1847: Horatio G. Hale to G & C Merriam

This letter was written by Horatio G. Hale, Jr. (1812-1853), a clerk in Palmer, Massachusetts, at the time, but later a grocer merchant in Springfield. He died of “rheumatism” in Springfield in 1853. His wife was Matilda Jenks (1812-Aft1892) of Enfield, Massachusetts. Horatio was the son of Capt. Horatio G. Hale, Sr. and Harriet Roberts (1789-1815), daughter of Eli Roberts, who were married in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1811. Hale Sr. was a partner with Elisha Phelps in a book & stationary store in Hartford.

G & C Merriam Company in Springfield, Mass.

Hale Jr. wrote this letter to George and Charles Merriam who, in 1843, after Noah Webster’s death, secured publishing and revision rights to the 1840 edition of Webster’s dictionary. They published a revision in 1847, which did not change any of the main text but merely added new sections, and a second update with illustrations in 1859. In 1864, Merriam published a greatly expanded edition, which was the first version to change Webster’s text, largely overhauling his work yet retaining many of his definitions and the title An American Dictionary. This began a series of revisions that were described as being “unabridged.”

Stampless Cover



Addressed to Messrs. G & C Merriam, Springfield, Massachusetts

Palmer [Massachusetts]
January 29th 1847

Messrs. G. & C. Merriam,

Your account I received in due time & should have written but expected to have been in Springfield before this, & have had the books on hand invoiced & packed to bring with me. But I shall postpone my visit for a few days longer & take the liberty of asking at this late day an excuse for not attending to it sooner.

I find by the invoice that I have sold $50 worth of the Commission Books & the balance on hand are in as good order as when taken. I told you at the time of receiving the books that I had no glass case, but after opening the books, I concluded to empty my Ribbon Case & put therein the books. I have therefore been enabled to keep them in good order. I shall therefore return the books in good order & to your satisfaction, I think, & shall very soon do so.

I shall then ask your advice whether I had not better take a larger assortment or not. Whoever keeps an assortment in this place will sell a large amount of books in a year & I think it will be for my interest to keep them, and as I have commenced it, think best to keep the ground & shall want them from you or some other source. I shall pay you the balance due on account when I come in. Respectfully yours, H. G. Hale


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