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

1934. Robert Southey to Robert Gooch, 10 June 1811 ⁠* 

My dear Sir

My influence with the booksellers is not very great, yet I am not without hopes that it may be in my power to open some channels thro which you may benefit the public in a manner profitable to yourself. I have told Ballantyne that I can perhaps procure a life of Beddoes for the next Edinb. Ann. Register, – that is the vol. for 1810, which will be published early in the next year. [1]  The pay is ten guineas per sheet, & the subject may fairly fill {from} two to three. Stocks life will supply you with the leading facts, – but Stock is not a man by any means capable of writing a philosophical account of Beddoes. [2]  Some personal anecdotes I can supply yo communicate, from my own knowledge, & can procure any specific information which you may wish to possess.

Probably also I can introduce you to the Quarterly Review, this however is said far more from a reliance upon you, than upon my own interest in that quarter, for I have never seen either the Publisher or Editor, & after all, personal recommendations would be of no avail, if the papers recommended did not approve themselves. The only sure mode of proceeding is, that you should chuse your own subject & prepare an article. That upon Medical Reform would have done admirably. – You can easily find a text, & I will put your paper into Murrays hands. The pay here also is 10 guineas. – There is no reason why you should confine yourself to a medical subject if any other occurs to you.

These retail employments are the most gainful, – or at least they have this advantage that their returns are immediate & certain. But it has occurred to me that you might, almost with a certainty of equal profit, & with a probability of far greater, employ yourself upon a work which is intimately connected with your profession, & would tend to advance you in it, which in itself is worthy of your time & talents, & would prove a delightful occupation. I mean a history at once popular & philosophical of the art of medicine. There are many I know histories of this art of great extent & prodigious labour: – but they are exclusively professional & from their bulk probably very little known to the profession themselves. What I propose to your consideration is a work wanting in general history, – tracing the origin of the art, following its progress till from a superstition it became a science, explaining the various theories which have encumbered it, & enlivening the detail by biographical sketches, accounts of the various schools of medicine, – & c. it would be a history of diseases also, – that is of the changes in the physical nature of man xxxx produced by changes of habit, & by other causes, as yet unascertained, but some of which you would probably be enabled to discover in the course of your enquiries. Two, three, or four octavo volumes upon such a plan would be sure of sale, & any bookseller, I believe, would gladly contract for them.

You will at once perceive the bearings of a subject like this, & the rank which {such} a philosophical history would hold in general literature.

I shall be in your neighbourhood soon after this reaches you. We set out from home on Tuesday next, & on the Monday following shall probably reach your our journey’s end. After that day you will find me, just in your way to London, at Streatham – at my Uncle’s Parsonage. It will give me great pleasure to see you there, & to introduce you to him. It would give me still more if you could be prevailed upon to make a visit to the North, before you leave Croydon & settle in town. I should be very glad to have you for my guest, – here is a lovely country, – amusement enough both for the botanist & mineralogist out of doors, – & plenty of books for wet weather. And you could take your friend Henry on the way either going or returning. Bear this in mind & believe me

Yours with sincere esteem

Robert Southey.

Keswick. June 10. 1811.


Notes

* Address: To/ Robert Gooch Esqr/ Croydon/ Surry
Postmarks: E/ 12JU12/ 1811; [partial] 10oclock/ JU12
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Manuscripts and Archives Section, New York Public Library, Lee Kohns Collection, Box 15
Unpublished. BACK

[1] See ‘Life of Dr. Beddoes’, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.2 (1812), 516–537. BACK

[2] John Edmonds Stock (1774–1835), Memoirs of the Life of Thomas Beddoes, M.D. With an Analytical Account of His Writings (1811). BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013