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

2076. Robert Southey to Neville White, 12 April 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick, April 12. 1812.

My Dear Neville,

I lose no time in replying to your letter, though the point upon which you consult me is one upon which your own opinion is sufficient. In matters of business nothing is so desirable as to deal with persons of whom we think well. I, myself, have full confidence in Longmans’ house, as is, indeed, apparent by my long connection with them.

We were, indeed, improvident in ever adding to the “Remains,” but it was a very excusable error, arising from a desire to make the work as complete as possible. [1]  However, something no doubt may yet be gleaned, and this letter [2]  of which you speak is an earnest one. There is no danger of incurring the charge of book-making; “Illustrations” being the title, the purchaser knows that he is buying embellishments for the “Remains,” and the additional pieces which he may find there are so much clear gain. It would be needless to send me the “Illustrations of Scott,” of which you speak. I have seen some, and perhaps the one which you may mean, and I know the nature of such publications. [3]  Nothing need be done to the new edition. [4]  The fortune of the book is made, and I am not surprised at the price for which the share sold. [5]  No doubt the value will rise, and become equal to any of our standard books.

I have no time to reply to the other parts of your letter, save only to congratulate you on James’s progress. [6]  I never doubted that he would do well, if he only hoped enough, and did not work too much. Two hours a day to mathematics is as much as he ever ought to give it. My advice to a young collegian would always be, “Do not be too ambitious of University honours;” they are like provincial tokens, which pass current only upon the spot, and have only a temporary value there. Even there a man makes his way by the weight of his general character for conduct, ability, and acquirements. But this would lead me further than I have leisure to follow it.

I am disappointed at your change of resolution. But it depends wholly upon circumstances, and no doubt will change again as they brighten upon you. God bless you,

Yours affectionately,


P.S. Thank Josiah Condor for me. [7]  Will he not send some communication of his own as he gave me reason to hope?


* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856)
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 260–261. BACK

[1] Corrected, expanded 4th and 5th editions of the Remains of Henry Kirke White had appeared in 1810 and 1811. BACK

[2] What the letter contained is unknown. BACK

[3] Neville White seems to have proposed a volume of prints of places celebrated in his brother’s poems. This was intended to complement and capitalise on the popularity of Henry Kirke White’s Remains. Neville White’s model was probably Illustrations of Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel: Consisting of Twelve Views on the Rivers Bothwick, Ettrick, Yarrow, Tiviot, and Tweed: with Anecdotes and Descriptions (1810). This had been published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, which in turn might explain Neville White’s determination to move publication of future editions of the Remains away from the congerie headed by Vernor, Hood and Sharpe. See also Robert Southey to Neville White, 18 March 1812, Letter 2062. BACK

[4] The sixth edition of the Remains, published in 1813, contained no new material, though the order of contents in the first volume changed slightly. BACK

[5] Presumably, the share in the Remains owned by Vernor, Hood and Sharpe and sold to Longman. BACK

[6] James White was an undergraduate at Cambridge; see Southey to James White, 16 February 1812, Letter 2040. BACK

[7] . On 18 March, Southey had asked Neville White if Conder could supply him with another copy of James Montgomery’s ‘Verses, Written on a Blank Leaf in the “Hymns for Infant Minds”’, which appeared in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810, 3.1 (1812), xcii–xciii; see Robert Southey to Neville White, 18 March 1812, Letter 2062. Conder’s own verses were rejected and did not appear; see Southey to Neville White, 27 September 1812, Letter 2151. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013