1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Lamb

William Wordsworth to Alexander Dyce, May 1830; Letters of the Wordsworth Family, ed. Knight (1907) 2:419.



May, 1830.

I am truly obliged, my dear sir, by your valuable present of Webster's Dramatic Works and the Specimens. Your publisher was right in insisting upon the whole of Webster, otherwise the book might have been superseded, either by an entire edition separately given to the world, or in some corpus of the dramatic writers. The Poetic Genius of England with the exception of Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Pope, and a very few more, is to be sought in her Drama. How it grieves one that there is so little probability of those valuable authors being read except by the curious. I questioned my friend Charles Lamb whether it would answer for some person of real taste to undertake abridging the plays that are not likely to be read as wholes, and telling such parts of the story in brief abstract as were ill managed in the Drama. He thought it would not — I, however, am inclined to think it would.

The account of your indisposition gives me much concern. It pleases me, however, to see that, though you may suffer, your industry does not relax; and I hope that your pursuits are rather friendly than injurious to your health.