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

2384. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 2 March 1814 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

It is fortunate that the Dutchmen proved beyond the skill of the bookbinder, for the set turns out to be imperfect. [1]  Will you the next time you go to Gooch’s call at Lackingtons [2]  & say this. The case is this, there are the number of volumes which the Catalogue specified viz. 29. But the 7th vol. is wanting, & the thirteenth being in two parts (or what Cobbett would call a double-volume) makes up the number. – I make no doubt but that the bookseller will readily exchange it. Tell the circumstances & remind them when & by whom the book was bought, & when they promise to exchange it – I will send it back by waggon, & of course the carriage {of course} must be at my loss – & I will chuse from their catalogue, as soon as I can get it other books to the same – or a greater amount.

I desired Bedford to give you the 12 & 13th book of Rodericks, [3]  – two more will very shortly be ready, – the printer keeps spurring me on, – I have corrected nine sheets.

One of our servants has a cough which I am certain must be the tussis ferina, or second hooping cough. For she has had the hooping cough; this certainly is not infectious, & she hoops with it so as to disturb the whole house. Have you ever met with a case of this most rightly – named disorder? Henry Bedford has had it. And do you know any remedy for it, besides the slow one of patience, or the, in this case, impracticable one of change of air? It is curious that the disease should be undistinguishable from hooping cough by any other circumstances than its not being infectious, – which means I suppose in other words that xxx the hooping cough in the very rare instances of its recurrence is always mitigated in this degree, – not to the patient, but to – the more remarkable because the patient seems to suffer as much.

I am very ill pleased at the aspect of public affairs. A moving mind is equally wanted at home & abroad. It is disheartening to see that the experience not only of former times, but {even} of their own is lost upon our statesmen. They themselves made the peace of Amiens, & they have the execrable example of the peace of Utrecht before them, & yet we are likely to have the folly of the one & the sin of the other united in a third peace which will be more injurious to Europe than any before it. [4]  – Did you see my ode in the Courier? [5]  They must go to somebody else to write odes upon peace for them.

Standert has never answered the letter in which I asked him for his case. [6]  – Have you among your memoranda that John Wesley in his Primitive Physic (it is a book worth buying) mentions human milk as a remedy for consumption, & xxx I if I remember rightly states that his father was recovered by its use. [7]  A case not less memorable is that of the Alva, the famous & bloody Alva; – the last remedy to which he had recourse in a decline induced more by vexation than any other cause was a womans breast. [8]  When his cruelties are remembered, the fact becomes one of the most striking in history. Should you have occasion to mention it, I dare say I can hunt out the authority for you; – it is either Conestaggio [9]  or Linschoten, [10]  but I believe the latter.

Dr Sayers should review the Synonimes, [11]  if he is well enough to do it. He writes in the Quarterly, & the subject is not out of his way. I would do it if I could, but it is out of my reach, except for that sort of general praise, laudatory extract & g desultory comment which would do for other reviews but does not accord with the plan of the Quarterly.

How is Mr Gonne going on? – Has the Marquis had his Wedding Cake [12]  from Doctor Dooch –? I owe that said Doct[MS torn] a letter – & it will not be long the debt will be discharged.

I am getting on with my Brazil [13]  at present, & hesitating among many subjects on projected poems on which to begin when Roderic [14]  is finished. Perhaps a Persian or a Manichæan Romance in Thalaban metre verse. [15]  – the latter more likely of the two, Mani having more imagination than Zoroaster. [16] 

God bless you


March 2. 1814.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey./ Queen Anne Street/ Cavendish Square/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 5 MA 5/ 1814
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. d. 3
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Unidentified books, probably on Dutch colonial history; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 December 1813, Letter 2357. BACK

[2] The London booksellers and publishers Lackington, Allen and Co, at this time headed by George Lackington (1777–1844; DNB). BACK

[3] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814); see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 18 February 1814, Letter 2379. BACK

[4] The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) ended the War of the Spanish Succession and was widely regarded as too lenient towards France; the Treaty of Amiens (1802) provided a temporary respite in the war with France, which was resumed the following year. BACK

[5] ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, published in the Courier, 3 February 1814. BACK

[6] Southey was collecting information for Henry Herbert Southey’s Observations on Pulmonary Consumption (1814), and had promised to write to Standert for information on consumptive cases; see Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 28 December 1813 (Letter 2357) and Southey to Hugh Chudleigh Standert, 21 December 1813 (Letter 2353). BACK

[7] John Wesley (1703–1791; DNB), Primitive Physic, 20th edn (London, 1781), p. 45, which noted ‘In the last stage [of pulmonary consumption], suck an healthy woman daily. Tried by my father [Samuel Wesley (1662–1735; DNB]’. BACK

[8] The governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba (1507–1582). BACK

[9] Southey was probably thinking of Jeronimo de Franchi Conestaggio (c. 1530–1618), Delle Guerre della Germania Inferiore (1614). BACK

[10] John Huyghen van Linschoten (1563–1611), Discours of Voyages into y Easte and West Indies (London, 1598), p. 3: ‘the Duke of Alva died in Lisbon, in the King’s palace … who, during his sickness, for fourteen days, received no sustenance but only women’s milk’. BACK

[11] William Taylor’s English Synonimes Discriminated (1813). Sayers did not review it for the Quarterly. BACK

[12] Robert Gooch had married for the second time in January 1814. BACK

[13] The second and third volumes of The History of Brazil appeared in 1817 and 1819. BACK

[14] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[15] i.e. in the metre of Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). Neither romance was written. BACK

[16] Mani (216–276) was the founder of the dualistic Manichean religion; Zoroaster (11th/10th century BC) was the prophet of Zoroastrianism. BACK

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Published @ RC

August 2013