Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adrift, or, questions for a circulating librarian

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

H. M. S. Venerable, The Downs,
February 10, 1809.

My Dear Edward,
I return with many thanks the whole of your first cargo of books, excepting the comedy of Management. I came on board on Sunday, since which it has blown a constant gale, except during a short period on Tuesday, so that I could not send off this box before. I know not whether our bum boat will be off today, which is the best opportunity I have of transacting any little business of this nature. Have the goodness to send me the fourth volume of Lewis's Romantic Tales, The Romance of the Forest, The Ring and the Well, Adelmora the Outlaw, and something very elegantly romantesque in the poetical department, if you can find anything of that description which I have not yet seen. I have never read the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; if you can spare it conveniently, you may send me that likewise. Send them in a paper parcel; should they be too many to pack up well in paper, omit The Romance of the Forest.
What new in the republic of letters? Is another volume of Miss Baillie's tragedies forthcoming? Has Gifford undertaken to edit Beaumont and Fletcher? Or is any new edition of these dramatists in contemplation? What is Walter Scott about? Is anything new escaped from the pen of the incomparable Southey? How is poor Campbell? His lyre breathed the very soul of poetry; must it remain unstrung for ever? Is Wordsworth sleeping in peace on his bed of mud in the profundity of the Bathos, or will he ever again wake to dole out a lyrical ballad? His last work to all appearance has damned him irrecoverably. Is there any new romance by the author of The Fatal Revenge ? What tours and travels are at present most in vogue? How is Sir John Carr getting on? What was the last act of folly, in the shape of publication, committed by Mr. Pratt, or Dr. Mavor, or Miss Seward, or Mr. Hayley, or any other of Mr. Phillips's formidable host of inanity? Can you tell me anything concerning Jacky Morfitt, the Latinist of Birmingham? You sometime since mentioned a poem by a Sepoy, which Leyden was translating; what expectations may I entertain on that head? Are Knight and Price still at issue respecting the distinct character of the picturesque and the beautiful? Has anything on that subject made its appearance lately? Now, answer every one of these questions categorically, or to the best of your information, which I have no doubt is sufficiently extensive.
Yours most sincerely,

Apropos, if you have Forsyth's Elements of Moral Science, send that too. I once asked you if Miss Cornelia Knight were the sister of Richard Payne Knight, Esq. You replied, you could not tell, having never heard of her. The lady is the authoress of Latium, or La Campagna di Roma, &c, &c, &c. The gentleman is sufficiently known to you by his analytical enquiry into the principles of Taste. Find out if you can, as I particularly wish to know.

To: Mr. E. T. HOOKHAM,
15 Old Bond St., London.
[Bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, publisher and purveyor of a circulating library]

-from Thomas Love Peacock Letters to Edward Hookham and Percy B. Shelley with Fragments of Unpublished MSS edited by Richard Garnett (Boston: Bibliophile Society, MCMX)

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