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

2007. Robert Southey to Henry Crabb Robinson, [before 28 December 1811] ⁠* 

My dear Sir

Will you lend those sonnets of Pardo’s [1]  to Blanco White that he may print them in the Espanol? [2]  His address is 18 Charles Street, St James’s, & if you are disposed to form a new acquaintance which is well worth forming, leave your card with them. – Blanco knows your name, & that he is indebted to you for shutting one of the channels of calumny which have been opened against him. [3] 

Blanco is not so staunch a hoper as I am. This is occasioned partly by what old writers would have called his complection, – partly by ill usage – partly by his thorough knowledge of all the internal evils with which Spain has to struggle, & most of all by his deep sense of the dreadful & irremediable effects of the Romish religion. The best atmosphere which he breathes in this country, that of Holland House, is not likely to strengthen his nerves – the little hope which he finds there is not like yours & mine founded upon what is inward and imperishable. – But he has done good service to the cause, & may perhaps yet do better, if circumstances should ever permit him to return. I found him an interesting man & I think him a very valuable one. It is surprizing how thorough a foreigner he is in appearance, tho the grandson of an Irishman: – rather it would be surprizing if the human species were not so soon varied by circumstances. In Botany Bay [4]  it is said that whatever be the complexion of the parents, all the children are uniformly fair & flaxen – & in Ireland the influence of the soil is such, xx that whether you plant Scotchman or Englishman there, the produce is sure to be pure potato.

Hope delayed in the peninsula hath not made my heart sick, – because from the commencement my mind was made up to a Guerra de Mouros, [5]  which will last till it ends in the right way, last as long as it will. Abella (who is the most useful correspondent & purveyor that ever man had) complains of the Cortes, that they interfere x with the Executive, – which is true enough, – & if like the National Convention [6]  they did it to any purpose might be well enough too. There is a lack of vigour in both branches of the Government, & yet far more to praise than to blame in both. There is something Roman in sending out troops to S. America, – would to God that it were in support of a wise policy instead of a weak & mischievous one. [7]  This is a mournful subject, – & both parties deplorably wrong, & the means on both sides evil & the end evil xxxx xx xxx xxxx whichever be xxx successful. I have got Buenos Ayres papers [8]  written in a vile spirit, disbelieving every success of the Spaniards & the English, evidently because they hope it may prove untrue. Just as the Caraccas deputies do not scruple to express their wishes that England would withdraw her troops from Portugal because Spain, they say, would then be subdued, & xx {then} there might be a commercial treaty between G. Britain & Caraccas! [9] 

The Catalans give me good hope because they handle the pen as well as the sword. Abella has sent me two portions of a history of the war in that province by Fr. Xavier Cabanes who was on the staff there, – both bear date in 1809. [10]  I earnestly hope the author may still be alive and in service for he is manifestly a man of great military sagacity. I have also an obrita [11]  entitled Cataluña invencible sin foralezas, e inconquistable con allas, Tarragona 1811. This is an admirable paper: if you and I and Wordsworth had been called upon to lay down a plan of warfare, we could x not have more clearly expressed our own opinions upon this point.

It is reported that Broughams hint in the Edinburgh Review will be taken, & that the Ed: An: Register is to become the subject of a parliamentary motion. [12]  I am not much inclined to believe that this is true, & not much disposed to care whether it be or not, the inconvenience of a journey to London and an introduction to the Serjeant at arms, [13]  being to be set against the advantage which the book would derive from such a proceeding.

I suppose we shall soon see Coleridge in the North. [14] 

Believe me my dear Sir Yrs very truly

R Southey


* Address: To Henry Robinson Esqr/ 56 Hatton Garden
Stamped: [partial] Unpaid
Endorsed: Reced 28 Dec. 1811. / Southey Blanco White/ Ansd. Jan. 9.
MS: Dr Williams’s Library, Crabb Robinson MSS
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 16–18. BACK

[1] Manuel Pardo de Andrade (1760–1832), priest, journalist and poet. He had roused the Galicians against the French through his paper, Diario de la Coruna. For Southey’s account of him see Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol, 1797), pp. 22–23. Southey had read and approved of ‘some of Pardo’s sonnets’ at a gathering attended by Robinson on 24 July 1811; Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and Their Writers, ed. Edith J. Morley, 3 vols (London, 1938), I, p. 41. BACK

[2] El Español, the Spanish-language political journal established by Blanco White, with the discrete encouragement of the British Foreign Office. Published in London, the first number had appeared in May 1810; it ran until 1814. BACK

[3] Earlier in 1811, Blanco White had been abused in print. For example, he was accused of ‘criminal, immoral, and revolutionary conduct’ in a ‘Reply to the False and Injurious Ideas which the 12th number of the Paper called El Espanol conveys of the Memorable Action of the 5th of March, in the Plains of Chiclana’, published in The Times, 9 May 1811. Robinson, who had previously worked for the newspaper, had intervened to prevent any further such publications; see Southey to Joseph Blanco White, 4 November 1811, Letter 1978. BACK

[4] The convict colony at Botany Bay, New South Wales, founded in 1788. BACK

[5] Literally a ‘war of the Moors’; i.e. a conflict that was potentially as long as the struggle for the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian peninsula, from 712 to 1492. BACK

[6] The French National Convention of 1792–1795, which acted as its own executive authority through bodies like the Committee of Public Safety. BACK

[7] Reports that British military aid to Spain had actually been used to try and preserve Spanish rule in its American colonies were causing some outrage at this time, e.g. The Times, 16 January 1812. They referred in particular to the despatch of 4,000 men to fight revolutionaries in Mexico in November 1811. BACK

[8] Probably the Gazeta de Buenos Ayres, which ran from 7 June 1810 to 12 September 1821. BACK

[9] Venezuela had declared its independence from Spain on 5 July 1811. Southey was especially hostile to the Venezuelan revolution, seeing it as a tool of French and American interests, Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 367–394. BACK

[10] Francisco Xavier de Cabanes (1781–1834), Historia de las Operaciones des Exercito de Catalune en la Guerra de la Usurpacion (1809). Southey was eventually sent a third volume; no. 3816 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[11] ‘A small work’; i.e. a pamphlet. Cataluña invencible sin fortalezas, e inconquistable con ellas (1811), signed ‘D. A. V.’ BACK

[12] A long aside in the Edinburgh Review, 18 (August 1811), 420–423n, 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

[13] Francis John Colman, serjeant-at-arms (i.e. the chief law enforcement officer in the Houses of Parliament) from 1805–1811. He died in Portugal on 12 December 1811. His successor was John Clementson (1780–1856), who served in a temporary capacity from January–March 1812, when the post went to Henry Seymour (1778–1844), who held it until 1835. BACK

[14] Coleridge arrived in the Lake District in February 1812 in order to collect copies of The Friend. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013