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

2140. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28 August 1812 ⁠* 

Keswick. Aug 28 1812.

My dear Tom

First I ought to tell that the Argentina [1]  has taken its place upon the rico [2]  shelf opposite the door, where it fits better than in the great bookcase. Secondly that I have given Mr Dawe the painter, who painted the great picture of the negro struggling with a buffalo, [3]  a line of introduction to the Doctor & to you, on his intended route to Rokeby Richmond & Wensley Dale. I forgot to tell him that at Rokeby [4]  it will be necessary to send a note from the Inn to ask permission to see the grounds. Dawe is a man upon whom any little expence of civility will be worthily bestowed, for in spite of his appearance, he is an artist of great promise & rapidly rising in estimation. To be sure you will think when you see him that Nature designed him for John Cockbaines [5]  foreman, but he does xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the truth is that his business lies with canvas & not with buckram & that Johnny C himself does not make better use of the one than he does of the other.

You have probably had the first sheet of Nelson. There is to be a portrait, & there will also be plans of the three actions, which will be drawn for me at the Admiralty; [6]  – a piece of civility for which I have to thank Croker. Concerning your affairs I look every day to receive some tidings from Herries thro Bedford, who is here at his old lodgings. Our best interest is gone, but sooner or later, & by one channel or other I have no doubt of getting all you can wish.

I desired Longman to send the Register, Madoc & J Arc with a copy of Brazil [7]  to Durham for you, – the last for Mr Castle. [8]  Madoc is wickedly printed with types which were worn out. Pople I have since learnt does not succeed as a printer, & is about to leave off the business when he has worn out his types; – but he ought not to have disfigured an edition for me.

I wish you had been here last night to have partaken in the general astonishment at opening a parcel which contained a present to me of ––– music to the amount of about seven guineas. Thomsons Collections of Scotch & Welsh Airs with songs & accompaniments. The cause of this is that he wants me to write two songs for him – I refused some four or five years ago, – & now he sends me this present – offers me any price, & writes in such a manner that I could not help promising him to write something however much against the grain & telling him that as for any remuneration these volumes are an overpayment for such trifles. [9] 

Yesterday I returned from Grasmere after a three days absence. Poor Lloyd is again deranged. the fits now come on faster & with more violence, & never did any case appear more utterly hopeless from the constitution & all the xxx habits of the patient. I did not see him, & very unfortunately did not see Mrs Lloyd. she was gone to Hawkshead. She bears it with her characteristic fortitude, but distinctly perceives the whole magnitude of the evil.

The Colonel is arrived – with a wife sufficiently resembling his first in person to strike us all; tho she wants that characteristic sweetness which made every body love Mrs Peachey. This wife also is consumptive, & I have no {little} doubt will leave him again a widower in the course of a very few years. [10] 

Love to Sarah & Miss Margery.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Captain Southey. R. N./ Auckland
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Previously published: Kenneth Curry (ed.), New Letters of Robert Southey, 2 vols (London and New York, 1965), II, pp. 39–41. BACK

[1] Ruy Diaz de Guzman (1558–1629), La Argentina, y Historia de las Descubrimento de las Provinicas de la Rio de la Plata (1612). The copy made by Tom Southey was no. 3836 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[2] ‘rich’ in Spanish. BACK

[3] The history and portrait painter George Dawe (1781–1829; DNB), whose works included ‘A Negro Overpowering a Buffalo – a Fact which Occurred in America in 1809’ (1810). BACK

[4] Home of John Bacon Sawrey Morritt (1771–1843; DNB), traveller and classical scholar. BACK

[5] John Cockbain (dates unknown), Keswick tailor. Southey often commented on his ugliness. BACK

[6] Southey’s Life of Nelson (1813) contained a portrait engraving by an unnamed artist. Its source was an 1800 pencil portrait of Nelson by Simon de Koster (1767–1831). No battle plans appeared in the Life of Nelson (1813). BACK

[7] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1810 (1812); the new editions of Madoc and Joan of Arc, published in 1812; and the first volume of the History of Brazil (1810). BACK

[8] Samuel Castle (d. 1815), Durham solicitor and Tom Southey’s father-in-law. BACK

[9] George Thomson (1757–1851; DNB), whose collections of Scottish, Welsh and Irish songs went into several editions. He commissioned musical arrangements, lyrics and illustrations from numerous British and European composers, writers and artists. Thomson probably sent Southey A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs (1812) and part of A Select Collection of Original Welsh Airs Adapted for the Voice (1809–1817). Southey did not write any songs for Thomson. BACK

[10] Peachy married a widow, Mrs James Henry of Jamaica, in 1812. BACK

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August 2013