I wish I had known in time what heads of Nanteuil you want. There has been a very valuable sale of Sir Clement Cotterell’s prints, the impressions most beautiful, and of which Nanteuil made the capital part. I do not know who particularly collects his works now, but I have ordered my bookseller Bathoe,(458) who is much versed in those things, to inquire; and if I hear of any purchaser, Sir, I will let you know.
I have not bought the Anecdotes of Polite literature,(459) suspecting them for a bookseller’s compilation, and confirmed in it by never hearing them mentioned. Our booksellers here at London disgrace literature, by the trash they bespeak to be written, and at the same time prevent every thing else from being sold. They are little more or less than upholsters, who sell sets or bodies of arts and sciences for furniture; and the purchasers, for I am sure they are not readers, buy only in that view.(460) I never thought there was much merit in reading: but yet it is too good a thing to be put upon no better footing than In damask and mahogany.
Whenever I can be of the least use to your studies or collections, you know, Sir, that you may command me freely.
(457) Now first collected.
(458) This very intelligent bookseller, who lived near Exeter ’Change, in the Strand, died in 1768.-E.
(459) This was a very amusing and judicious selection, in five small volumes, very neatly printed.-E.
(460 “I once said to Dr. Johnson, ’I am sorry, Sir, you did not get more for your Dictionary.’ His answer was, ’I am sorry too; but it was very well: the booksellers are generous liberal-minded men.’ He, upon all occasions, did ample justice to their character in this respect. He considered them as the patrons of literature and, indeed, although they have eventually been considerable gainers by his Dictionary, it is to them that we owe its having been undertaken and carried out at the risk of great expense for they were not absolutely sure of being indemnified.” Boswell’s Johnson, vol. ii. p. 58.-E.
You have, I hope, long before this, my dear lord, received the immense letter that I sent you by old Monin. It explained much, and announced most part of which has already happened; for you will observe that when I tell you any thing, very positively, it is on good intelligence. I have another much bigger secret for you, but that will be delivered to you by word of mouth. I am not a little impatient for the long letter you promised me. In the mean time thank you for the account you give me of the King’s extreme civility to you. It is like yourself, to dwell on that, and to say little of M. de Chaulnes’s dirty behaviour; but Monsieur and Madame de Guerchy have told your brother and me all the particulars.