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

2560. Robert Southey to John Murray, 25 February 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 25 Feby. 1815

My dear Sir

I return Mr Nuttalls MSS [1]  by this mail, & send with it my copy of Bleda [2]  for the use of your friend, [3]  & a small packet for Mr Bedford.

Tho the Travels are not all that might be wished they xxx {contain} a great deal of curious information. For my own taste I could wish the writer had been more of a journalist, & given to his narrative that connected interest which the recital of personal adventure can hardly fail to excite. But physical science is his favourite pursuit, & upon these things, I who know nothing, take it for granted that every man who writes at all writes with a competent knowledge of his subject. A very considerable part of the book is thus occupied filled. [4]  He has added a great deal to what Lewis & Clarke told us, [5]  as far as his travels extended; & possesses all that science which they wanted. On the whole I should say that, tho not a first-rate book of travels, it is well worthy of publication

Thank you for Gibbon, [6]  the E Indian Gazetteer [7]  &c- &c. The portrait of Gibbon which the Preface announces, is wanting. [8]  It may come in one of your next parcel, when you happen to think of it, – & likewise, if you please, the third volume of the Somers Tracts. [9] 

The Jews & the Catholics will both form prominent parts of the article upon Gregoires book, [10]  for which I have read largely, & which is only laid aside for Wellington [11]  & Egypt, Egypt, in consequence of Miots second edition [12]  having a sort of temporary interest, which any lapse of time might at some degree abate.

This young soldier is met with in happy time; [13]  – it is a piece of good fortune which I have always thought likely to turn up. In making out a list of subjects it would be necessary to know what number of prints you would determine on. As for any historical prints as they are called, & views of battles, they must of necessity be either so false, or so imperfect, that the book is better without them. Plans of the great battles will doubtless be required, – these may all be obtained from the War office, (indeed I have most of them) & may perhaps like those of the War office, be as well & more economically given in stone-etching than in any other way. For views I should like a good head-piece to every chapter, better than a few large prints; & tail-pieces of costume (which might perhaps be more conveniently executed in wood) to be placed where the end of a chapter happened to afford room for them. [14] 

With the regard to portraits, it will I suppose be indispensable that Lord Wellington should stand as a frontispiece to the book which records his progress to a Dukedom well-deserved. But after giving him a whole copper to himself, may we not, xxx xxx xx xxx xx, arrange several heads upon one plate, connected in some tasteful way, as in Bowyer’s Hume? [15]  In that case one plate might hold Sir J. Moore, Generals Hill, Grahame & Beresford, & perhaps Crawford & Mackinnon [16]  who both fell at Ciudad Rodrigo. Of Spaniards, the old King & Queen, Ferdinand, the Prince of Peace, (I have a print of him) – Jovellanos (a bust of him is at Holland House) – Palafox, Mina & xx the Empecinado. [17]  The Portugueze who supplied such excellent men, gives us I think but one officer prominent enough for selection – which is Silveira, [18]  & they will be woefully offended at any apparent disrespect. So let us have Silveira & the Prince of Brazil. [19]  Two plates might hold all these; one a royal one with the Prince of Peace, whom it would be a pity to divorce from the old King & Queen, & Jovellanos with some emblem of captivity about him, to shew that he was their victim; the other might contain the four military men, to whom we might add, if portraits are procurable Romana, Alburquerque, Blake & Castaños. [20]  If there be any Frenchmen they should be Junot, Soult, Victor, Massena, Marmont, Jourdan, Suchet & King Joseph [21]  himself, all of whom Wellington has beaten in succession, – & all of whom may show their faces out of one pillory.

The views of most importance are Zaragoza, Gerona, xxxxx, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Coruña, Valencia, Cadiz, Salamanca, Victoria, St Sebastians, Pamplona, Burgos, Busaco, Talavera, Porto; – if you determine upon having vignettes I would then add to the list, The Buen Retiro at Madrid, Aranjuez, the Escorial, Belem (from whence the Prince of Brazil embarked) Hostatrich, Barcelona, Astorza, Bayonne, Santarem, the Bridges of Amarante, S Payo, & Almarez, Tarragona, Alcobaça; & some of the passes which it is not possible that I can point out but which may easily be selected from the soldier-article portfolios. The Puente del Corcul would give a good idea of the country thro which Sir J Moore fled: Neale [22]  has a print of it, which according to my note made on the spot, & a sketch which I possess is incorrect in the number of arches. As he was in a greater hurry than we were I have no doubt that the inaccuracy is on his part. –

I shall wait for Egypt the first Receuil which L. Goldsmith published of Buonapartes Manifestos Proclamations &c; & the last volume for Spain you know I have the intermediate four. [23] 

believe me my dear Sir yours very truly

R Southey


Notes

* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 28 FE 28/ 1815
Seal: red wax, design illegible
Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co/ 1811
Endorsement: 1815 Feb 25/ Southey, Rob
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The British botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859; DNB), who had emigrated to America in 1808. In spring 1811 Nuttall had travelled 1500 miles up the Missouri river, plant collecting in hostile territory. Nuttall kept a journal of some of his travels; see J. E. Graustein (ed.), Nuttall’s Travels Into the Old Northwest: An Unpublished 1810 Diary (1951). He had possibly approached Murray with a view to publication of an account of his 1810 or 1811 expedition. In turn, Murray had sought Southey’s opionion on Nuttall’s MS. Murray did not take Southey’s advice regarding publication. BACK

[2] Jayme Bleda (1550–1622), Coronica de Los Moros de Espana (1618); no. 3346 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[3] Unidentified. BACK

[4] In 1818 Nuttall published the pioneering Genera of North American Plants, and a Catalogue of the Species, to the Year 1817. BACK

[5] Meriweather Lewis (1774–1809) and William Clark (1770–1838), Travels to the Source of the Missouri River, and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean (1814), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 12 (January 1815), 317–368. BACK

[6] A five volume edition of Edward Gibbon (1737–1794; DNB), Miscellaneous Works: With Memoirs of His Life and Writings, published by Murray in 1814; no. 1100 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Walter Hamilton (bap. 1774, d. 1828; DNB), East India Gazetteer (1815); no. 1274 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[8] The first volume of the Miscellaneous Works (1814) was supposed to contain a portrait of Gibbon as a frontispiece. BACK

[9] John Somers, Baron Somers (1651–1716; DNB), A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts, edited by Walter Scott and published in 13 volumes from 1809–1815. Southey’s copy was no. 2613 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[10] Henri Gregoire (1750–1831), Histoire des Sectes Religieuses (1810), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 28 (October 1822), 1–46. BACK

[11] Southey reviewed George Elliott (dates unknown), The Life of the Most Noble Arthur Duke of Wellington, from the Period of his first Achievements in India, down to his Invasion of France, and the Peace of Paris in 1814 (1814), Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 215–275. BACK

[12] Jacques François Miot (1779–1858), Mémoires pour servir à l’Histoire des Expéditions en Egypte et en Syrie (1814). Southey reviewed Miot in Quarterly Review, 13 (April 1815), 1–55. BACK

[13] Unidentified. BACK

[14] This paragraph and the remainder of the letter deals with Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[15] Robert Bowyer (1758–1834; DNB), miniature painter, who published a lavish illustrated edition of part of David Hume’s (1711–1776; DNB) History of England in 5 folios (1793–1806). As this venture was said to have lost £30,000 it was not, perhaps, the best example for Southey to use when presenting his project to Murray. BACK

[16] The following British generals: Sir John Moore (1761–1809; DNB), commander of the retreat to Corunna in 1809; Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (1772–1842; DNB); Thomas Graham, Baron Lydenoch (1748–1843; DNB); William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford (1768–1854; DNB); Robert Craufurd (1764–1812; DNB); and Henry MacKinnon (1773–1812; DNB). BACK

[17] The following figures: Charles IV (1748–1819; King of Spain 1788–1808); Maria Luisa of Parma (1751–1819), wife of Charles IV; Ferdinand VII (1784–1833; King of Spain 1808, 1813–1833); Manuel Francisco Domingo de Godoy y Alvarez de Faria, Prince of the Peace (1767–1851), First Secretary of Spain 1792–1798 and the dominating force in its political life until 1808; Gaspar Melchor de Xove y Llanos (1744–1811), Spanish author and statesman, who was imprisoned by Godoy 1801–1808; General Jose Rebolledo de Palafox (1780–1847); Francisco Espoz y Mina (1781–1836), guerrilla leader; and Juan Martin Diez, ‘el Empecinado’ (‘the undaunted’) (1775–1825), guerrilla leader. BACK

[18] Francisco Silveira, Conde de Amarante (1763–1821), Portuguese military leader. BACK

[19] John VI (1767–1826), Prince Regent of Portugal 1799–1816, King of Portugal 1816–1826. BACK

[20] The following Spanish military leaders: Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3rd Marquis of la Romana (1761–1811); Jose Miguel de la Cueva, 13th Duke of Alburquerque (1774–1811); Joaquin Blake y Joyes (1759–1827); Francisco Javier Castanos (1758–1852). BACK

[21] The following French military leaders: General Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813); Marshal Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult (1769–1851); Marshal Claude Victor-Perrin (1764–1841); Marshal Andre Massena (1758–1817); Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan (1762–1833); Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet (1770–1826); and Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1844; King of Spain 1808–1813). BACK

[22] Southey had visited this spot in 1795, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (Bristol, 1797), pp. 54–55. He had pointed out that the bridge had three arches, not four, in Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1808, 1.1 (1810), 452, thus correcting Adam Neale (1778?-1832; DNB), Letters from Portugal and Spain (1809), p. 305, an account of the retreat to Corunna by one of the participants. BACK

[23] Lewis Goldsmith (1763/4?-1846; DNB), Recueil de Decrets, Ordonnances, Traites de Paix etc de Napoleon Bonaparte depuis 1799, 5 vols (1813–1815), no. 1118 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

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August 2013