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

2250. Robert Southey to John May, 23 April 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 23. 1813

My dear friend

I am at present giving up all the intervals I can spare from the pressing occupation of the Register, [1]  to Mr Walpoles papers; [2]  – & as soon as that work is compleated these papers shall be my main employment. They shall then be immediately dispatched according to your direction. Coxes [3]  labours will no in no degree interfere with mine. He is a very laborious & useful writer, & his proposed life of King José, tho it will not save me an hours mor trouble, will certainly be of some advantage in giving me his view of things, & serving as a map of the country over which I am to travel. [4]  I read his history of Austria [5]  a year or two ago; – xxxx the latter part of it may almost be called a new species of history; – he has been so accustomed to diplomatic papers that it is a history of the intrigues of Embassadors, & he writes as if mere diplomacy were the moving principle of the revolutions of empires.

The reviewal of D’Israeli [6]  is mine as you supposed. – I shall get to the press in the course of the summer with my Brazil; – you can hardly conceive how I long to compleat this work. [7] 

Perhaps I may one day be near enough to drink your wine myself, [8]  – & rich enough to drink it daily: meantime at present you can only have my best wishes, for & a good word, which I fear is of little more value than mere good will. – Heber is a man of whom his acquaintance say there is one place in which they will never see him, – at the head of his own table. The fact is that he lives upon the move, & his establishment in Shropshire has nothing to fix a batchelor there, & his home in town is a mere wareho receiving-house for books, where he has barely room for a small breakfast table.

I hope Mrs May is thoroughly recovered. We are going on well as far as concerns ourselves; – but Edith has a brother here, – who came to us for a visit, & is likely to find his last home here. He is labouring under a complicated disease of {the} liver & lungs, which must bring him to the grave. – I see him but little, for I am rarely out of my library except at meal-times; & never sit after dinner except but at such times as I have guests. Still I cannot help feeling a heavy depression of m spirits; & as soon as possible I shall run into Durham for a week or two, for the mere purpose of endeavouring to shake off the effects of this sight of death.

Edith joins me in remembrances to Mrs May

believe me my dear friend

yrs very affectionately

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Endorsement: No. 167 1813/ Robert Southey/ Keswick 23d April/recd. 26th do/ ansd personally
Watermark: C Wilmott/ 1807
MS: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The historical section of the Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[2] Robert Walpole (1736–1810), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, 1771–1800. Southey had agreed to write his ‘Life’, but this project was never completed. BACK

[3] William Coxe (1748–1828; DNB), historian and Anglican clergyman. Coxe had written lives of Robert, 1st Earl of Orford (1676–1745; DNB) and Horatio (Horace) Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797; DNB). BACK

[4] Coxe did not write a life of Jose I (1714–1777; King of Portugal 1750–1777). He was, however, a royal biographer and his Memoirs of the Kings of Spain was published in 1813. BACK

[5] William Coxe’s History of the House of Austria (1807). BACK

[6] Isaac D’Israeli (1766–1848; DNB), Calamities of Authors; Including some Inquiries Respecting their Moral and Literary Characters (1812), Quarterly Review, 8 (September 1812), 93–114. BACK

[7] The first volume of Southey’s History of Brazil had appeared in 1810, the second and third in 1817 and 1819 respectively. BACK

[8] John May had entered the wine business as a partner in the firm Stert and May. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013