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

2336. Robert Southey to John Murray, 27 November 1813 ⁠* 

Keswick. Nov 27. 1813.

My dear Sir

Here then I am once more at my desk, with my books & papers about me, at my own fire side, right glad to {return to} that rest in labour which I have taken for my motto, because in it I find my happiness. The winter is before me, I shall have no interruptions from without, & if it please God that I have none from within, my progress in this campaign will be to my hearts content, & as rapid as you could wish.

First let me write concerning what may be called the Opus Magnum. [1]  I want for it the books of James Moore, Sir K Porter, Neale & Ormsby, all relating to Sir J Moores campaign – these I consulted when writing the Register for 1808, [2]  – but they were returned to Ballantyne, & ought to be reconsulted in recasting this part of the narrative. I want also the enlarged edition of Elliot on the Defence of Portugal. [3]  The State of Portugal during the last 30 years (Lloyd. 1810) [4]  xx The great collection of Buonapartes papers which Lewis Goldsmith has published, [5]  & the Military Panorama. [6]  (the Military Chronicle [7]  I already have.) One more work must be added to this long list, – Coxe’s Spanish Bourbons. [8] 

I had the Times for 1810-11-12 & down to the time when I gave up the Register, [9]  & by a sort of accident got also the Morning Chronicle for 1810. The M Chronicle for 1808-9-11 & 12 & the Times for 1808-9 ought to be among my documents. So also should be Peltiers Ambigu. [10] 

I find also among my desiderata the title of a Spanish Book which may perhaps be obtained in London, sooner than I could procure it from Spain. Coleccion de papeles interesantes del ano de 1808. [11]  This is the only year for which I am deficient in Spanish documents. The deficiency will be in some degree be supplied when I receive from the Junta of Aragon a collection of all their papers which they have sent me thro my friend at Cadiz.

Secondly concerning the Review I shall shortly have three short articles for you, – the Nicobar Islands, [12]  – the Copy-right question, [13]  – & the World before the Flood, [14] Dr Gooch spoke to you about obtaining a reviewal of the life of Schiller [15]  by xx Wm Taylor of Norwich. Wm Taylor is an old & highly valued friend of mine, singular in his style, singular in his opinions, & in many of these very erroneous, but of almost unparallelled ingenuity, & one of the best of men. As a German scholar I believe Coleridge to be the only person who equals him. Of course he will advance no opinions dissonant from those of your Review, & {he} is too much accustomed to see his pecularities of diction altered by an Editor to complain of the exertion of this necessary prerogative. For many years he was the best writer in the Monthly, [16]  when the Monthly stood unrivalled. You will find him a valuable assistant, bringing originality & genius to whatever he undertakes. Gooch told me that he was expecting you would send him the book. Do not delay this, if it be not already done. Whatever he does for you will attract notice & gain credit, & it will be wholesome for him to feel himself in orthodox company.

Was there ever such a succession of tidings of great joy! One thing only is wanting to crown the whole, – the death of the Tyrant. [17]  Pereat iste  [18]  is my prayer. – Yet if his destiny were in my hand I think I should xx condemn him to end his days as a maniac in xx a hospital at Paris. It is in better hands, & sooner or later, vengeance will fall upon his head. – I think the Bourbons will be restored. Whether I wish for their restoration is a question which I should find it difficult to answer.

Believe me my dear Sir

Yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 30 NO 30/ 1813
Seal: red wax ‘S’ and motto
Watermark: C WILMOTT/ 1807
Endorsement: Southey Ro. Esqr/ 27 Novr 1813
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551
Previously published: Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and His Friends, 2 vols (London, 1891), I, pp. 237-238 [in part]. BACK

[1] The History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[2] James Moore (1762–1860; DNB), A Narrative of the Campaign of the British Army in Spain (1809); Sir Robert Ker Porter (1777–1842; DNB), Letters from Portugal and Spain, Written during the March of the Troops under Sir John Moore (1809); Adam Neale (1778?-1832; DNB), Letters from Portugal and Spain (1809); James Wilmot Ormsby (d. 1831), An Account of the Operations of the British Army, and of the State and Sentiments of the People of Portugal and Spain, During the Campaigns of the Years 1808–1809 (1809). They were all used by Southey for his account of Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB) and the Battle of Corunna (1809) in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 431–459. BACK

[3] William Granville Eliot (1767–1845), A Treatise on the Defence of Portugal (1810). Southey requested the expanded second edition of 1811; no. 836 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[4] State of Portugal during the Last Thirty Years; from the Monthly Repertory (1810). BACK

[5] Lewis Goldsmith (1763/4–1846; DNB), Recueil de Decrets, Ordonnances, Faites de Paix, &c. de Napoleon Bonaparte et des Membres de Gouvernement Français (1813–1815); no. 1118 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. This consisted of a series of extracts from the French newspaper Moniteur. BACK

[6] The Military Panorama (1812–1817), nos 1847–1848 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] The Royal Military Chronicle, or, The British Officer’s Monthly Register, Chronicle, and Military Mentor (1811–1817). BACK

[8] William Coxe (1748–1828; DNB), Memoirs of the Kings of Spain of the House of Bourbon (1812); no. 671 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[9] Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1811 (1813). BACK

[10] Jean-Gabriel Peltier (1760–1825), émigré and editor of L’Ambigu a French-language newspaper printed in London under Tory auspices. BACK

[11] Coleccion de Papeles Interesantes del Ano de 1808 (1808); no. 3200 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

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

[13] This article was not completed. BACK

[14] For Southey’s review of Montgomery’s The World Before the Flood (1813), Quarterly Review, 11 (April 1814), 79–87. BACK

[15] Friedrich Schiller’s (1759–1805) life was not reviewed in the Quarterly and Taylor did not become a contributor. See also Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 December 1813, Letter 2357. BACK

[16] Taylor was a salaried reviewer for the Monthly Review 1793–1799. BACK

[17] i.e. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). French forces were in retreat in both Germany (after the Battle of Leipzig, 16–19 October 1813) and Spain (where British forces had crossed into France on 7 October 1813), and an allied victory was increasingly certain. BACK

[18] ‘Let him die himself’. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013