This is the first in a series of blog posts that features an entire letter from the many sent by Charles Clark to John Russell Smith. The first was posted on this day in 1837, 178 years ago. It is the earliest letter that we know of that survives from Clark to his bookseller.
Great Totham Hall, near Witham, Essex, March 14th 1837
Your parcel, dated February 23d, I safely received – My principal object in writing to you just now is this : – Mrs Gower, the sister of our present worthy vicar, is very anxious to obtain for her nieces, who are now at our Vicarage, on a visit, a copy of the book entitled “Woman: as she is, and as she should be”, which I have undertaken to endeavour to procure for her, as soon as possible. You will, doubtless, recollect, that among the lastparcel of Books I sent you, there was a copy of the identical book – which, probably (as you have not published a Catalogue very lately, I believe) is still in your possession. If it is, you will much oblige me by returning it [deletion] (at your own price, of course) immediately, through the medium of Mr Youngman; the same as [my] all the other parcels you have forwarded to me of late. – As I am very anxious to oblige such an amiable lady as Ms Gower, it is right to mention, that if your copy of the above-mentioned work is not now attainable, and you should not know where to obtain one elsewhere, there is a copy in Churton’s (26 Holles Street) List of Second-hand Books, appended to the Gentleman’s Magazine for January last, which, perhaps, is yet to be had. There are two copied amongst Green’s (48, Great Queen St.) Cat., appended to the same No. of the same work, but I happen to know that neither of these are now to be obtained. – I have not enclosed any cash to pay for the article I require, should you get it, as I intend to send you another parcel of Books, in about a month, when you will have an opportunity of inserting it among your other drawbacks on my account; for as you inform me you canobtain for me 100 impressions of the portrait of Aylet for £1-1-0, and the cost of the paper, I beg to say that you will oblige me by getting the said number printed off, in the course of a month at farthest, so that they may be ready to return with the cash, &c. that will be due to me, as a balance, when I have sent any Books. I shall not sent you near as large a parcel next time – not more than 3 or 4 £’s worth, I guess. – Be careful to order that my 100 impressions of Aylet’s portrait be neatly worked off, and on good paper. – How is it that I have not received any Catalogue from you lately? – you announced one to appear on the 1st instant – I suppose it is not yet ready. – I think it right to mention, now I am writing, that I am in want of a copy of the following books &c. – some of which, perhaps, you may happen of by the time you next hear from me – or if you have any of them already on hand, you can send them, if you please, with my this week’s parcel; of course, supposing you should be able to get the above-named book, which is most probable. I am, then, in want of the following trifles, if they are procurable at a cheap rate:
The Comic Offering – any of the vols. (except that for 1835, which I have) but not at more than 4 or 6/ each.
Hopkins’s (Matthew) Discovery of Witches, &c., 1647. Have you ever seen this book? No doubt, there is a copy in the B. Museum. When you have occasion to visit there again, perhaps you will take the trouble to ask to see it, and at some future opportunity, give me a few particulars respecting it – and what would be (within a little) the expense of a transcript of it; but pray do not take so much trouble, on my account, as you did about Ayelt’s book. There is a portrait, &c., appended to it, I think – I should like to know whether it agrees with the one given in my reprint of the Essex Witches –
Kelly’s (of Paternoster Row) ed. of the Polstead Murder, 8vo, 1828 (or thereabouts) if at a cheap price – it was published at 12/-
Clare’s (the Northamptonshire poet) Moments of Forgetfulness, date about 1825. This is but little known. It was reviewed in the Monthly Mag. at the time
Sale Cat. of Haslewood’s Library – also a portrait of him, if there is one in existence. Can you inform me under what signatures Haslewood generally wrote, when he published [^his original] poetical articles? I wish to get together all the poetical pieces of his I can – have you any?
A Portrait of Mrs Mary Honywood, of March Hall, Essex, who lived to see so many descendants from her – there is one in existence, I know.
A Portrait of the present Archdeacon Wrangham, if there is one in existence, which is probable. I occassionally correspond with this person, chiefly on Bibliographical subjects, but as he lives at such a distance from Totham, I have never seen him. In a letter I received from him on Saturday last, he informs me, that Dr. T.F. Dibdin’s (the Roxburgher, &c.) address is either 7 (or 14) Wyndham St., Marleybone, – perhaps you can inform me which is the correct number.
Do you know of any work that contains a bibliographical account of Dr R. Aylet? Does not Grainger’s Bio. Dict.? – by-the-bye, I never saw G’s work – common as it is = trusting that you will obligingly attend immediately (or, at all costs, by Saturday) to my request respecting Mr Foster’s (?) “Woman” &c.,
I remain, Sir, yours very respectfully
[to Mr J.R. Smith]
PS Another question! Do you know whether T. Thorpe (of Picadilly) has issued any Catalogues lately? I have seen none of his in the Quarterly Review, or elsewhere, for some time. His Cats. often contain some curiosities – though he prices his articles rather high in general, I think – If you have any lately-published Catalgoues of Books by you, that you do not want, perhaps you will be o good as to enclose them in my parcel – as you may have some that I have not seen. By-the-bye, in collecting Catalogues, I am quite a horse-leech – it is always “give-give-give!” – perhaps (in scripture language) “it is my infirmity!”
Note: The authors of this blog have made every effort, without success, to trace the holders of the copyright to these letters. We invite the holders of of copyright to make themselves known to us.