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

2022. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, 28 January 1812 ⁠* 

I suppose Senhora your letter has given me some vexation, if the utter astonishment into which it has thrown me would as yet let me feel it. — but you know when a man is knocked down in battle, the blow prevents him from feeling the wound. If you fancied in any expression of mine that you perceived the language of wounded pride & wounded feeling, — in your fancy alone could it possibly have existed. Nature has given me enough of both, but time has taught me not to make a fool’s use of the one, & the other being of the right kind, has never been in any danger of being misdirected. What I said, I do not remember; — for it was in perfect good-humour & forgotten as soon as said; — but whatever it was, the Devil take to, I say now, & no farther comment will I make upon it. You ought to have known that I neither could have been offended myself or have intended to hurt you, — & you ought to be cart’s-tailed for not knowing it, & waggon’s-tailed for chewing the cud of your anger for ten days. Enough, & too much of this. [1] 

I cannot tell what you mean about Ennerdale [2]  — all I know is that it was sold for 7000£, which was thought a good bargain, & that if I had been rich I would have bought it.

There is a criticism upon Miss Seward’s letters in the British Review which undervalues both them & her. Perhaps you have not seen this journal, which is one from the Long-Man’s manufactory. [3]  It is set up by persons who are Addingtonians [4]  in politics & Hannah-Morians in religion. Of course they are a little over-godly, a good deal over dull, even to being “gay and dull” [5]  otherwise with good notions in the main. Miss Seward is not religious enough for them, nor moral enough — You do not tell me whether Lister is reviewing her Letters. [6]  Murray expects that he is from what I told him, — but do not misunderstand this phrase, — it is not that I have pledged L. to do it, — but that I have prepared Murray to receive it from him, & secured for him the ground if he chuses to occupy it.

I am closely busied upon the Register for 1810, of which the sixth proof is now before me. [7]  Have you seen that for the preceding year? the second siege of Zaragoza, & that of Gerona would interest you. — & I think you will enter into the feeling with which I have written concerning Sir J Moores retreat. [8]  — My reviewal of the Bell & the dragon business is reprinting in an enlarged form & will make a little volume. [9]  As giving the real history of the invention, & shewing more clearly than has been done elsewhere what the principle of the New System is, & what its fundamental laws, it has some permanent utility. It shall be sent you as soon as it is published.

The Shelleys  [10]  are going to Ireland, where he imagines he shall tame the wild Irish, — about as good a scheme as that of Atheisticating the Bench of Bishops. He had better have remained here, where he would have learnt more in a few months from my experience, than his own can possibly teach him in as many years. I am sorry he is going for he had interested me much.

Farewell Senhora I have written that you may no longer mistake the meaning of my last, — & the cause being thus removed I trust the effect will cease. So God bless you & forgive you your trespasses.

Yrs affectionately


Keswick. Jany. 28. 1812.


* Address: To/ Miss Barker
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 380–382
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The nature of this disagreement is not clear. BACK

[2] Ennerdale, a small lake southwest of Derwentwater. The identity of the estate at Ennerdale being discussed is unclear. BACK

[3] Letters of Anna Seward: Between 1784 and 1807 (1811) was reviewed unfavourably in the British Review, 2 (September 1811), 171–188. BACK

[4] Henry Addington, Lord Sidmouth (1757–1844; DNB), Prime Minister 1801–1804, Home Secretary 1812–1822. In other words, the Review was Tory, Anglican and pious. Its editor was William Roberts (1767–1849; DNB). BACK

[5] Edward Thompson (1738–1786; DNB), Trinculo’s Trip to the Jubilee (1769). BACK

[6] Thomas Lister (1773–1828) of Armitage Park, near Lichfield. He was a lawyer and landowner, who in his youth had been a writer and protégée of Anna Seward. No review of her Letters (1811) appeared in the Quarterly. BACK

[7] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812). BACK

[8] For Southey’s account of the sieges of Zaragoza (1808–1809) and Gerona (1809) and of Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1809, 2.1 (1811), 508–525; 768–786; 56–108. BACK

[9] The Origin, Nature and Object of the New System of Education (1812), an expansion of Southey’s review in Quarterly Review, 6 (August 1811), 264–304. BACK

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August 2013