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BURNEY Charles Parr - Autograph Letter Signed 1825 seeking autographs for his wife's collection

  • £475.00

Charles Parr BURNEY (1785-1864)

Autograph Letter Signed (“Charles Parr Burney”) to John Nichols, requesting any “cast off” autographs to satisfy his wife’s new enthusiasm for autograph collecting.
2 pages 4to with integral address leaf, Greenwich, 15 January 1825. 
I come before you as a Suitor, not for myself, indeed, but for my “better part” – for my Lady. Within these last twelve months Mrs. Burney has taken to the fashionable pursuit of collecting Autographs & like all Patients, newly infected with any raging Malady, has the Strain at present in its very highest stage of excitement. My hands have of course been submitted to the most merciless & unsparing …, - & now her Friends, & my friends, must “for peace sake”, endure the imposition of the strictest levy which the Lady-Collector dares to exact.
She has been inculcated[?] into the notion that you are over-burthened with riches of the sort, which she most covets, & knows from me, & from all who are acquainted with you the willingness with which you accede to the prayers of all, who are in the least entitled to approach you in the language of petitioner. Forgive, then, the trouble: - perhaps I should rather say, the presumption of this request, & if from stores, - accumulated by close & intimate alliance with Literature & learned men, - for two thirds of a century, - there be any cast off scraps, not worthy of a place in any Collection which you may yourself have formed, - such fragments will, I assure you, most gladly be welcomed, - & most gratefully accepted, by the Lady who commands me thus to beseech you, & gives me the opportunity which I always with pleasure seize, of assuring you that I am ever, dear Mr. Nichols . . .
Charles Parr Burney, grandson of the great musicologist Charles Burney, and nephew of writer Fanny Burney, succeeded his father (another Charles) as headmaster of Greenwich Academy in 1813, and later became Archdeacon of St. Albans and of Colchester. He was also a collector of drawings and watercolours, which should, one imagines, have made him more sympathetic to his wife’s newfound interest in collecting autographs.
His correspondent, John Nichols, was a printer, writer, contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine, author of a notable volume on Hogarth, councillor and Master of the Stationers’ Company. Perhaps more pertinently for a lady in search of autographs, he was also a friend of Samuel Johnson and a noted collector of books, antiquities (he was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries) and manuscripts.
John Nichols’ successful work as a printer was carried on by his son, John Bowyer Nichols, at whose premises the letter was addressed.
The letter has a small tear and a neat cut on the address leaf, not touching the text, where the seal has evidently been removed. It is very slightly dusty, but otherwise in very good condition.


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