W2603 TO ISAAC B. MCQUESTEN from William Dunn
Nov 10 1883
From: New York
I.B. McQuesten Esq
In my several letters to you respecting the attempt to realize out of any or all the Patents, I omitted one (to me) important item, Looking at the matter from a business standpoint which I hope will appear to you only reasonable and wishing to avoid any misunderstanding I deem it advisable to again trouble you, although receiving no reply to any of the letters forwarded which from the nature of the information sought required replies. To enable me to take advantage of any favorable circumstance that might present itself I attribute the delay to your being absent.
To return to the question at issue From facts cognisant to myself and the result of investigation. I am confident these Patents can be got rid of.1 At what price I am not prepared to say. Now as I have only a share in these properties, and thus could only claim a proportionate [sic] of such proceeds as might be realized. Consequently I do not feel warranted in assuming all the risk [??] &c. to accomplish that which will be to [ad]vantage [sic] of others in the aggregate, much more than to myself. It might be said "Go on and if you accomplish anything you will be remunerated" but that carries with it a tinge of the "considerate [scoundrel??]" that is not sufficiently definite or particularly sought after. Hence the desire for an understanding As the [??], I may state that it is no use writing & it so much for your shares and realize what I can, because I am working almost for the desired purpose of getting out of the business myself, and not entirely impelled by the sole desire of profiting others at the expense of myself having returned from that "role." & is not necessary to say No man can act consistently in the interests of both buyer and seller And as I am entirely intended in the sale not in the purchase any benefits; arising through my agency would [assume??] to you and others as well as myself. Now as Mr. [Alison's??] services were considered with $5 of the results. In fact, at a proposed readjustment it was considered fair and right that I should relinquish 1/2 of the shares held by me, thus placing myself and W.A on an equal basis. To this proposition when submitted to me. I had the presumption to [demur??] And instead submitted a scheme which to my mind was more equitably proportioned. Let me here say as soon as you thought the matter over you at once realised the rearrangement as submitted by me to be equitable, doing justice to all parties concerned. But others did not concur in your and my opinion. And I incurred the displeasure (I might say [renown??]) [of??] the dissatisfied. Without touching on the fact that I as principal could assert. My aim for all benefits that might arise from conscious or gifts made to a party while acting as my agent, in the negotiation of the business and whom I paid a liberal commission for his services without asserting to the foregoing or availing myself of any such pretext. Because when I accept of the situation, I never look back, and whine. But as the allotment was given for services that have proved by experience to be valuable and with no prospect of their even being made available.
I think it would be no more than "equity" to transfer the portion in question (ie. the 1/4 of the whole) to me if I succeed in doing the work for which it was originally given to the other. Now I do not wish to be considered selfish, vindictive or arbitrary. And if the view expressed is not acceptable there it surely will be acknowledged that I would be entitled to a percentage for such sales as I might succeed in making the percentage to be agreed on at the outset. You can understand why I must have this arranged at the commencement because it is more than a business precaution and would be a gauge for expenditure and labor. Protecting others from the necessity of "Paying my debts" resulting from the necessary in caused expenses attendant on furthering the interests of them as well as myself, and at the cost of hard labor and time to myself. Another strong reason is "it could not be right for me to borrow money from my personal friends if I did not see anyway of repaying them" and the more especially, if it is for the object of benefiting others in when they can have no concern. A further reason is I wish to take all precautionary measures against the "possibility of" starving "and be saved only by providential interposition." The reasons given, aside from business are I think sufficient induce me to want a decided understanding before doing much in the matter. Although extremely desirous of having the business brought to a wind-up. It is needless for me to say that delay is detrimental. I have wasted with daily expectation of getting the values placed on the articles so as to enable me to decide whether it will be judicious of me to take up my time treating the question of possible success or not If I think the figures cannot be obtained. I shall decline the attempt. If they are such as meets my views I can plan the business into operation at once. In fact I have promised to be prepared by the middle of next week at the furthest to show the business out fully. Therefore it is not necessary to say that there is not much time to lose, if it is desirous to have anything done And I cannot devote my time to anticipating and writing any great length of time for decision. As I have arranged exactly what to do, in the event of my deciding not to attempt pushing the business in question. And will be of such a nature as to present me from giving that time to the business which would be absolutely essential even if I were greatly disposed. Which I cannot be, unless the conditions are favourable and predictable. The latter being essential. I believe I have thus gone on the whole grounds and explained matters plainly and truthfully not indulging in compliments but stating things as they appear to me in an [unvarnished??] manner. Hoping that you will at your candid convenience swiftly reply to the substance of the foregoing letters.
1 This may refer to the train car coupler patents that Dunn had worked on, but may also refer to patents for seal locks, boiler feeders or band saws which Dunn had improved. For more on Dunn and his business relationship with Isaac McQuesten see W2554a.