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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

1750. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 23 February 1810 ⁠* 

Keswick. Feby. 23. 1810.

My dear Tom,

Having replied, as above, to your interesting letters from Bristol & from Staunton, I proceed to the more immediate object of this present writing. Murray has applied to me to write a life of Nelson, [1]  – such a life as would find its way into every officers cabin & every midshipmans hands. – a five shilling volume – for which he offers me 100 Guineas. I delay my final answer. & keep the documents till I learn whether you are coming or not, – because if you are disposed to lend a hand, there is great part of this which can as well be done by you as by me, & some part better, & between us it would be rather a pleasure than a task. If you are not coming I shall repack the books & return them without delay. Not that I want inclination to undertake it, being confident that I could make both a good book & a useful one, – but I do not like to meddle with sea terms unless you are at my elbow, & moreover to do the whole would occupy more time than I can allow for it.

What a wretched Irishman is this Lord Wellington at all times except on the field of battle! after wasting four months in the most unwholesome part of Spain, he has suffered himself to be led a will-of-the-wisp march into Portugal, – just out of the way of the French. [2]  – I have no better opinion of the Marquis  [3]  than of him, – all he did at Seville was to give information to a set of traitors. that the people were about to deprive them of the means of betraying their country! – I have long looked on to a siege of Cadiz. [4]  We might do wonders in annoying the enemy x in their operations there, & along the whole line of coast wherever they are resisted, but neither ins nor outs, [5]  have spirit or sense to do any thing. I have too good an opinion of Jupiter to believe that he means to destroy us, but that he has infatuated us is sufficiently apparent. [6] 

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Lieutenant Southey/ with the Reverend Herbert Hill/ Staunton upon Wye/ Hereford.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[2] Wellington had spent the summer of 1809 in an inconclusive campaign in Spain, though a notable victory was won at Talavera on 27 July 1809. In the autumn he retreated into Portugal behind the impregnable Lines of Torres Vedras. BACK

[3] Marquis Wellesley was appointed Ambassador to Spain in 1809 and arrived in Seville in August 1809 to negotiate with the Supreme Central Junta. Its unwillingness to organise supplies for the British Army while urging a policy of attack led Wellesley (and Southey) to suspect some of the Junta of co-operating with the French, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 756. Wellesley strongly pressed for the Junta to be superseded by a representative Cortes – an outcome that occurred in January 1810. BACK

[4] The French army besieged the Spanish port of Cadiz from 5 February 1810 to 24 August 1812. BACK

[5] Either the government led by Spencer Perceval, or his many political opponents in Parliament. BACK

[6] An adaptation of the proverb, ‘He whom Jupiter wishes to destroy, he first makes mad’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013