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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, 1 February 1806

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
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[Dated at end: February 1st, 1806.]

DEAR Wordsworth—I have seen the Books which you ordered, booked at the White Horse Inn, Cripplegate, by the Kendal waggon this day 1st Feby. 1806; you will not fail
to see after them in time. They are directed to you at Grasmere. We have made some alteration in the Editions since your
sister’s directions. The handsome quarto Spencer which she authorized Mary to buy for £2. 12. 6, when she brought it home in triumph proved to be only the Fairy Queen: so we got them to take it again and I have procured instead a Folio, which luckily contains, besides all the Poems, the view of the State of Ireland, which is difficult to meet with. The Spencer, and the Chaucer, being noble old books, we did not think Stockdale’s modern volumes would look so well beside them; added to which I don’t know whether you are aware that the Print is excessive small, same as Eleg. Extracts, or smaller, not calculated for eyes in age; and Shakespear is one of the last books one should like to give up, perhaps the one just before the Dying Service in a large Prayer book. So we have used our own discretion in purchasing Pope’s fine Quarto in six volumes, which may be read ad ultimam horam vitæ. It is bound like Law Books (rather, half bound) and the Law Robe I have ever thought as comely and gentlemanly a garb as a Book would wish to wear. The state of the purchase then stands thus,
  Urrey’s Chaucer £1 . 16 —
  Pope’s Shakespeare   2 .   2 —
  Spenser         14 —
  Milton   1 .  5 —
  Packing Case &c.          3 . 6
    6 . — . 6
Which your Brother immediately repaid us. He has the Bills for all (by his desire) except the Spenser, which we took no bill with (not looking to have our accounts audited): so for that and the Case he took a separate receipt for 17/6. N.B. there is writing in the Shakespear: but it is only variæ lectiones which some careful gentleman, the former owner, was at the pains to insert in a very neat hand from 5 Commentators. It is no defacement. The fault of Pope’s edition is, that he has comically and coxcombically marked the Beauties: which is vile, as if you were to chalk up the cheek and across the nose of a handsome woman in red chalk to shew where the comeliest parts lay. But I hope the noble type and Library-appearance of the Books will atone for that. With the Books come certain Books and Pamphlets of G. Dyer, Presents or rather Decoy-ducks of the Poet to take in his thus-far obliged friends to buy his other works; as he takes care to inform them in M.S. notes to the Title Pages, “G. Dyer, Author of other Books printed for Longman &c.” The books have lain at your dis-
patchful brother’s a 12 months, to the great staling of most of the subjects. The three Letters and what is else written at the beginning of the respective Presents will ascertain the division of the Property. If not, none of the Donees, I dare say, will grudge a community of property in this case. We were constrained to pack ’em how we could, for room. Also there comes
W. Hazlitt’s book about Human Action, for Coleridge; a little song book for Sarah Coleridge; a Box for Hartley which your Brother was to have sent, but now devolved on us—I don’t know from whom it came, but the things altogether were too much for Mr. (I’ve forgot his name) to take charge of; a Paraphrase on the King and Queen of Hearts, of which I being the Author beg Mr. Johnny Wordsworth’s acceptance and opinion. Liberal Criticism, as G. Dyer declares, I am always ready to attend to!—And that’s all, I believe. N.B. I must remain Debtor to Dorothy for 200 pens: but really Miss Stoddart (women are great gulfs of Stationery), who is going home to Salisbury and has been with us some weeks, has drained us to the very last pen: by the time S. T. C. passes thro’ London I reckon I shall be in full feather. No more news has transpired of that Wanderer. I suppose he has found his way to some of his German friends.

A propos of Spencer (you will find him mentioned a page or two before, near enough for an a propos), I was discoursing on Poetry (as one’s apt to deceive onesself, and when a person is willing to talk of what one likes, to believe that he also likes the same: as Lovers do) with a Young Gentleman of my office who is deep read in Anacreon Moore, Lord Strangford, and the principal Modern Poets, and I happen’d to mention Epithalamiums and that I could shew him a very fine one of Spencer’s. At the mention of this, my Gentleman, who is a very fine Gentleman, and is brother to the Miss Evans who Coleridge so narrowly escaped marrying, pricked up his ears and exprest great pleasure, and begged that I would give him leave to copy it: he did not care how long it was (for I objected the length), he should be very happy to see any thing by him. Then pausing, and looking sad, he ejaculated Poor Spencer! I begged to know the reason of his ejaculation, thinking that Time had by this time softened down any calamities which the Bard might have endured—“Why, poor fellow!” said he “he has lost his Wife!” “Lost his Wife?” said I, “Who are you talking of?” “Why, Spencer,” said he. “I’ve read the Monody he wrote on the occasion, and a very pretty thing it is.” This led to an explanation (it could be delay’d no longer) that the sound Spencer, which when Poetry is talk’d of generally excites an image of an old Bard in a Ruff, and sometimes with it dim notions of Sir P. Sydney and perhaps Lord Burleigh, had raised in my Gentleman a quite
contrary image of The
Honourable William Spencer, who has translated some things from the German very prettily, which are publish’d with Lady Di. Beauclerk’s Designs.

Nothing like defining of Terms when we talk. What blunders might I have fallen into of quite inapplicable Criticism, but for this timely explanation.

N.B. At the beginning of Edm. Spencer (to prevent mistakes) I have copied from my own copy, and primarily from a book of Chalmers on Shakspear, a Sonnet of Spenser’s never printed among his poems. It is curious as being manly and rather Miltonic, and as a Sonnet of Spenser’s with nothing in it about Love or Knighthood. I have no room for remembrances; but I hope our doing your commission will prove we do not quite forget you.

C. L.
1 Feb., 1806.