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

1962. Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 10 October 1811 ⁠* 

Keswick. Oct. 10. 1811

The reply of George Taylor [1]  from Durham was that he wished such an opportunity might offer to him five years hence, (– so much of his present lease remaining unexpired) – but that he thought it might suit Mr Thomas Hutchinson. [2]  Mr. H. is the brother of Wordsworths wife, – thro Wordsworth therefore, I have sent him the necessary information, & W. thinks that if he should feel himself settled where it is, still the opportunity is likely to fall in with the plans of a relation of his. Thomas Hutchinson is at present rents a farm not very far from you, being on the edge of Radnorshire, near Kington: – he is an illiterate man, but a very worthy one, & a thorough bred farmer, – & he has money at command, having lately had about 10,000 £ left him by an Uncle. It is very likely that he, or his kinsman (whom I suppose to be a Mr Monkhouse) [3]  will apply to you, either by letter or in person, & in either case they will probably mention my name. Of Monkhouse I know less than of Hutchinson, but he is a respectable man, & likely, I should guess, to be assisted with his cousins skill & capital, if he stands in need of either. – So much for this matter, – of which I shall perhaps hear more speedily, as I am in daily expectation of seeing some of the Wordsworths. [4] 

When your letter arrived, both the Latin & English Gebirs [5]  were on the table. I put them into the hands of Dr Gooch, which is sufficiently saying what my opinion of him is, as it is a maxim with me never to throw pearls before swine, – except in the unavoidable way of publication. One of the last things he said at leaving me this afternoon, was to entreat me that I would entreat you to write another poem. – That no time may be lost about the tragedy [6]  I write by this post to Murray, the publisher of the Quarterly.

You would have had a book of Pelayo [7]  ere this, had not Gooch very unconsciously prevented me. He happens like myself to rise about seven, & found his way into my library, as early as I did. Now poetry is the only thing which I cannot compose if any person be present, – because my voice, gesture & eyes require a freedom, which the sense of any human presence would restrain. What has been written since my return, if it be not good deceives me grievously, for I never produced any thing under the influence of deeper feeling.

I quarrel with our climate because I like the fruits of the South, & feel a positive pleasure in breathing the pure air of Portugal. Its moral effects however are in the main, as you say. Its physical ones very grievous to the poor, – but that is the fault of our imperfect state of society, – & in spite of all the evils which we have seen in our times, & still see, – there never was any age in which held out to us such hopes for poor humanity. I am a good hoper, & am doing my utmost to persuade the ministry & the public to agree with me. My history of 1809 [8]  is full of {this} spirit, – I am told that the Edinburgh Review in a note recommends it for prosecution, as a libel upon that white-livered Whitbread. [9] 

Wakefield, who is about a statistic account of Ireland has been here. [10]  He tells me that when a Methodist gets up to preach to the people, the Catholic priest comes with a horsewhip & lays about him till he puts the congregation to flight. This he has twice been an eye witness of. The Bishop of Meath [11]  also who is lodging here, tells me that when a school had been established in his neighbourhood upon Lancasters sneaking system of xxxxxxxx all do teaching no peculiar religion, the Priest used to way lay the children with the horse whip, & thus literally prevented {kept} the little catholicks by away by main force, when he could not operate upon the minds of their parents. The system of priest-tyranny is carried to its utmost height in that country, – & these are the fellows who clamour for Emancipation!

Our love to Mrs L.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Walter Savage Landor Esqr/ Lanthony/ Abergavenny
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: National Art Library, London, MS Forster 48 D.32 MS 19
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Taylor (1772–1851), gentleman farmer, classicist and occasional contributor to the Quarterly Review: father of Southey’s future friend, Sir Henry Taylor; see Southey to Thomas Southey, 8 September 1811 (Letter 1952) and Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 10 September 1811 (Letter 1954). BACK

[2] Thomas Hutchinson (1773–1849). Since 1808 he had farmed at Hindwell, Radnorshire. His inheritance was possibly from his uncle George Hutchinson (1730–1804). BACK

[3] John Monkhouse (1782–1866), a farmer, in partnership with his cousin Thomas Hutchinson. In 1812 the latter married John’s sister, Mary (1787–1858). BACK

[4] Hutchinson did view the farm but found it unsuitable; see Southey to Mary Matilda Betham, 30 October 1811, Letter 1974. In the event he did succeed in helping Landor find a tenant, Charles Betham (b. 1779). The consequences were disastrous. Betham and Landor were soon in dispute over the rent and the use of the land. The final straw was when Betham’s brother, Frederick (b. 1789/1790), dug up trees Landor had planted. Landor denounced Frederick in a handbill that he personally posted up in Monmouth during the assizes. Betham sued for libel, Landor lost and had to pay £100 in damages. In May 1814 Landor went abroad. BACK

[5] Gebirus (1803), the Latin version of Landor’s Gebir (1798). BACK

[6] Landor’s Count Julian. It was published by Murray in 1812. BACK

[7] The early incarnation of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[8] The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809 (1811). BACK

[9] The radical MP Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB). The threat of parliamentary action was the result of a long aside in the Edinburgh Review, 18 (August 1811), 420–423n, which had questioned whether the ‘virulent personal abuse … levelled at the most respectable members of the Legislature’ in the Edinburgh Annual Register was in breach of Parliamentary privilege and hinted that action against the author and publishers might be taken. In the event, the Edinburgh Review’s suggestion was not acted on. BACK

[10] The philanthropist, land agent and writer on political economy, Edward Wakefield’s (1774–1854; DNB) Ireland, Statistical and Political (1812), no. 3094 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[11] Thomas Lewis O’Beirne (1747–1823; DNB), Bishop of Meath 1798–1823. The son of a County Longford farmer, he had been educated for the Catholic priesthood, but converted to Protestantism and became a Church of Ireland clergyman. He had been a well-known Whig, but by 1811 he was increasingly conservative and a defender of the Church of Ireland. BACK

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August 2013