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[173] in all, that place it among the best in England. But we went now to see the family portraits on the grand staircase and gallery, a crowd of Vandykes, Sir Peter Lelys, and Sir Joshuas, with now and then a Holbein, and one Pompeo Battoni. . . .

We lunched, and then Lord Spencer gave us over to the librarian to show us the rarities of the library, the incunabula, the unique copies, and the other curiosities for which the late Earl spent such incredible sums of money. . . . . . The series to illustrate the earliest history of printing down to the first book printed with a date—the Psalter of 1457—is, I suppose, the most complete in the world, certainly the most complete I have ever seen.

Afterwards there is only an embarras de richesses, but I occupied myself chiefly with the earliest specimens of the English press, and especially the English poets, where, again, nothing seemed wanting. Of course we stared at the famous Valdarfer Boccaccio, 1471, which was sold, in 1812, at the Roxburgh auction, for £ 2,260, and which was sold again in 1819, at the sale of the Duke of Marlborough's—Marquis of Blandford's White Knight's—library, for £ 918.16; both prices, I suppose, unexampled in their absurdity. Lord Spencer told me two odd facts about it: that Lord Blandford was not worth a sou when he bought it, and yet had given orders to go up to £ 5,000 for it, and was obliged to leave it in the auctioneer's hands above a year, before he could raise the money to pay for it; and that the last purchaser was Longman, against whom Lord Spencer, when he found out who his competitor was, would not bid, because he thought it was improper for his own bookseller to run him up, and of whom he would not afterwards buy it at any advance, because he would not suffer him to profit by his interference. The book is certainly a great curiosity, but it is made so chiefly by the folly of those who have owned it and those who have written about it.

We had a most pleasant dinner and evening, Lord Spencer telling us a great many anecdotes of Lord Brougham, illustrating the inconsistency and unprincipledness of his course since he ceased to be Lord Chancellor . . . . . I was sorry to break off such talk and go to bed, for it was the last evening we could give to Althorp, where we certainly have been most kindly received, and where we have enjoyed a great deal. But, as Sancho says, ‘there is an end to everything but death.’

On this Sunday passed at Althorp, Mr. Ticknor wrote the following letter:—

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