Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2612. Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 6 June 1815 ⁠* 

My dear Tom

I have discovered by means of my shirtcollar a swelling on my neck, but of what nature Edmondson does not know, whether an enlargement of the muscle, or if the muscle itself be protruded by something under it. There is no pulsation, & no pain or inconvenience of any kind. I am using a lotion in the hope of discussing it, & if this fails a plaister for the same purpose will be applied. Meantime I do not button the collar & Edmondson desires that I will use no muscular exertion which may be avoided, rowing for instance being forbidden. As the discovery is some days old, I have almost ceased to think of it except at rubbing times: but of course I can not go from home till he has seen the effect of his applications. There is no artery in that direction, – nor is any thing of the goitre or wen kind. If it be some hydattids, they will make way to the surface & suppurate; – or as it may perhaps have existed a long while, it may remain in the same state, & be remedied by a new set of shirt-collars.

Since the quarterly work was got rid off I have had a weeks clear run for Brazil, which is a great indulgence. 216 pages are printed & I am very anxious to finish it, which I hope to do in the course of the winter; [1]  & then I shall be at full leisure to carry on the Peninsular War. [2]  Roderick is doing as well as could be expected. There is a third edition in the press, & the second consisted of 1500 copies, – a third more than I ever printed of any poem. [3]  Madoc also is gone again to the printers. [4] 

Thomsons bookx concerning which you enquire is in the greater part a translation of Alcedos Geographical Dictionary of America, [5]  – which is itself in like manner an expanded translation of Coletis’. [6]  I have not seen the book but believe it to be in all the English additions made up of extracts, having seen in a Review that my own Brazil has been laid xxxx under contributions for it. [7]  It cannot in any way interfere with you. [8] 

Murat is unKing’d by this time. [9]  Buonapartes only chance is from the dissentions among the Allies, whom I fear it is not easy to keep together; but the struggle is likely to be ended before he can profit by their folly. La Vendee appears beyond all doubt to be thoroughly engaged in insurrection, & he is sending troops there, every man of whom will be wanted upon the frontiers. [10]  I do not understand Luciens conduct. [11]  But indeed the conduct of a man who has written a poem upon principles which are purely popish, is not worth a thought. This Charlemagne of his has so entirely failed of exciting the smallest interest that both Murray & Gifford wish it not to be reviewed; – a wish to which I very readily assent. [12]  The Jacobines who act with Buonaparte are clearly influenced by no better motive than a hatred of the old family, – the younger part of whom had derived no benefit from adversity. The Duke de Berry [13]  was more especially unpopular: – & it is said that the Duke of Orleans, [14]  after the example of his father, was forming a party for himself in hopes of obtaining the crown, – this is so like insanity that it would appear impossible, if any wickedness & any folly were not possible for an ambitious man. As far as I can judge all things seem tending to draw upon France & the French people & especially upon Paris, the vengeance which they so amply deserve. I trust it will now be placed beyond all controversy that they are a conquered people & that their capital has been taken. For the security of Europe, Alsace Lorraine & Franche Comte ought to be taken from France. [15] 

Does it not appear inconceivable that there should be a peace party in our own cabinet?

I do not suppose that there are {any} files of W India newspapers in London. {(except for the current year or so)} But in London beyond all doubt you must finish your book, where you will find all the books to which you have not yet had access. Something may perhaps be found among the Parliamentary Papers. Have you seen Dallas’s history of the Maroon war in Jamaica? [16]  There is a work often advertised Naval Memoirs (or Naval & Military I forget which) of G Britain by some Beatson or some such name. [17]  Mackinnons Letters? [18]  Maccallums Account of Trinidad? [19]  You will be well placed at Harrys for the Museum, [20]  which will be within 15 minutes walk.

My annual cold is visiting me, & is in the third week of its age. In the forthcoming Quarterly the Expedition to Egypt [21]  & the Life of Wellington  [22]  are mine. I have since received a French account of Massenas Campaign in Portugal which is so gloriously impudent that I shall give it an article of four or five pages, for the pure purpose of savaging a lying Frenchman as he deserves. [23] 

Our love to Sarah. Do not be afraid of the boy’s being tongue-tied. [24]  It rarely if ever happens, & mischief has been done by snipping. Isabel is still plagued with her ear, – both indeed are now exceedingly sore; – there is no danger of her hearing & she is in excellent health, – but I wish she were rid of this annoyance. The rest are well, – saving that your hopeful nephew has fallen in love with Mary Calvert [25]  & boldly avows his passion.

God bless you


Keswick. 6 June 1815.

If you wish to know where my swelling is, it is in front, immediately above the collar bone, & close to the right of the windpipe.


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

[1] The second volume of the History of Brazil appeared in 1817, the third, concluding one, in 1819. BACK

[2] Southey’s History of the Peninsular War (1823–1832). BACK

[3] The second and third editions of Roderick, the Last of the Goths both appeared in 1815. BACK

[4] A fourth edition of Madoc was published in 1815. BACK

[5] George Alexander Thompson (fl. 1797–1849), The Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America and the West Indies (1812–1815); a translation of Antonio de Alcedo (1735–1812), Diccionario Geográfico-Histórico de las Indias Occidentales ó América (1786–1789), with additions from other sources. BACK

[6] Giovanni Domenico Coleti (1727–1798), Dizionario Storico Geografico dell’America Meridionale (1771). Southey’s copy was no. 662 in the sale catalogue of his library. BACK

[7] Thompson’s, The Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America and the West Indies, 5 vols (London, 1812–1815), I, p. 196, acknowledged the work’s debt to Southey’s History of Brazil (1810–1819). BACK

[8] i.e. with Tom Southey’s work on his Chronological History of the West Indies (1827). BACK

[9] Joachim Murat (1767–1815), Marshal of France, King of Naples 1808–1815, and Bonaparte’s brother-in-law. He had declared war on Austria on 15 March 1815, but his troops were forced to conclude a peace agreement on 20 May and Murat fled to Corsica. He was eventually executed by firing squad on 23 October 1815 after an unsuccessful attempt to regain Naples. BACK

[10] La Vendee was a strongly Royalist region of western France. Napoleon sent an army of 10,000 men to suppress a pro-Bourbon revolt there in 1815. BACK

[11] Lucien Bonaparte (1775–1840), despite a long estrangement from his brother, Napoleon, rallied to his cause in 1815 and played a crucial role in the House of Peers. BACK

[12] Lucien Bonaparte’s poem Charlemagne, ou l’Eglise Délivrée (1814) was dedicated to Pius VII (1742–1823; Pope 1800–1823). Southey inserted a swipe at it in his review of accounts of Wellington and Waterloo, Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526: ‘The publication of Charlemagne, so ostentatiously announced, was fatal to his literary character … his poem … proved him to be a sorry Homer’ (489). BACK

[13] Charles Ferdinand d’Artois, Duke of Berry (1778–1820), third in line to the French Throne. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Army at Paris 1814–1815, but fled to Ghent on Napoleon’s return. BACK

[14] Louis Philippe d’Orleans (1773–1850; King of the French 1830–1848). He was head of the Orleans branch of the Royal family, who would succeed if the ruling Bourbons died out, and had openly sided with the liberal opposition in 1814–1815. His father, Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orleans (1747–1793), had initially supported the French Revolution, but was guillotined during the Terror. BACK

[15] Only minor border adjustments were made in the post-war Treaty of Paris (1815) and France retained these territories. BACK

[16] Robert Charles Dallas (1754–1824; DNB), History of the Maroons (1803). BACK

[17] Robert Beatson (1741–1818; DNB), Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from the Year 1727 to the Present Time (1790). BACK

[18] Daniel Mackinnen (1767–1830), A Tour Through the British West Indies in the Years 1802 and 1803 (1804). BACK

[19] Pierre Franc McCallum (dates unknown), A Political Account of the Island of Trinidad (1807). BACK

[20] i.e. the British Museum, London, founded in 1759. BACK

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

[22] 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

[23] Eustache-Auguste Carel (1788–1836), Précis Historique de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1808 à 1814 (1815); one of a series of books on Wellington’s campaigns reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. For examples of his swipes at Carel, see Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 461, 463, 472, 475. BACK

[24] Tom Southey’s first son, Herbert Castle Southey (1815–1865). BACK

[25] Mary Calvert was possibly a daughter of William Calvert. BACK

About this Page

Published @ RC

August 2013