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

2072. Robert Southey to John May, 4 April 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 4. 1812

My dear friend

I am perfectly ashamed xx at finding it possible that in a matter of business I should have committed such a blunder, – forgotten it I had not, but had supposed April was the month for payment instead of March. [1]  Thank you for this kindness among many others – I shall be able to replace the sum, & also to remit you 100£ toward the discharge of my debt, from the Register [2]  of this year, – which is more than half printed, & will probably appear in June, – th at least if it be delayed beyond that time it will not be by me.

A Memoir of Mr Walpole [3]  will be in time, – if no time be lost about it. – but as it must appear as a Memoir (for the Chronicle is printed, & the list of deaths is a mere list, it should contain something more than an account of his private merits: how far the history of his public conduct may be divulged, you best know. All I can say is that in remembrance of some civilities receivd from him & Mrs W. [4]  – as well as from that kind of feeling concerning Lisbon, which now begins to be a melancholy one, & which you can very well understand, I should not only be willing but gratified by showing him this mark of respect to his memory. the politics of his time form precisely that part of the hist: of Portugal with which I am least acquainted. But with respect to one matter which was of considerable importance at the time, & must always be so while we have factories in Catholic countries, (that of the attempt to admit xx Catholics into the factory) [5]  I possess my Uncle’s papers. – I should take this opportunity of making the funeral oration of the factory, [6]  – will you therefore have the goodness to transcribe for me that dedication of Tindals which you once pointed out to me in a volume of his Rapin. [7]  – You may perceive that in the act of replying to your proposal, the xxx sketch has formed itself in my mind. –

My volume for 1810 [8]  will be rich in Spanish history. It employs me closely. Remember me to Mrs May

Yrs ever affectionately

R Southey.

Coleridge has left us, & is I suppose by this time in town where he will soon commence a course of lectures at the West end. [9] 


Notes

* Endorsement: No. 157. 1812/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 4th April/ recd. 7 do/ ansd. 13 do
MS: Brotherton Library, University of Leeds
Unpublished. BACK

[1] John May had given Southey advice on insurance policies, so possibly Southey had forgotten to pay the premium due on his policy. BACK

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

[3] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. Southey had been asked to write his life. It was not published. BACK

[4] Sophia Walpole, née Stert (1759–1829), second wife of Robert Walpole. BACK

[5] British merchants who were Catholics were not allowed to join the British Factory in Lisbon – a subject which caused some controversy in the 1780s and 1790s. BACK

[6] The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1810 had formally abolished the British Factory at Lisbon, but it was not finally wound up until 1825. BACK

[7] Nicholas Tindal (1687–1774; DNB), historical writer and translator. He produced a fifteen volume translation of Rapin de Thoyras’s (1661–1725) History of England (1725–1731) and a Continuation of Mr. Rapin’s History of England (1744–1745). The ‘dedication’ might be a reference to Tindal’s address to Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–1751; DNB), in volume 2 of the second edition of the History (1732). This was reprinted in Gentleman’s Magazine, 3 (1733), 356–357, where it was commended for not ‘offering the false Incense of Adulation’, but expressing itself in ‘Plainness and Truth, which is becoming a Freeman and an Englishman.’ The Prince rewarded Tindal with 40 guineas and a gold medal. BACK

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

[9] Coleridge gave a course of six lectures on drama at Willis’s Rooms, London, between 19 May and 5 June 1812. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013