book—that he was under no obligation to them respecting it, and therefore had a perfect right to give it to us if he pleased. If he had a right to dispose of the book as he say fit, we certainly had a right to make an arrangement with him. Yours, &c. BAKER & SCRIBNER.