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

2623. Robert Southey to John Murray, 26 June 1815 ⁠* 

Keswick. 26 June. 1815

My dear Sir

I have received your draft, & thank you for it. I am glad that the article upon Wellington has not disappointed you, – but I perceive strong objections to putting it forward in a different form. [1]  Where it is, it is pretty much as it should be: – there was an excuse for presenting an abstract of the Dukes life, because a catchpenny volume had taken up the subject at length; & there was a cause for doing it, because it was right to show the country what grounds we had for engaging in the present contest with hope & confidence. But I should be very unwilling to put it forth as a life of Wellington which might be supposed to be intended as a companion for the life of Nelson. [2]  The limits of a review (tho I trespassed somewhat beyond them) xxx xx xx xx xxx allowed me to hurry over those parts of his latter campaigns, which, as far as I am yet provided with materials for them, (tho of the highest importance) have none of those rich circumstances that they can be twice told with effect. I was indeed compelled to hurry over them, – but glad to do so, because of my history. This is one reason. Another xxx is that this late victory [3]  would come in with the awkwardness of a postscript, – to which by the time it was printed there would probably be another postscript required, & still the story would be left incompleat. To me it might be injurious, & I should certainly feel it discreditable, to be accused of catching at temporary subjects, & writing for the demand of the day. And ultimately it might be disadvantageous to us both, – for this campaign may well be expected to furnish matter for a paper in your review, – & to the enlargement of that paper there may possibly be none of these objections, as it might form the groundwork for a History of the Campaign.

I possess the Ethiopia Alta of Tellez, [4]  of which Salt says there are only three copies in England; [5]  & I possess also the original work of Francisco Alvares [6]  which is much more rare. If the Portugueze book of which you speak be the work of Bermudes  [7]  I shall be very glad to see it. – but still more if it were the Ethiopia Oriental of Joam dos Santos. [8]  I am very rich in information upon this country, & expect to produce an interesting paper, containing what has never yet been given a fair account of the history of the Jesuits in Abyssinia. [9] 

You see I rightly supposed that Campbells Travels lay within Mr Barrows xxx line of demarcation. [10] 

When you send to me next, remember that I have not had the number which precedes this.

Gregoires Sects will be my next long article, – a good subject & much in my way. [11]  – We talked once of Huntingdons Works, – fish of that kind make an excellent dish when properly drest & served up with the right sauce. [12] 

believe me my dear Sir

yrs very truly

Robert Southey.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr/ Albemarle Street/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: [partial] E
Watermark: J DICKINSON & Co/ 1811
Endorsement: 1815 26 June/ Southey Robt
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42551
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey did not wish to expand his article on 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, into a book, as Murray had suggested; see Southey to Herbert Hill, 27 June 1815, Letter 2624. BACK

[2] The Life of Nelson (1813); an expansion of Southey’s article in Quarterly Review, 3 (February 1810), 218–262. BACK

[3] The Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815. BACK

[4] Baltazar Tellez (1595–1675) abridged and partially revised the Jesuit Manuel de Almeida’s (1580–1646), Historia de Etiopia a Alta ou Abassia (1660), no. 3304 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[5] Sir Henry Salt (1780–1827; DNB), A Voyage to Abyssinia (London, 1814), p. 481n†. Southey did not review it for the Quarterly. BACK

[6] Francisco Álvares (c. 1465–1536/1541) was a member of the Portuguese mission to Ethiopia in 1520–1526. Part of his account was published as Verdadeira Informação das Terras do Preste João (1540), no. 3305 in the sale catalogue of Southey’s library. BACK

[7] Joao Bermudes (d. 1570), Breve Relacao da Embaixada que o Patriacha D. Joao Bermudez, trouxe do Imperador de Etiopia chamado vulgarmente Preste Joao (1565). BACK

[8] João dos Santos (d. 1622), Ethiopia Oriental (1609) deals with the Portuguese role in Mozambique at the end of the sixteenth century. BACK

[9] Southey did not write this article. BACK

[10] Southey had expressed interest in writing on John Campbell (1766–1840; DNB), Travels in South Africa, Undertaken at the Request of the Missionary Society (1815); see Southey to John Murray, 27 May 1815, Letter 2606. It was reviewed by John Barrow (1764–1848; DNB) in Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 309–340. BACK

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

[12] William Huntington (1745–1813; DNB), Works (1811), reviewed by Southey in Quarterly Review, 24 (January 1821), 462–510. BACK

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August 2013