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

2452. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 28 June 1814 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I have sometimes been inclined to fancy, when taking perhaps a flattering view of my own temper of mind, that if our genealogy could be were revealed it would lead us back to the land of Uz, & to the house of Job. [1]  Your last letter has almost persuaded me that we are certainly Uzzites by extraction, & of Jobs own blood; for, except in his history I know not where to find any thing so patient, so mild, so truly gentle & considerate, as the strain of that epistle, – “What the Devil could he have been thinking about” you say. Putting my old friend Scratch out of the question this perhaps was rather {hasty} on your part, – for putting my old friend Scratch [2]  out of the question, I would I apparent {should have supposed thought} that a man [3]  whose father suffered a stroke of palsy at nine on Thursday night, & died at six on Saturday morning, – might very well be supposed not to be in a state of mind for thinking calmly about my odes on the xxxxxx Friday. Our ancestor in Uz would under such circumstances have forgiven a greater mistake.

It so happened th however that after having written to me he perceived that he had made a blunder, which could not have been made if his mind had not been in a xxxx {so} disturbed a state. The last ode was which reached him on the Friday, was consequently sent to Pople. all possible dispatch was used, the ode was published on the Tuesday, & according to an arrangement between Croker & Longman, sent after the former to Portsmouth, there to be by him presented to the beöded personages. [4] 

And now after your late fit of bile I recommend you by all means to take a dose of Cheltenham salts. [5] 

I received my parcel with the Odes on Sunday, – the it had been sent off on the Wednesday. A note in it informed me that in order for the sake if despatch only 250 had been thrown off, & requested corrections by return of post. There were {are} two material misprints making a wrong sense which is worse than nonsense. p 7. to the sea instead of the sun & p 18 – the breach of Tarragona instead of the beach. I had made also an unfor addition in p. 8 which was unluckily too late. after

Fear Sorrow & Repentance following close;
And War, scarce deigning to conceal
Beneath the mantles folds his armed plight,
Dogging her steps with deadly eye intent,
Sure of his victim, & in devilish joy
Laughing behind the mask.
Not thus doth Peace return,
A bright & glorious visitant she comes –
Honour &c [6] 

I suppose Croker made out the titles of the Beöded in full form, for I did not, & that he entitled the odes congratulatory. And now you know as much about them as I do: – having I suppos dare say received your parcel as soon as I did mine.

I think Lord Cochranes sentence too severe. [7]  it will probably not be inflicted, & in my judgement ought not to have been passed, the offence not being one of those for which a specific punishment has been appointed & no discretion left in pronouncing it. Of course he will persist in his denial; – it is a symptom of grace in him, – & after what has past the choice lay between stiffly braving the clear conviction, – or shooting himself. Nothing can be clearer than his guilt; but the proper consequences of expulsion, loss of honour & of his commission fall heavily enough without anything of greater ignominy. Were I the Prince the pillory & the imprisonment should be instantly remitted; in doing this his former services & his rank in the navy might be so referred to as to produce a good effect. The Prince wants popularity & wants advisers to show him xx how easily it may be obtained. As for the Princess [8]  she is equally impudent & mischievous.

The 22d book of Roderick [9]  may probably be finished tonight. The poem runs to 25 & will very speedily be compleated, – if there be no interruption. – Mrs C & Sara went yesterday to Netherhall. We are all well except Isabel who is very poorly today with teething & a cough.

Love to Sarah – God bless you

RS.

Tuesday 28 June 1814. Keswick.


Notes

* Address: To/ Captain Southey. R. N./ St Helens/ Auckland
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 47890
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Job 1: 1. Job bore his misfortunes uncomplainingly. BACK

[2] ‘Old Scratch’, a nickname for the Devil. BACK

[3] Grosvenor Bedford. BACK

[4] George IV (1762–1830, Prince Regent 1811–1820, King of the United Kingdom 1820–1830; DNB); Alexander I (1777–1825; Emperor of Russia 1801–1825); Frederick William III (1770–1840; King of Prussia 1797–1840). Southey’s Laureate tributes to them were published in book form as Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (1814). BACK

[5] A popular patent remedy. BACK

[6] These lines were too late to have been inserted in Southey’s ‘Ode to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent’, III, between lines 20–21. BACK

[7] The naval officer and radical Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775–1860; DNB). He had been convicted of being part of a massive fraud in dealings in government stocks. He was fined £1000; sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in the King’s Bench and to stand for an hour in the pillory. The latter was remitted. In addition, Cochrane was struck off the navy list, and expelled from the House of Commons and from the chapel of the Knights of the Bath. BACK

[8] Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel (1768–1821; DNB), wife of the Prince Regent. BACK

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

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August 2013