2133. Robert Southey to John Murray, 5 August 1812

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

2133. Robert Southey to John Murray, 5 August 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. August 5. 1812.

My dear Sir

The thought of such a dedication [1]  as you hint at had past across my mind, – arising equally from a feeling of respect toward C – as the author of Talavera, [2]  & from a sense of some very essential kindness shown me in the person of my brother when I was last in town. [3]  Things of this kind I am apt to think of, with some degree of eagerness at first, – then to hesitate about, & usually to omit them – rather from the want of any person upon the spot who should say to me ‘do this’ – than from any better reason. This therefore shall be done. – There is a quotation from Ulm & Trafalgar placed at the end of the sketch in the Review by Mr Gifford, [4]  – not by me, – for to confess the truth I never saw the poem. If you think it contains a more appropriate one, send it me that I may have the pleasure of selecting for myself, – otherwise this may stand. – I have been looking over the Songs of Trafalgar [5]  since your letter arrived. – It will be very easy to add the contents of each chapter in each <the> proof. –

I could wish to give plans of the three battles [6]  if there did not seem to be two objections, – first the difficulty of making them distinct upon so small a scale, & secondly because the readiest way would be <to> copy those in these xxxx huge twenty-pounder volumes before me, a thing not to be done without leave, & the leave is not to be asked, after the manner in which I was compelled to speak of the execution of that work. [7]  By the time I am as competent a judge of that work as any person is likely to be, & the more I farther I proceed with it, the more feelingly do I perceive the value of the materials, & the incapacity of the compilers to whom they were entrusted. – However there must be other plans in existence which there need be no delicacy about appropriating to our use, – & if they can be so compressed as reduced as to remain distinct within the compass of a page they would materially elucidate the description. Perhaps this might be contrived by giving the whole page to the plan, & placing the references on another leaf. – Having got thro the Battle of the Nile to day I have felt the xxx <importance> of such auxiliaries.

But my principal reason for replying thus immediately to your letter is to say that for the two articles proposed for your next number, [8]  there are two books which ought to be before me, & which may conveniently come with the number now about to be launched. Balfours Battle of Roncesvalles, [9]  – a worthless poem I dare be sworn, – but it is upon our text & ought to be alluded to, – & an Account of the Public Charities, [10]  there is such a book tho I do not know its title.

I will take care of the Nicobar Islands [11]  – Books of Travels I am always glad to review.

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ Mr Murray/ Fleet Street/ London.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 8 AU 8/ 1812
Watermark: shield/ 1806
Endorsement: 1812 August 5th/ Southey. R –
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813) was dedicated to Croker. BACK

[2] Croker’s The Battles of Talavera, first published in 1809 had gone into nine editions by 1812. It was written in the style of Scott’s Marmion (1808). BACK

[3] Croker had helped in Tom Southey’s promotion to Captain in 1811; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 4 August [1811], Letter 1943. BACK

[4] George Canning’s Ulm and Trafalgar (1806), p. 7, quoted in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 262; used by Southey as an epigraph to the Life of Nelson. BACK

[5] Croker’s Songs of Trafalgar (1806), quoted by Southey in Life of Nelson, 2 vols (London, 1813), II, p. 228. BACK

[6] The Battles of the Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801) and Trafalgar (1805). No battle plans appeared in the Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[7] Southey was thinking in particular of James Stanier Clarke (c. 1765–1834; DNB) and John McArthur (1755–1840; DNB), The Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, K.B. from his Lordship’s Manuscripts (1809), which he reviewed in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[8] Southey’s article on the poor, Quarterly Review, 8 (December 1812), 319–356, described as ‘an attack upon Malthus’, amongst others, see Southey to Charles Danvers, 5 January 1813; and his proposed article on Spanish ballads, which was not written. BACK

[9] John Belfour (1768–1842; DNB), Spanish Heroism; or, the Battle of Roncesvalles. A Metrical Romance (1809). BACK

[10] Possibly Anthony Highmore (1758/9–1829; DNB), Pietas Londinensis: the History, Design, and Present State of the Various Public Charities In and Near London (1810). Highmore was a solicitor who took a keen interest in charitable concerns, serving as secretary to the London Lying-In Hospital. BACK

[11] Johann Gottfried Haensel (1749–1814), Letters on the Nicobar Islands (1812), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 11 (April 1814), 57–72. BACK

Published @ RC

August 2013

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Keswick (mentioned 1 time)