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

2465. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, [started before and continued on] 2–3 August [1814] ⁠* 

My dear Tom

It appears to me that Perrin [1]  says what he has to say as well as it can be said, – for matters of this kind can derive no advantage from any ornaments of composition. If the Quarterly Review were open to me, I might perhaps be able to serve him, – but there the ground is occupied by Barrow. [2]  If it would be of any use to him to have the substance of his pamphlett stated as briefly & clearly as possible in the newspapers (the Times or Courier) this I could do, & to this assistance he is very welcome, tho as you well know the subject is little in my way, & I have but too many demands upon my time. However I would do it, if it were wished because I fully acknowledge the importance of his suggestions. The good that I can do will be only to make the thing more public, by putting it within sight of some 15 or 20,000 persons on the same day, – & in return Mr Perrin I dare say will take the trouble of showing me the docks, if ever I should happen to call upon him.

I believe Oliver Goffe will be my next poem, [3]  but the arrangement & developement of the story puzzles me very much. The beginning will need your help. On the way from England being bound to Plymouth in New England, he is driven into the harbour at Cape Cod. Now my Lord Admiral please to tell me what wind would compell him to put into this harbour, & be pleased also to navigate the ship for me from the time that the wind makes them seek shelter till she is safe at anchor. The time is 1675, the season September, the ship a Bristolman of from 2 to 300 tons.

2 August –

I am vexed about this dirty affair of Cornetts. [4]  If however you can show that you have acted according to the Custom of the Service, the equity of the case is plain, & the leaning of the Court will be in your favour, xxxx especially as if the case comes to a trial it will appear in evidence that the fellow is a scamp, – which will have its full weight both with Judge & Jury. You must find out the Master & Purser. Indeed I should conceive that it is more the Pursers affair than yours, – as it is his business to keep the accounts.

My bust arrived this morning broken all to pieces. [5] 

If Harry comes into the north he will make for Keswick first & then I will accompany him into the Bishoprick; – & this I have considered as so likely that I refused a good opportunity of going with Wordsworth into Scotland, who offered me a seat in his old Irish jaunting car. The three last books of Roderick [6]  I expect daily from London. A sheet of the 20th was returned this evening to the printer – notes & texts there are about 15 sheets yet to be printed – this will take not more than three weeks & three more may be allowed for the voyage to London, xxx folding stitching &c – The intended dedication to the Prince was of course destroyed by the Ode; & there would be now neither {no} necessity for it, & consequently no fitness. [7] 

Good night my Lord. I am going to ring for the candle, & begin to transcribe Vol 2 of Brazil for the press. [8]  Bon voyage!

Wednesday. 3 Aug.

I have a note from Harry this afternoon saying it is likely he may get a lift into your county about the middle of this month. It would not be possible for me to join him before the beginning of next. His book will soon be out, – there is but one sheet more to compleat it.

I threaten to convert the head of my broken bust into a scare-crow by setting it upon a mop-stick & accommodating it with one of my hats, any one of which may without much degradation be applied to this useful purpose. The difference between the two sides of the face is not exaggerated; & that which is xx xxxxx not seen where life & motion vary the xx countenance is brought into full view in the dead but faithful resemblance. The immediate cause of the difference is that only the left side of my face is moved in laughter, & as my risible muscles are pretty much exercised (heaven be praised for having made me of laughter-loving complection!) xxxx the one side has had so much more wear & tear than the other. I know not why the face does not appear leaner, all its proportions being made by actual measurement.

Love to Sarah & God bless you

RS.


Notes

* Address: To/ Capt Southey. R. N./ St. Helens/ Auckland
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: British Library, Add MS 30927
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Richard Perring (c. 1767–1839), Clerk of the Cheque at the Royal Dockyards in Plymouth. Perring was best-known for improving the design of anchors. His pamphlet was A Brief Inquiry into the Causes of Premature Decay in our Wooden Bulwarks, with an Examination of the means best calculated to prolong their duration (1812). Southey commended his plans for ‘laying up our ships in ordinary’ (Quarterly Review, 12 (October 1814), 187) and in 1815 offered an article on them to the Eclectic Review; see Southey to Josiah Conder, 28 January 1815, Letter 2546. BACK

[2] John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB), promoter of exploration, author and Second Secretary of the Admiralty, 1804–1806, 1807–1845. BACK

[3] The early name for ‘Oliver Newman’, left incomplete at Southey’s death. In the poem, Newman was the godson of Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658; DNB) and the son of William Goffe (d. 1679?; DNB), Puritan, regicide and major general, who fled to New England in 1660 after he was excluded from the Act of Indemnity after the Restoration. BACK

[4] Unidentified. BACK

[5] A copy of the bust of Southey sculpted by James Smith (1775–1815). BACK

[6] Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814), Books 23–25. BACK

[7] Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), p. 8; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 15 June [1814], Letter 2441. Southey had considered dedicating Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) to the Prince Regent, and sent Bedford a draft dedication; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [30 April-1 May 1814], Letter 2412. He changed his plans, instead incorporating a tribute in 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

[8] The second volume of the History of Brazil was published in 1817. BACK

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August 2013