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

2165. Robert Southey to Charles Danvers, 29 October 1812 ⁠* 

Oct 29. 1812. Keswick.

My dear Danvers

Thank you for your letter. George’s has arrived this evening, & we are all heartily glad the affair is ended. [1] 

Of course the books &c should come by the waggon, – & this seemed to me so much a thing of course that I did not mention it. The French folio [2]  will supply a few notes for Pelayo, I must call that poem by some other name, either Roderick the Last of the Goths, – which I should prefer if it were not for the title of Scotts poem, [3]  – or Spain Restored. It has advanced rapidly of late. I have xx written four books since we parted at Lancaster.

Longman will send you two copies of the Omniana, [4]  one of which is for Rex. He will find some curious matter for speculation in his own way among the many odd things which are there brought together. Nelsons Life will be ready for you also ere long, – I have corrected six sheets of it. This will be a very beautiful book in its externals. There will be as fine a portrait as can be procured, & Croker supplies me with plans of the three great actions from the Admiralty. [5] 

George tells me he has been warmly interested in your electioneering affairs. I know nothing of the men who have been chosen, but am very glad that Romilly has been unsuccessful, not merely because of his general politics, which would assuredly xxx to tend to make this country a province of France, as a fit punishment & inevitable consequence of selfish cowardice, – but because as a philosophical Lawyer, for on which character he sets up I hold him miserably cheap. [6]  The men of practise deprecate his experiments, & I am xxx the certain that xxxxx those who understand any thing of the nature of man & society despise the pseudo-philosophy from which they spring. Of all absurdities never was there a grosser than to suppose it possible that you can uniformly fit the Law to the offence.

I have now great hopes from the Russian War, which I regarded almost with indifference till it became, as it now evidently is, a war not of xxx state-policy, but of national feeling. [7] 

Who wrote that letter in the Times signed a Bristol Freeholder, in reply to a reproach which that paper had cast upon the Bristol-men for throwing out Romilly. [8]  I was well pleased with the letter, & could have shaken hands with the writer most cordially.

Of the Floating Island there has been nothing to say. After coming near the surface it went down again, – owing to the cold weather says Hutton, – who is probably right enough, tho per I suppose he does not know why. [9] 

The Parrot is arrived, & a great beauty & a great genius in his way, having learnt the names of half the family surprizingly soon.

When you write to S. Reid ask him if he received the H. of Brazil & the Cid, [10]  which I desired might be sent to him, some time ago. I am now closely employed upon the Register for 1811. the whole Bullion subject is at this moment staring me in the face. [11]  Concerning Sicily [12]  & S America [13]  I have procured some good original materials, & I think I shall have room in this volume to touch upon the state of the Negroes in St Domingo, a subject of more importance than it is considered to be in this age when nearer interests of such magnitude are at stake. [14] 

Tell Mrs King that we xxx have Lord Sunderlin for a neighbour. He is just gone to Ireland, but Lady Sunderlin & the two Miss Malones [15]  are likely to winter here. They are excedingly agreable women. Mr Jephson [16]  has been here, – & his daughter with her grandmother Mrs Smith, a delightful old Lady is still here. I have been a good deal in Irish Company this summer. We had a very pleasant man here a Mr Mason – of the Irish Bar, [17]  – nephew to Monk Mas[MS torn] [18]  had a visit from Bushe the Solicitor General [19]  with an introduction from the Bp of Meath [20]  our last years neighbour.

When the first sheet of Madoc [21]  came to me I told Pople that it looked very ill, but that I hoped this was owing to the vile paper upon which the proof was struck off.

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Charles Danvers Esqr/ Bristol
Endorsement: 1812/ 29th Octr
Postmark: KESWICK/ 298
Location: British Library, Add MS 30928
Unpublished. BACK

[1] George Fricker was accused of an assault on a young woman in Bristol; see Southey to Charles Danvers, 7 October 1812, Letter 2154. But the matter seems to have been dropped. Southey certainly believed in George’s innocence. BACK

[2] Pierre de Marca (1594–1662), Histoire de Bearn (1640); no. 1699 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. The book was cited in the footnotes to Roderick (1814), Book XV and Book XVIII. BACK

[3] Walter Scott, The Vision of Don Roderick; a Poem (1812). BACK

[4] Omniana: or Horae Otiosiores, a two volume compilation, including material by Coleridge, published in 1812. BACK

[5] 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

[6] The Whig lawyer and politician Samuel Romilly (1757–1818; DNB), famous for his efforts to reduce the number of offences that carried the death penalty, had been defeated at Bristol in the general election of 1812. The successful candidates were the Tory merchant, Richard Hart Davis (1766–1842; MP for Bristol 1812–1831) and the Whig coal and iron magnate, Edward Protheroe I (1775–1856; MP for Bristol 1812–1820). BACK

[7] France invaded Russia on 23 June 1812, but despite capturing Moscow on 14 September, the French Army was unable to decisively defeat the Russians. On 19 October the French began to retreat. BACK

[8] A letter of 17 October 1812 and signed ‘A BRISTOL FREEMAN’, objecting to the claim (The Times, 16 October 1812) that ‘Bristol has degraded itself by not electing’ Romilly, published in The Times, 21 October 1812. BACK

[9] Thomas Hutton (1745–1831) acted as a guide to visitors to Keswick and owned his own natural history Museum in the town. The Floating Island is a mass of vegetation which is sometimes lifted to the surface of Derwentwater by marsh gas. BACK

[10] History of Brazil (1810) and Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[11] For Southey’s account, see Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 89–114. BACK

[12] See Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 422–437. BACK

[13] See Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 367–421. BACK

[14] Southey’s account of Haiti, as the French colony of St Domingue had become in 1804, after a successful war of independence by the slave population, appeared in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811, 4.1 (1813), 193–196. BACK

[15] Lord Sunderlin’s sisters, Henrietta Malone (c. 1745–1824) and Catherine Malone. BACK

[16] Richard Mountney Jephson (1768–1824), Irish politician and lawyer, and nephew of the playwright Robert Jephson (1736/7–1803; DNB). He was an Admiralty Judge, Judge-Advocate at Gibraltar and 1st Baronet. His daughter was Charlotte-Julia Jephson (dates unknown) and her grandmother Grace Smith née Weatherall (1751/2–1832), wife of Major-General John Smith (1754–1837; DNB). BACK

[17] Henry Joseph Monck Mason (1778–1858; DNB), legal writer and antiquary. He had been called to the Irish bar in 1800 but never practised. BACK

[18] John Monck Mason (1726–1809; DNB), Irish politician, Shakespearean scholar and the uncle of Henry Joseph Monck Mason. BACK

[19] The lawyer and politician Charles Kendal Bushe (1767–1843; DNB), Solicitor-General for Ireland 1805–1822. BACK

[20] Thomas Lewis O’Beirne (1747–1823), Bishop of Meath 1798–1823. The son of a County Longford farmer, he had been educated for the Catholic priesthood, but converted to Protestantism and became a Church of Ireland clergyman. Well-known as a Whig, he was becoming more conservative by the time he met Southey in 1811. BACK

[21] The third edition of Madoc, published in 1812. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013