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

2055. Robert Southey to John Murray, 7 March 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. March 7. 1812.

My dear Sir

The Postscript [1]  is returned by this nights post, & a portion of Iceland will set off tomorrow. [2] 

This Commentary [3]  vexes me. I cannot help feeling that I have been, however unwittingly, the means of involving you in an unpleasant & troublesome business. – Whether any part of it as it now stands be actionable or not our friend Turner would be the best judge, – tho I should think it very likely that it would become the subject of prosecution. It will certainly not be taken up on political grounds, – & men are slow to prosecute upon private ones.

Ld Berners [4]  will come to me from Longmans as part of the series of Chronicles

I am sorry to see the line of conduct which Canning is pursuing, & a little afraid of the bias which it may give to the Review. He has been wrong (to my full & clear conviction) upon the Bullion question, – & if the Q. should follow him over to the Catholic side, it will be greatly to its own injury: [5]  – some injury I am sure has already been done by neutralizing it on that subject.

Yrs very truly

R Southey.

I hope you have received Rodds [6]  book safely.


Notes

* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 10 MR 10/ 1812
Watermark: shield/ 1806
Endorsement: 1812 Mar: 7/ Southey, R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The postscript to Southey’s The Origin, Nature and Object, of the New System of Education (London, 1812), pp. [203]-210. BACK

[2] Sir George Steuart Mackenzie (1780–1848; DNB), Travels in the Island of Iceland, in the Summer of the Year 1810 (1811); reviewed by Southey alongside Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865; DNB), Journal of a Tour in Iceland, in the Summer of 1809 (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 48–92. BACK

[3] At the request of Murray, Southey had read a MS of Landor’s Commentary on Memoirs of Mr Fox, which was ostensibly a response to John Bernard Trotter’s (1775–1818; DNB) laudatory account of his erstwhile employer Charles James Fox. See Robert Southey to Walter Savage Landor, 10 February 1812 (Letter 2034), 11 February 1812 (Letter 2035), 21 February 1812 (Letter 2043) and 23 February 1812 (Letter 2045), and Robert Southey to John Murray, 15 February 1812 (Letter 2039), and 18 February 1812 (Letter 2041). Although the Commentary was printed, Murray eventually suppressed its publication, refusing to issue a book that attacked the Tory government and was dedicated to James Madison (1751–1836), President of the United States 1809–1817, with whom Britain was about to go to war. BACK

[4] John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners (c. 1467–1533; DNB), soldier, diplomat and translator of Jean Froissart’s (c. 1337-c. 1405) Chronicles. Longman published a 15 volume series, that included Berners’ translation as Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1807–1812). Southey’s copy was no. 654 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[5] Canning was in favour of Catholic Emancipation and generally supported the Bullion Committee of the House of Commons, which had reported in 1810 in favour of resuming the link between the currency and gold. BACK

[6] Thomas Rodd (1763–1822; DNB), History of Charles the Great and Orlando, and Other Spanish Ballads (1812). BACK

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August 2013