1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

Robert Surtees to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, 20 October 1804; Letters from and to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharp (1888) 1:212-13.



MAINSFORTH, 20th Oct. 1804.

DEAR SHARPE,

I am afraid it will not be in my power to leave home this autumn, as I am engaged in considerable perplexity as a trustee for some of my friends whose circumstances have been embarrassed. I would have written sooner, but hoped that the beginning of this month I should have been at liberty, and intended to have spent a few weeks in Cumberland and Scotland. Bruce has been here, and went to Carlisle or Crofton last week, and I was sorry I could not accompany him. He said if he had a couple of days to spare he would see you, so it is not improbable you may see a lean Don Quixote figure, for he is thinner than ever, ride up to the walls of your castle and demand admittance. I have not been much in the way of obtaining any books, but have left a commission with Todd at York to lay hands on "Lord Dundee," should he meet with it; it was in his catalogue 2 years ago, bound up with an account of some witchcraft at Glenluce, and the dealings of a malignant spirit (I suppose a Presbyterian one) in Ayrshire. Perhaps you have obtained Dundee or the other books by this time. I have lately renewed an acquaintance with a curious kind of character whom I knew many years ago, who is now resident in London, and he occurs to me as being a very probable person to delight in a search for any out-of-the-way productions; and if you have been still unsuccessful, or wish to procure any other antique pamphlets, &c., if you will name them I'll write to him as for myself, and I think it may be a good channel, as he has, I know, a great indefatigability, and a natural love for the occult sciences, and being by profession an author, is of course in the habit of frequenting booksellers' shops.

I have got by me a thin vol. in 4to containing the Laws and Acts of the 1st Parliament of Charles 2, held at Edinb., 1661.

1 Jan. Collected from the Rolls by Sir Archibald Primrose. Most of these Acts are merely things, of course, to restore matters to the old channel. But some of them contain the names of commissions for raising monies in different counties. I do not see your name in Dumfries, but there are those of Grierson, Queensberry, Maxwell, &c.; and there are some notices of private Acts, ratifications, &c., which may give a little light into the state of particular families, but nothing very interesting; and you may probably, such as it is, possess it, included in some larger collection: however, if you choose, it is much at your service, and I'll either reserve it for you, or send it, or as you chuse. Together with it are bound up some of Oliver Cromwell's English ordinances, 1654. I have never met with anything else relative to Scotland since I saw you, and have only to apologise for troubling you so long about trifles. If you should travel southwards, and can take this on your way, you will find me here I think till towards the spring, May and June, when I shall probably be in London, and hope in the course of the summer we shall meet. If you have ever any heraldic queries, I shall always be glad and able to procure you as much information as the English College of Arms affords, or to be of use to your researches in any other way, except in any design you may entertain of restoring the Pope or the Pretender, which I shall always most certainly oppose; but you may write a[bout it] as much as you chuse, as I am convinced that the more the matter is inquired into, even by the most partial asserters of power divine, the more will the beauty and holiness of the Whig cause be made manifest. You perceive I have shewn my cloven foot at parting, but believe me, "usque ad sceptra et aras," yours sincerely,

R. SURTEES.