Wednesday, April 9, 2008

farthing candle to the sun

Thomas Love Peacock to Edward Hookham

H. M. S. Venerable, Downs,
March 13, 1809.

My Dear Edward,
I should sooner have thanked you and your brother for your very kind and acceptable letter, and your last packet of literature; but I have been very busy with
Forsyth's Moral Science, and my own little poem of The Thames, which I have just finished, and now send to you, such as it is. I have a number of miscellaneous pieces by me, sufficient, with a classical ballad or two now in embryo, to make a volume the size of Palmyra. Perhaps it might be better to publish The Thames alone in quarto.

I sympathise with you most deeply in the doleful description you give of your melancholy pilgrimage through Carr's Scottish Tour. Heaven preserve us!
Sir John Carr *on the banks of the Tweed! As wise and as observing as an owl in sunshine! Sir John Carr on classical ground! Sir John in Teviotdale! In the scenes immortalised by Scott and Leyden! attempting to hold his farthing candle to the sun, and to meddle with things which he has neither a heart to feel nor a mind to comprehend! Rosslyn and Richmond Hill! The Firth of Forth and the Paddington Canal will be the next objects of comparison. What adequate punishment can be devised for the inconceivable folly of this incorrigible champion of dullness? this daring trespasser on the territories of the literary republic? this ignorant intruder on the regions of the picturesque? this itinerant Vandal? this eternal gatherer of nosegays of weeds? You say he went to Bridewell; would to Heaven he had remained there!

I fear you have been considerable losers by the downfall of
Drury Lane Theatre; pray let me know. I send you the only copy of The Thames I have. You will particularly oblige me by writing as soon as it comes to hand, and communicating your ideas on the subject. Yours most sincerely,

It has just occurred to me that I have been guilty of a horrible piece of vandalism in omitting to mention, in the accompanying poem, Runnymead and Cowper's Hill. This palpable deficiency must be filled up. You will see the proper place for introducing them at page 26. Since writing the above postscript I have supplied the defect in a manner. One or two corrections are necessary throughout the poem with regard to the recurrence of epithets, and the addition of a few notes appears indispensably requisite.

*Sir John Carr (1772-1832) Barrister and Travel Writer.

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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