2408. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 April 1814 

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

2408. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 26 April 1814 ⁠* 

Keswick. April 26. 1814.

My dear Tom

I wish you had been here when the whole news came. [1]  Bedford sent me a fifth edition of the Courier (my regular one was but the second) & Courtenay [2]  sent me a printed bulletin, – the first I ever saw. It brought Calvert down, & we drank a bottle of wine with better relish than ever wine had before, for tho Calvert was a great fearer & doubter all thro the contest, – his opinions never in the slightest degree affected his wishes, & he was as well disposed toward Buonaparte as I myself. – Now that we may look onward with coolness to the consequences I see two things to be deprecated, xxxx xxx xxx candour & liberality, – that is to say the continuation of folly, weakness & want of principle, to which are at present known by those names. We shall probably see much irretrievable mischief done by both.

You have seen Calvus’s last letter in the Courier. [3]  Landor is the writer. I entirely agree with him that this is the time for undoing the mischief which was done by the Peace of Utrecht. [4]  Woefully has it been shown that France was then made too strong for the repose of Europe. She ought now to be stript of Alsace Lorraine & Franche-Compte. There is certainly no possible pretence for expecting that we should restore any of our conquests. I am willing that it should be done, because the French colonists never will be English, & it will be better for them to be under their native government than ours: but for this we have a right to demand something, & I would have the compensation in money which xx should form the basis of a fund for increasing the pay of army & navy upon the system xxx which you & I have so long recommended. France cannot pay at present; – the conquests should be retained till she could, & “no trust.”

Here we shall be told of liberality; – the cry is already begun, the French know what it means. The Whitbreads & the Grey-Geese [5]  use it because it is a pretty word, & as our ministers are much more likely to be flattered with being called liberal by their opponents that to console themselves with the thought of being called wise by posterity, liberal I dare say they will be. We shall hardly {in our time} feel the evil xx xxx xxxx which must result but we may distinctly see the good which is lost.

Candour is already mischievously successful. Alexander, [6]  a weak tho a good man has been to breakfast with Ney, [7]  – & there is not a thief ruffian & murderer among all those who have acted up to the full spirit of Buonapartes system, who will {be} hissd out of society; xxx {as for} Cardinal Maury, he suffers as a Cardinal who has sinned against the Pope, & as a man who if he had not gone over to the wrong side would have had the most signal merits to plead for his xxxxxxx in behalf of the Bourbons. [8]  You know how earnestly I xxxxxx used to urge that while we were at war, we should distinguish between Buonaparte & the French people. The fitness of that distinction is proved by the act of deposing him & xx making peace with the world being one & the same. But we must not let this rob the French army of the whole merit of their conduct in his service. Certes it was B. who sent them into Spain; but it is the who did the work there – who were they who robbed, ravished, burnt, tortured & murdered wherever they went? they were the soldiers the officers & {the} generals of the most amiable of nations. It was not Buonaparte who did all this, it was xxxxxxxx Jean F. – or Jean B – in his own damnably appropriate designation, – & it shall not be my fault if the people of Spain & Portugal do not admit the French to that place in their affections which used to be occupied by the Jews. They ought to be the Jews of Europe; – a people politically excommunicated, & never to be forgiven, & above all never to be trusted.

You will guess that if ever I go to Paris it must be before my history [9]  is published. – I shall therefore when when next I go to London, whenever that may be, run over & take a round of five or six weeks.

I receive many congratulations upon the accomplishment of my hopes & expectations, & am in some danger of being suspected for a prophet, – a danger of which my friends the Edinburghers are quite clear. The cudgels were taken up for me with good effect in the Times, & I have {had} my last thundering Ode reprinted there to accommodate Jeffrey, & enable him to bring my hopes & predictions to the same test whereby I to which I brought them {his}, – by comparing them with the events. [10]  – I shall have at him again in more notes {to another ode}. [11] 

I am in the 18 book of Roderick. [12]  We are all well & shall be right glad to see your Lordship. Huzza for marooning parties. I wish Sarah were to accompany you. We must have you all bag & baggage when you are unhoused. Ediths love & mine & so

God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ St. Helens/ Auckland
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), II, pp. 350–352 [in part]. BACK

[1] Napoleon was exiled to Elba under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, signed on 11 April 1814, and was given sovereignty over the island and permitted to retain the title Emperor. Newspapers on 25 April 1814 carried the news that Napoleon had left for Elba and Louis XVIII (1755–1824; King of France 1814–1824) was on his way to Paris. BACK

[2] Thomas Peregrine Courtenay (1782–1841; DNB), MP for Totnes 1811–1832 and Secretary of the Board of Control 1812–1828. He had previously been a civil servant at the Exchequer, where he probably met Grosvenor Bedford. BACK

[3] Landor had published Letters Addressed to Lord Liverpool: And the Parliament on the Preliminaries of Peace (1814), under the pseudonym ‘Calvus’. This demanded that Napoleon be deprived of all his power, preferably his life, and that France at least be stripped of all territory acquired since the French Revolution. The Letters were modelled on Junius’s. Landor had originally sent 3 of the letters to the Courier. He then prepared them for separate publication, adding a fourth letter. The Courier had published part of this fourth letter on 12 January 1814. BACK

[4] The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) ended the long-running War of the Spanish Succession. It was widely-criticised in Britain for being too lenient to the French. BACK

[5] The Whigs, as supporters of Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815; DNB) and Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845; Prime Minister 1830–1834; DNB). BACK

[6] Alexander I (1777–1825; Tsar of Russia 1801–1825). BACK

[7] Michel Ney (1769–1815), Marshal of France. He had played a key role in the French campaigns in the Iberian peninsular in 1808–10, but in April 1814 had been instrumental in forcing Napoleon to abdicate. The Times, 21 April 1814 reported that Alexander had breakfasted with Ney on 16 April. BACK

[8] Jean-Sifrein Maury (1746–1817), Archbishop of Paris since 1810, had been imprisoned in the Castel Sant’Angelo for disobeying Papal orders to surrender his functions as archbishop during the Napoleonic regime. He had previously been a servant of the exiled French monarchy, acting as their ambassador to the Papal court. BACK

[9] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War, eventually published 1823–1832. BACK

[10] Southey’s feud with Jeffrey continued unabated. The notes to ‘Carmen Triumphale’, published in the Courier, 8 January 1814, had attacked the personalities and politics of the Edinburgh Review. The review of the ‘Carmen’ in Edinburgh Review, 22 (January 1814), 447–454, retorted: ‘For our own parts, when we are seriously occupied with the destinies of Europe, or of mankind, we should think very contemptibly of ourselves, if we could permit the recollection of our differences with Mr Southey to intrude either into our writings or our thoughts’ (452), before going on to criticise his support of the Spanish and acceptance of the Laureateship. The Times, 7 April 1814 had printed an attack on the Edinburgh’s criticisms of Southey; and The Times, 21 April 1814 reprinted the ‘Ode Written During the Negotiations with Bonaparte’, in a corrected version and retitled ‘Ode; Written in January, 1814’. A short headnote again defended Southey against the criticism levelled against him in the Edinburgh Review. BACK

[11] Probably Southey’s proposed – but unexecuted – ode celebrating the peace of 1814. BACK

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

Published @ RC

August 2013