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

2616. Robert Southey to the Editor of The Courier, 16 June 1815 ⁠* 

SIR,

A pamphlet has been transmitted to me from New York, entitled “The United States and England: being a Reply to the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters, contained in The Quarterly Review, for January, 1814.” [1]  In this pamphlet the writer assures the American People, that I am the Editor of The Quarterly Review, and the author of the particular article which has excited his indignation. [2] 

Allow me, Sir, to reply through the medium of the COURIER, – a very few lines will suffice: – there can be no better means of making my reply known in America; and in this country, as well as in that, it may be useful to shew the exceeding impropriety of attacking any man as the author of an anonymous publication, without the fullest proof that he is so. I did not write the Criticism on Inchiquin’s Letters; and everybody in England who knows the Quarterly Review, knows that I am not the Editor of it. [3] 

Had the American writer observed any kind of decency in his attack, I would have addressed a private letter to him, through his publisher, requesting that he would publicly acknowledge his mistake, and thereby atone, as far as he could, for an unprovoked wrong. But the style and temper of his pamphlet preclude all courtesy on my part; nor shall I condescend to notice him farther than to express a hope that this letter may be copied into the American papers. A writer of his stamp would probably neither have sufficient sense of honour to believe my disavowal, nor to make it public.

I am, Sir, your’s with respect,

Robert Southey.

Keswick, June 16, 1815.


Notes

* MS: MS has not survived
Previously published: Courier, 23 June 1815. BACK

[1] The pamphlet’s author was James Kirke Paulding (1778–1860), writer and from 1815–1823 secretary to the United States Board of Navy Commissioners. BACK

[2] The review of Charles Jared Ingersoll (1782–1862), Inchiquen, the Jesuit’s Letters, during a Late Residence in the United States of America; being a Fragment of a Private Correspondence, accidentally discovered in Europe, containing a favourable View of the Manners, Literature, and State of Society, of the United States; and a Refutation of many of the Aspersions cast upon this Country, by former Residents and Tourists. By some Unknown Foreigner (1810), in Quarterly Review, 10 (January 1814), 494–530. The author of the offending article, which was highly critical of the United States, was John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB). BACK

[3] The editor at this time was William Gifford. BACK

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August 2013