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

2248. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 17 April 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 17. 1813.

My dear Tom

I do not go to London till a more convenient season, – xxx x & you must come & have some boating & some mountaineering. Next week being Easter week, the boys [1]  are here from school. As soon as they are gone Edith & I remove into the room which they occupy, while our own undergoes the operations of painting & papering. This will disorganize the house for a second week, & the third will be required to get all things to rights again. – After that come as soon as you please, – that is any time after the seventh of May. – You will wonder how one room should make any difference to us at this time of year; – but we have one unhappily occupied by poor George Fricker. He came down in January thinking to enjoy himself; a blood vessel broke in his lungs after he had been here three or four weeks; – from this he seemed to be well recovering. – but {more decided} consumptive symptoms came on, the disease is making a most rapid progress, & I believe he is very far gone. [2] 

Your Nelson [3]  & your Quarterlies [4]  will probably find their way to you next week. My 105£ copyright is gone to the three per cents, & Murray promises another hundred when he prints a second edition, this is very fair on his part, considering all circumstances: for you know he offered me the hundred to enlarge the reviewal into a volume which might be sold for a dollar. [5]  Any labour beyond this was work of supererogation on my part. He & his printer [6]  must share the blame between them for not printing close enough, & I suppose the edition is larger than it would have been if two volumes had been intended. However if it sells well, so as to prove a lucrative speculation to him, I dare say he will make me a third payment, for tho I xxx had no claim to the promised second hundred, certainly had I written these volumes & offered them for sale I would not have sold them for 2 nor even for 300£. – There however they are; – you have made me glad that I have written them; – & they are already worth xxxx five pounds per annum to me & my heirs for ever. I am not a little pleased that the errors were so few & of such little import. – It must have been another Brierly who led the fleet, – & I have a notion that I blundered by xxx saying of the Bellona, taking it for granted it was your Master. [7]  But the books are gone back so that I cannot now ascertain this. Certain however it is that all the documents before {me} gave this name.

It is rather unlucky that this life cannot be reviewed in the Quarterly [8]  where a reviewal could be of such service, – & that {it} is pretty sure of being abused in the Naval Chronicle, [9]  which was originally set on foot by Stanier Clarke. [10]  However I think it will make its way for in spite of all obstacles my reputation seems to ride as buoyant as a pettrel upon the waves. I see myself called “o celebre Southey” [11]  in the Investigador Portuguez, – & in the Español I read of my own “extraordinaire x universal lectura”, – & of my ‘incomparable laborisidad’. [12] 

This latter virtue is likely to have ample scope. Murray has proposd to me to undertake a View of the World, [13]  – I fancy the account of Iceland [14]  suggested led him to think of this. The terms are yet to be settled, but he allows ample room, – three or four quartos & talks of numerous engravings. I like the scheme – because it is so much in the course of my xx previous reading, that I have a great {disposable} capital of material knowledge at my disposal the requisite knowledge, & I know precisely what is to be done. Where to look for materials, & how to use them. Should the scheme be brought to bear as most likely it will, I shall strive to produce such a view of the world in its present state as xxxxx may be referred to will remain a standard work, which will increase in value & in esteem the older it grows. – There is not a part of the globe from Spitzbergen to Sandwich land [15]  about which I have not read something; not a stage of society concerning which I have not at some time or other, x xxxx xxx had occasion to reflect, & scarcely a form of superstition with {of} the causes & consequences of which I have not some knowledge. To systematize all this & making use of other mens knowledge as an architect does of the stones which are hewn from his building the quarry, to give to the whole the character of my own xxxxx mind & thus individualize & appropriate it, would be a worthy work.

Pray thank Mr Castle [16]  for his letter. I am quite of his opinion about the thundering Methodist parson & should be very glad if such a one were to make his appearance here.

Lloyd is better, & has translated several of Alfieri’s plays. [17]  This I recommended him to do last year, & he is likely to compleat the whole of them. Which {The translation} will be an acquisition to our literature, & will do him credit. Wordsworth is made Stamp Distributor for Westmoreland: – the appointment is supposed to be from 4 to 600£ a year. He owes it to Lord Lonsdale. He is about to remove into that delightful house of Mr Norths at Ryedale, – you remember it – Ryedale Mount. [18] 

Perhaps I may go back with you for a week or ten days, to be introduced to my new nieces. [19]  In that case you & I will renew our acquaintance at Rokeby. [20]  We might take the coach to xxxx Brough & walk from thence xxx to Teesdale, calling upon Mr Hutchinsons [21]  on the way.

Wordsworth’s prophecy about the Germans is accomplishing. “She of the Danube & the Northern Sea” [22]  is rising in her strength – & the overthrow of this intolerable tyranny seems according to all human probabilities, to be at hand.

Our love to Sarah – God bless you



* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ St. Helens/ Auckland
Stamped: [partial] KESWICK
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927
Unpublished. BACK

[2] See Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 3 February 1813, Letter 2218. BACK

[3] A copy of the Life of Nelson (1813). A second edition appeared in 1814. BACK

[4] Copies of the Quarterly Review. BACK

[5] Five shillings. BACK

[6] James Moyes (d. 1839), of Greville St, Hatton Garden, London. BACK

[7] Southey had stated that the Bryerly who had led the British fleet through the treacherous shallows at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 was ‘the master of the Bellona’, see The Life of Nelson, 2 vols (London, 1813), II, p. 120. Tom Southey had presumably informed his brother that this man was another Bryerly, and not Alexander Bryerly (dates unknown), Master of Tom’s ship, HMS Bellona. BACK

[8] It could not be reviewed in the Quarterly because it was published by the journal’s publisher John Murray. BACK

[9] The Naval Chronicle was a twice yearly publication, first issued in 1759 and re-founded in 1799. BACK

[10] James Stanier Clarke (1765?-1834; DNB). His 1809 life of Nelson had been one of a number of biographies noticed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. Southey’s own Life was an expansion of this article. His dislike of Clarke was compounded when the latter was appointed Historiographer Royal, a post Southey had campaigned for. BACK

[11] ‘The famous Southey’; in Investigador Portuguez em Inglaterra, 2 (1811), 416. The journal was no. 3409 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[12] El Español, 6 (1813), 45, referring to Southey’s ‘extraordinary and wide-ranging reading’ and ‘incomparable industry’. A set of this newspaper was no. 3214 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[13] Later retitled the ‘Cosmographia’, nothing came of this scheme; see Southey to John Murray, 31 March 1813, Letter 2238. BACK

[14] Southey’s review of Sir George Steuart Mackenzie (1780–1848; DNB), Travels in the Island of Iceland, in the Summer of the Year 1810 (1811) and Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865; DNB), Journal of a Tour in Iceland, in the Summer of 1809 (1811), Quarterly Review, 7 (March 1812), 48–92. BACK

[15] Hawaii. BACK

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

[17] The Italian dramatist Vittorio Alfieri (1749–1803). Lloyd’s translation of The Tragedies of Vittorio Alfieri was published in 1815. It was reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 14 (January 1816), 333–368. BACK

[18] Rydal Mount had been owned by Ford North of Liverpool (1765–1842), between 1803 and 1812, when he sold the house and moved to Ambleside. By 1813 it was owned by Lady Diana Le Fleming (1748–1816), who lived in the adjacent house, Rydal Hall. Wordsworth moved into the house in May 1813 and remained there until his death. BACK

[19] Tom’s daughters, Margaret and Mary-Hannah. BACK

[20] The Yorkshire estate of John Bacon Sawrey Morritt (1771–1843; DNB), traveller and classical scholar. BACK

[21] Possibly Wordsworth’s brother-in-law, John Hutchinson (1768–1831), of Stockton-on-Tees. BACK

[22] Wordsworth’s sonnet ‘A Prophecy’ (1807), line 7. The War of the Sixth Coalition was underway against France in Germany. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013